We will crush APC anti-budget plot —PDP lawmakers

Senators and House of Representatives members elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party have vowed to crush a plan by the opposition All Progressives Congress to block the passage of the 2014 budget.

The APC, after a meeting of its National Executive Council meeting on Thursday, had directed its members to stop the passage of the budget until the “rule of law” was restored in Rivers State.

The party blamed the Presidency and the PDP for allegedly fuelling the crisis in Rivers and using government machinery like the police to hound the opposition in the state.

But the PDP caucus in the House told SUNDAY PUNCH in Abuja on Friday that it would not lose sleep over the plan of the APC to shut down government.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, told one of our correspondents that passing the budget was a joint responsibility of the Senate and the House that did not require a simple majority to be done.

He said, “Both the Senate and the House will pass the budget without losing sleep if the APC members choose to stay away.

“There is no problem in the Senate and I can assure you there will be no problem in the House as well. The quorum for sitting is one-third of 360 members; so do the arithmetic.

“What that means is that if all the APC members boycott the House, our business will go on smoothly because there will be still more than one-third of members sitting.

“The budget is a national assignment; for us, we are here to serve Nigerians, not a particular political party.”

Similarly, Senator Smart Adeyemi of the PDP said the APC was not being reasonable and that its stance on the budget would not endear it to Nigerians.

He said, “I do not think any Senator who has the mandate of his people will believe in what the APC is calling for. Their senators will find it difficult to take this position because the party is asking them to go against the interest of the people, to put the people in perpetual slavery and suffering.”

In the House, a cross-section of PDP lawmakers who pleaded anonymity expressed same sentiments as those of their counterparts in the Senate. According to them, the House could take major and minor decisions without APC members.

One of the PDP representatives, Mr. Mike Akpan-Umoh, said APC members could “choose to stay away, but the budget will be passed.”

APC lawmakers, however, said their PDP colleagues had lost touch with the “reality of the Nigerian situation.”

A key APC member and Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Mr. Ali Ahmad, stated that the party’s directive was just a way of calling government to order.

He added, “A directive is a directive; the APC is a disciplined party and we will comply.”

Similarly, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, insisted that his APC colleagues in the Senate would abide by the directive of their leaders by ensuring that due attention was drawn to the looming danger in Rivers State.

“You know the process of passing budget is unique, it will undergo a debate on the floor of the Senate before it would be referred to the various committees. It will then be brought back to the floor again for approval.

“We are prepared to employ lawful means to draw the nation’s attention to the crisis in Rivers,” he said

In a related development, Interim Chairman of the Rivers State chapter of the APC, Dr. Davies Ikanya, who hailed the decision of the party’s national leadership, said the directive would restore sanity to the nation’s polity.

Ikanya, who spoke on Friday through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Chukwuemeka Eze, said apart from growing the country’s democracy, the directive would prove to the PDP that it was no longer the majority in the National Assembly.

“From Rivers State, which they have virtually made ungovernable to the National Assembly, where they have also exported their lawlessness, the PDP and the Jonathan Presidency have shown beyond every reasonable doubt that the only language they understand is force,” Ikanya said.

The PDP in the state, however, faulted the threat by the APC to block all proposals by the presidency through its members in the National Assembly for allegedly supporting lawlessness and impunity in Rivers State.

In a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media, to the State Chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, added that the APC’s threat in itself was an act of lawlessness and impunity aimed at grounding the lawmaking machinery of government.

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