President Goodluck Jonathan may not bow to the pressure mounted on him by the House of Representatives to fire the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh.
The lawmakers had on July 19, 2012 asked Jonathan to sack Oteh after adopting the report of the House’s adhoc committee which probed the near-collapse of the capital market.
The report was debated and adopted barely 24 hours after the Federal Government recalled Oteh from the suspension slammed on her on June 12 by the Board of the SEC which indicted her for mishandling the Project 50 of the commission.
The report, which also faulted Oteh’s appointment as DG on grounds of qualification, said she lacked the competence to manage human and material resources.
But the President refused to sack the SEC boss. Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Mr. President, Dr. Reuben Abati, told The PUNCH that the power to hire and fire officials rested solely on the President.
Another twist was, however, introduced into the matter last Thursday when the lawmakers, while insisting on her sacking, threatened to make no appropriation for the SEC in the 2013 budget if Oteh remained the DG.
They had earlier walked out Oteh’s delegation to the House.
But investigation by our correspondent on Tuesday showed that Jonathan, notwithstanding the threat, might not bow to the pressure, which was considered in government circle as blackmail.
“What it means is that the lawmakers are now performing the functions of the Executive contrary to the rule of separation of power. They are now the ones telling the President who to sack and who to appoint. It is not done anywhere,” a top aide of the President, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent.
Another source in the Presidency expressed optimism that the issue would not get to the level where the House would go ahead with its threat not to make appropriation for SEC in next year’s budget,
He said the matter would be resolved politically between the leadership of the National Assembly and the President.
“You will recall that the President met with David Mark (President of the Senate) and Aminu Tambuwwal (Speaker of the House of Representatives) recently in the Villa.
Issues of disagreement between the two arms of government formed part of the discussion. I can assure you that the situation will not get to that ugly level,” the source said.
When contacted, Abati declined comment on the matter.