Executive –Senate Face-Off: What Value? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Executive –Senate Face-Off: What Value?

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Jul 5, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

By Nnedi Ogaziechi

Without joining issues with legal minds and conscious of the fact that the issues under discussion could be adjudged prejudicial, I have warned myself not to dabble into the legalities and remain on the side of caution in canvassing an opinion as a lay man.

Nigerians have watched with berthed breath the fireworks and mind game going on between the executive (offices of the country’s chief law officer and the AGF) and the presiding officers of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The signs are ominous and the playouts troubling.

However, with no intention of giving any form of legal interpretation to the ongoing Senate forgery trial, as a citizen of this country, one has been following the skirmishes that have been on between the leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and that of the National Assembly since the inauguration of the 8th Assembly on the 9th of June 2015.

This cold (even if really hot) war gave rise to two groups in the National Assembly – the Unity and Like minds groups with allegiance to either the party leadership or the National Assembly Leadership. The Nigerian people seem to have lost out as there is no group really showing any allegiance to the people.

The cat and mouse relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government in Nigeria is quite similar to the axiomatic two elephants fighting. The grass is nowhere in sight to bear the brunt. The Nigerian people are the victims whose backs are against the wall at the moment.

The worry and which any person that wishes the country must take seriously is that in a democracy, the only way meaningful progress can be made in driving policies and programmes that would be beneficial to the people is when the legislature and the executive co-exist harmoniously, be on the same page and look towards the same direction.

Unfortunately, the country has been denied the opportunity of counting on the virility of the legislature and a corresponding service delivery gravitas of the executive to deal with the huge challenges of governance and the signs are there for all to see that in the face of growing discontentment and mutual suspicion by both arms of government, the change Nigerians demand may turn out a mirage.

The political philosophers like Baron de Montesquieu who saw the great value in the existence of three arms of government – the executive, legislature and judiciary knew and understood very well that even when the three arms are expected to check and balance each other, they must co-exist in a manner that each draws from the others to stabilise the state and provide quality governance based on international best practices.

Flexing of muscles which could likely lead to implosion on the system and negatively impact on governance couldn’t have been the basis for prescribing this principle that is intended to checkmate likely abuse of power through an absolute exercise of same.

It is in the light of all the overt and covert skirmishes between political parties/leaderships, the executive and legislative that many are sceptical about the fate of the people who bear the brunt of a somewhat stalled delivery of democracy dividends.

It will amount to playing the Ostrich or taking ignorance to disturbing levels for anyone to ask, “In all of these, what has governance, executive/legislative harmony, stability and service delivery got to do with it”? Mischief aside, anyone pursing this line of argument must be naïve or underrating the constitutional powers of the Legislature in a democracy.

If we are true to running a constitutional democracy, no change agenda can be achieved without the executive enlisting the support of the National Assembly to create the requisite legislative environment through change bills which the executive would leverage on to drive policies and programmes.

This may have informed the statement from Mr. President’s National Assembly Adviser, Senator Eta Enang, who apparently sensing the impending doom (especially against the backdrop of media reports that the Attorney General of the Federation allegedly saying that the Senate lacked the power to summon him) apologised for what as a former Senator he rightly read as a total faux pax which likely effect would be unimaginable.

In all of these, one sympathises with President Buhari given the number of battle grounds that are being opened by the day through avoidable utterances and actions of some individuals in the executive arm who erroneously assume that the President enjoys absolute powers. 

The whole essence of calling for caution, circumspection and sensitivity in dealing with certain state presentations is the understanding that greater wisdom demands that  certain political solutions are more potent and expedient without prejudice to the exercise of the constitutional powers of the chief law officer of the country.

Meanwhile, the observation of Justice Gabriel Kolawole over the criminal prosecution of the presiding officers of the Senate on the alleged Standing Rules forgery by the Attorney General calls for VERY DEEP reflection by all Nigerians.

Comments (1)

  • Jul 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm najabbiri goga

    There is allegation of police report forgery against AGF. So, there are alleged forgers in the executive as well as the legislature. Let have level playing ground in order to justice to both.

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