The showdown continues: Senate threatens President Jonathan with impeachment

by Stanley Azuakola

The relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly can only be described as frosty at best.

Before the National Assembly went on recess, the House  of Representatives had threatened the president with impeachment, following what they felt was his failure to implement the budget as approved.

Since they returned from recess this week, it has been tension and tough words from both houses, with the president backpedalling on the plans of the CBN to introduce N5,000 notes as a result of pressure from the legislature.

Yesterday, in the Senate, the hard-hitting at President Jonathan continued, with the senators warning that no longer would they tolerate President Goodluck Jonathan snubbing the Senate’s resolutions. In the midst of their displeasure, they warned that they could make impeachment moves against him if he continues along that path.

According to a Premium Times report:

A Senator from Abia state, Uche Chukwumerije, said he was prepared to launch impeachment proceedings against the president if he continued to brush aside the National Assembly resolutions, a remark that drew no rebuke from the Senate leadership.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided on Thursday, urged Mr. Jonathan to muster the political will to implement several of the Senate’s abandoned resolutions.

“We believe it is an opportunity for Mr. President to go and look for the resolutions of the senate,” Mr. Ekweremadu said. “If a very fat buttock is sitting on it, I think the president should use his executive powers and push them out and get the report and begin to implement them.”

The remark came amid an impeachment threat standing against the president from the House of Representatives over the implementation of the 2012 budget.

The House says its decision to initiate impeachment proceedings remains. They say the decision to impeach the president will be clear after its appraisal of the current level of budget implementation next week.

Senators debating an amendment bill on the establishment of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, on Thursday, recalled a resolution seeking the sack of the Director General of the bureau, Bola Onagoruwa, which has not been effected by the president.

Mrs. Onagoruwa has remained in office despite an indictment nearly a year ago by a Senate committee investigating abuses in the privatization of the Federal Government assets.

Senators tied the disregard to the latest position of the Information minister, Labaran Maku, on the outcome of Tuesday’s National Assembly resolution on the contentious 5000 naira introduction.

The minister was quoted as saying the decision was not binding on the president, a well known retort often provided by officials in dismissing unfavorable resolutions of the legislature.

The Lawmakers have rejected the argument by government officials that a resolution of the National Assembly is merely advisory.

Mr. Maku’s remark turned out a blot that portrayed the government’s information management process, and how inadequately officials are informed of key government decisions.

While Mr. Maku gave his remark, the president had met with the leadership of the National Assembly where he reportedly assured that his decision on the currency restructuring can be reversed.

“Obviously, the minister said what he was asked to say because the very night he made those comments, the president met with the leadership of the national Assembly where certain agreements were reached,” said the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed. “Maybe the rain had stopped and he thought it was still raining.”

Mr. Ekweremadu, said the senate did not need Mr. Maku to remind it of the executive’s penchant for dismissing its resolutions.

“Anybody who is ignoring the resolutions of this senate is doing so at the expense of good governance and we cannot encourage such things,” Mr. Ekweremadu said.

Mr. Chukwumerije said further breaches will put the president up for an impeachment calls.

“We recommended sanctions against key officials of the BPE but the president hasn’t done anything about it,” Mr. Chukwumerije said. “It will get to a point of threatening him with impeachment. I will move the motion.”

The comments did not appear outrageous to a chamber that has consistently accused the president of shelving its resolutions.

In passing similar concerns, the House of Reps on Wednesday announced it was withdrawing its recognition of Arunma Oteh as the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission after criticizing the president for failing to sack Ms. Oteh following her indictment by its (House) investigations.

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