Between Presidency and National Assembly

Between Presidency and National Assembly

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 8:50 am

Bola Bolawole

By Bolanle Bolawole

In the on-going face-off between the Presidency and National Assembly, I have one thousand and one reasons to weigh-in on the side of the latter. One: I consider the National Assembly the lesser of two evils. There are no shenanigans you accuse the National Assembly of that the Presidency is not also guilty of many times over. In fact, the reason why Nigerians suffer today is not as much as the banality of the legislators as the cluelessness and crass incompetence of the Presidency. Two: The National Assembly is a necessary evil. What makes the difference between dictatorship and democracy is the absence of a Legislature. When soldiers’ strike to take over power, what they abolish is the Legislature while the Executive and Judiciary still continue to function. So, take the National Assembly away and we are left with dictatorship. Three: The leadership of the current National Assembly was brought about by President Muhammadu Buhari himself. He subverted the national leadership of his own party when he refused to support them to produce a National Assembly leadership that would have been remarkably different from what we have on our hands. We can still remember his statement that he would work with any leader produced by the legislators. So, why is he complaining now? Or, better still, why are some people belly-aching on his behalf? As they say, it is too late to cry when the head is off!

APC leaders had lined up a National Assembly leadership that they believed would cooperate with the Presidency to run the country seamlessly. Some people, however, convinced – or is it confused? – Buhari to believe that it was an Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu plot to hijack the government. Buhari was advised to work against the National Assembly leadership lined up by his party. When he was to have gone to the National Assembly to inaugurate it, he did not but ceded his powers to the Clerk of the National Assembly. How Bukola Saraki exploited and manipulated the situation to emerge as Senate president is known to all of us. Saraki’s upturning of the apple cart in the Senate also necessitated a similar “coup” in the House of Representatives. Buhari sowed the wind; he is now reaping the whirlwind. He cut the ground from under the feet of Tinubu after the latter had made all the difference for him in the 2015 presidential election. By so doing, he cut his nose to spite his face.

Fourth: They say the National Assembly is corrupt; yes, it is but so also is the Presidency! The only difference is that the Presidency is the one determining who to try for corruption and who to shield from prosecution. There are mind-boggling cases of corruption in the Presidency which the government has refused to investigate and prosecute: Corrupt ex-governors who are now ministers; corrupt service chief; corrupt top presidency officials; corrupt anti-corruption agency Czar; padded State House budget, to mention but a few. Rather than investigate and prosecute the Presidency fat cats, the President went as far as constituting himself into a law court and clearing them of all allegations of corruption. This government has not been transparent and accountable in its so-called anti-corruption war. So, if the Presidency which, ostensibly, is fighting corruption, shields its own people who are corrupt, why should the National Assembly not protect its own? As the Yoruba will say, “ori o j’ori”, meaning “equal treatment for all”; yes, even for thieves!

Fifth: They say the National Assembly is engaged in frivolities rather than focusing on the business of making laws; yes, this is largely so but so also is the Presidency wobbling and fumbling all the way and all over the place! Tell me, how much of effective governance has Buhari done in two years? He spent six months to assemble a Cabinet which, in the end, was mediocre. Since then, the economy has gone from bad to worse. Many of his election promises he has either denied or repudiated. They have been sloppy and shoddy with the few they have reluctantly tried to execute, such as the school feeding programme and the social net. The Boko Haram war efforts where they thump their chest remain, at best, a conjecture. Shekau, a military top brass told us, is alive and well. The insurgents continue to throw bombs at will all over the place. Worse, is that whatever gains made on the Boko Haram front have been more than discounted for by the murderous campaign of Fulani herdsmen, which the Buhari presidency has treated with kid gloves. In less than two years of Buhari, the herdsmen have killed as many Nigerians and ruined as many communities as Boko Haram. If the insurgents were a threat to a section of the country, the Fulani herdsmen are a threat to the entire country. If Boko Haram aimed to excise a portion of the North-east for its planned caliphate, the Fulani herdsmen desire the whole of the country for themselves and their cows. As a result, we know no peace anywhere. What Buhari gave with the right hand; he immediately snatched back with the left.

