Nigerian House of Representatives member Dr. Babatunde Adejare (Agege Constitluency) has been interviewed by the Nation newspaper. He discussed the current conflict between the legislative branch and President Goodluck Jonathan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘President should not joke with impeachment threat’
By Emmanuel Oladesu 10/08/2012 00:05:00
Dr. Babatunde Adejare House of Representatives member Dr. Babatunde Adejare (Agege Constituency) spoke with reporters in Lagos on national issues. Deputy Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU was there.
Could you shed light on your activities in the House of Representatives in the last one year?
The major work I have put myself to doing in that House is how to see that the Public Procurement Law works to perfection. We have a very nice law about procurement, but the execution has not been the way it should be. There is supposed to be a Procurement Commission; there are lots of agencies that are supposed to be set up by the Executive arm that have not been set up; there are a lot of things they are not doing as per what the bill says. So I have put upon myself by a way of motion to see that we have proper maintenance of this Procurement Law. We as a House started the subsidy thing, we told you when the problem came and the president said he was going to remove subsidy on petrol. It was a serious problem on our hand then, we cut off our recess and we even sat on Sunday. And one of things we promised the people was that they should not go on the streets or go strike, we said we will look into the subsidy issue. We even went to extent of looking into whether anybody was even subsidising anything, and that was how it started and here we are today. And as far as subsidy is concerned, you have been able to see that there are so many shady deals; we have been able to discover that we don’t need that huge amount to subsidise our petrol. We also discovered that the way the subsidy was managed and funded was not according to the law of the land. The law does not permit anybody, not even the president to dip hands into our money without any appropriation to back it up.
Why is the House always at loggerheads with the President?
One of the sad days I have had in recent times was May 28. I can’t remember exactly what programme it was, but I think it was a parley between the three arms of government at the federal level. And the President came on the National television to say that the House of Reps is his problem and without being prompted, he went ahead to say that we don’t do things the way they wanted us to do it, and that it is only us that will not do things the way they wanted it. I felt bad because it came from my president, which I believe should not see it in that light. But at the same time, I was so happy that the president knows this, I am glad and I hope that the people themselves heard him that day and they are now seeing it too the way I was seeing it. Sincerely speaking, we are not there to satisfy the president; we are there all of us, including the president, to satisfy the people. If we are doing that, no apology to Mr. President for him feeling the way he is feeling. I am even happy he is feeling that way because that has made them to even sit up better than before. The fear of the House of Representatives is the beginning of wisdom in government practice, it is not about intimidation, it because they all know that we will do it the way it ought to be done. They are a lot of things we need to do, but believe me sincerely, in the nearest few months, you will start seeing all these things coming up. I just want to beg the people on behalf of my colleagues that we need your supports; we are your representatives in that government and we are both your eyes and ears. For the little we have done, I can assure our people that they have not seen anything yet. This is our country and we won’t go and import outsiders to come and run it for us, we have to do it ourselves. I believe that Mr. President should see as instrument to use to achieve his aim of making Nigeria better.
What is your position plans to impeach the President, if the budget is not 100 percent implemented?
Concerning the debate on the 2012 budget, that is how well the budget has been executed by the executive. We all felt that as a House, we owe it a point of duty to our people to see that our budget is not just paper documents; we have to see that the budget is executed to the letter. We know that the budget cannot be implemented to a 100 per cent, but at least, let us start targeting up to 80 to 90 something per cent. In that way, even the infrastructural renewal that we are talking about will be easier to achieve. But you are talking about building up your infrastructure, which is what we should do as country, but your budget as at now which is half of the year is still less than 30 per cent executed, it does not speak well of us. . It is true that as the president he has the right to say this budget should look like this and as a House a too we have the right to say this and this should not be like this because this and this are what we are getting from our constituencies, and that is the law. so if we as a House see that what they are doing is not right we need to talk and say no, we need to say you are not doing the right thing and that what we are doing. As of July, all the revenue generating agencies of the federal government have already generated about N3 trillion, which is N1.7 trillion less the total budget, yet we have plan for deficit, this government has taken the N400 billion to balance the deficit, they have taken it already alone. And yet, you have not released more N400 billion out of the N1.7 trillion Capital budget. We are making more money than we are spending and that is the belief of some of us. But if it is not like that, they should make their account public.
The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that 100 percent implementation is impossible. Would the House still proceed to impeach the President who had explained that he was distracted by Boko Haram sect?
With all due respect to the Finance Minister, I am aware she knows we are not buffoons in that House. When we say 100 per cent, we know it might not actually be 100 per cent, but something close to that. If we are all serious and determined to face these issues, let us start from somewhere and believe me sincerely, we will go ahead and start the impeachment process if that target is not met. At least, we all saw it when the Deputy National Secretary of the PDP came out to say it is true that the President has done some wrongs and that the House is right to say they want to start impeachment process. If his party has alluded to that fact, then what are we talking about? We are only trying to help the President to make sure he doesn’t disappoint our people. I am sure that Mr. President will be as surprised as me to know that the budget performance as at today is still about 12 to 18 per cent. On the issue of Boko Haram being a stumbling block to his administration’s performance, when we get to the floor of the House, we will take all issue as they come.
There have been clamours for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and this seems to have divided the National Assembly. What is your view?
It seems some people are not comfortable with that word ‘sovereign’, let us remove the word sovereign if that is what is causing problem. Let’s just have a National Conference. There is no way we won’t come to this table.