The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday stepped into the stand-off between President Goodluck Jonathan and the House of Representatives over the alleged poor implementation of this year’s budget.
The party, like the President, sued for truce.
The House, at its last meeting on Thursday, gave the executive up till September to expedite action on the execution of the budget failing which it threatened to commence impeachment process against the President.
Moments after the session, President Jonathan personally called Speaker Aminu Tambuwal for a peace meeting at the Presidential Villa on Friday night.
This was followed yesterday by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who had a lengthy discussion with the Speaker on the matter.
It was gathered that the Speaker said his hands are tied by the Thursday resolution of the House.
An authoritative source in PDP said Alhaji Tukur had a down-to-heart discussion with Tambuwal on the telephone on why the House should rescind its ultimatum to the executive to execute the budget 100 per cent by September.
The source said the party decided to intervene because the ultimatum suggested a breakdown in communication between the House and the presidency.
It was also gathered that the party is of the view that 100 per cent compliance with budget execution is unrealistic within two months.
The source said: “The National Chairman pleaded with the Speaker to prevail on his principal officers to rescind the ultimatum and allow room for dialogue with the President to resolve all outstanding issues.
“The PDP chairman expressed concern that the polity is being heated up by the budget row and a wrong signal is being sent to foreign investors.
“Tukur assured him that the party will intervene in such a manner that the Executive and the House will return to the old order of a smooth working relationship.”
On the response of the Speaker, the PDP source added: “Tambuwal explained that his hands are tied because a resolution has been passed by the House and it will require another resolution to rescind the ultimatum.
“I think in future, we should avoid a situation whereby issues will degenerate to a resolution level on the floor of the House. This is how you can assist me too as a loyal party man.
“We will look into issues you have raised but I cannot say whether the House will be disposed to reversing itself or not. I am in a difficult situation too because members may stick to their resolution.
“He said the House was not out to either embarrass or make governance difficult for the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.”
The PDP source quoted the Speaker as saying: “The President put in place a transformation agenda and whatever we are doing is to help the transformation agenda. It is in line with the agenda that the 2012 budget must be implemented to the letter.”
The Speaker took time to explain how the House worked with the Senate to ensure speedy passage of the budget ‘as presented’ by the President.
He however gave an insight into why Reps are angry with the Executive, citing alleged disregard for resolutions of the House.
The source said the Speaker noted that the Executive had not been working on the same page with the House on many issues.
The source added: “Tambuwal pledged to convey the position of the party to the House leadership and work for harmonious working terms with the President.”
On the specific action likely to be taken by the House, the source said: “The response was neither here nor there because of the anger of members. But the party will not relent in its intervention.
“I think the PDP leadership may still reach out to some principal officers to concretize its mediatory role.”
A principal officer of the House, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have heard that the PDP leadership tried to intervene in the budget row but the reality is that the Speaker will need to restore the confidence of members before this face-off can be resolved.
“Members are not happy that the Executive is contemptuous of the House. The recall of the DG of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh, on the eve of the presentation of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Capital Market was an insult.
“To resolve this matter, the House wants commitment from the President that the Executive will always respect its resolutions; there will be improvement in the implementation of the budget; and the Executive will respect the independence of the Legislature instead of undermining it.”
After harmonization, the Senate and the House of Representatives had on March 15 passed a budget of N4.88 trillion with a benchmark of $72 per barrel.
The vote was increased from N4.65 trillion proposed by the Federal Government.
The President however assented to a N4.7trillion budget on April 13.
But the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed displeasure that only 30 per cent of the budget had been implemented.
The chamber also gave the President till September to ensure effective implementation of the budget or face impeachment.