I can go on and on! They flay Dino Melaye; yes, I know Dino but his theatrics are not as destructive and saddening as the lack of coherence, organisation, and discipline in the Buhari administration. As it is said, a house divided shall not stand. This government is divided. The Buhari presidency is rag-tag. No other issue demonstrates this better than the confirmation saga of the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu. The report that nailed Magu was prepared by the DSS. After the President constituted himself into a court, cleared Magu and re-presented his name to the Senate for confirmation; the same DSS still stood its ground by forwarding a damning indictment of Magu to the Senate. An agency within the Presidency countermanded the President! This is more disgusting and shocking than Dino’s melodramatic, infantile radicalism. Buhari’s tail, I dare to say, wags his dog! There is no rhyme or rhythm to this administration; there is no focus; and internal mechanism is lacking. How about the hare-brained and pig-headed obstinacy and garrulous grandstanding of appointees of the Presidency in their relationship with the National Assembly? Ordinary appointees insult the elected representatives of the sovereign people of Nigeria and there is none to call them to order. Yet, they will want other people to respect their own principals (i.e. the President and the Vice-President). They are too daft to understand that respect begets respect. Even if anyone has issues with National Assembly members; the way to proceed is not to rubbish the institution. Just as we must hallow the office and person of the President and Vice-President as the Number One and Number Two citizens of this country, even if we disagree with the way they are running the country, so also must we respect the person and office of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives even if we take exemptions to their conduct. We can discipline them – but by legal and constitutional means – the same way we can also discipline the President and Vice-President. Presidential aides and other sundry fellows, busy-bodies and meddlesome interlopers running their mouth ought not to debase and demean the National Assembly – that is the very institution that defines democracy.

Of all the forms of government, democracy, defined as “government of the people by the people and for the people”, is seen as the “best” in that it offers the people choices as well as guarantees and defends their liberties. This it does by confining the powers and functions of government into three compartments, namely, the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary in what is known as the three arms of government. Checks and balances are erected amongst the three in what is called the separation of powers to prevent one arm from emasculating the other and becoming dictatorial and tyrannical because, as Lord Acton posits, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Each arm of government in theory and practice reinforces as well as checks the other. None is to be seen or treated as an irritant or dispensable/disposable entity. The beauty of democracy is when each exercises its powers, knows its limit, keeps the others in check as it maintains its focus on its raison d’être i.e. to serve the needs of the citizenry. Where disputes arise, the established recourse is to the Judiciary. Trampling the Constitution, flexing muscles or engaging in self-help, as some Presidential aides are wont to do lately, can only invite anarchy if the other party responds in kind. The Legislature must be allowed to do its job – whether palatable or not. The Senate’s power of confirmation cannot be cosmetic or advisory; it is binding. It is to be regretted that, in their desperately partisan mindset, so-called Senior Advocates of Nigeria and advertised professors of Law cannot understand again that there are two categories of appointees – those whose appointment needs confirmation by the Legislature and those whose appointment does not need confirmation. If an appointment does not need confirmation, no one bothers to refer it to the Legislature but where an appointment requires confirmation and is referred to the Legislature; you land the job if you are confirmed by the Legislature but lose it if you are not. Failing confirmation and still keeping the job is akin to having your cake and eating it.

Face-to-face with Pastor Adeboye at Tafawa Balewa Square

Be my very important guest on Sunday, 9th April at the special Sunday service of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Region 11 (aka Victoria Island/Ikoyi Family) taking place at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos. Ministering is our General Overseer Worldwide, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, aka “Daddy G.O.” The service, tagged “Enlarge”, starts at 7.00am prompt. According to the Regional Pastor, Charles Kpandei, all RCCG parishes in Region 11 shall empty into TBS next Sunday. Various committees, of which yours truly is a part, are working round-the-clock to deliver a perfect outing. I look forward to seeing you there!

– 0705 263 1058

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