The term tripartite system is ascribed to french enlightenment political philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu, in ‘The Spirit of the Laws (1748)’. He described the separation of political power among the legislature, executive and judiciary as a measure designed to allow for proper checks and balances of power to disallow the opportunity for any arm to abuse its use.
This piece is not designed to take us through another lecture on the principles of separation of power but to erase our doubts as to what is expected in true separation of power where the three arms of government oversee each other through checks and balances that will prevent total concentration of power in one arm.
It is pertinent to note here that the democratic system in practice today in Nigeria was cloned from the American system where true separation of power and true federalism has been practiced, is being practiced and is responsible for the relative stability experienced up until now in that country.
No doubt, this system of governance has proved most successful as equal representation is allowed and excessive power concentration in one arm of government is properly checkmated. On the contrary, the Nigerian system seems to be suffering from the overbearing attitude, political interest and over zealousness of a few individuals with selfish ends in a bid to satisfy the undying thirst of their paymasters whose priority is the continuous sabotage of the system.
In line with the above, one wonders why the rift between the legislative arm of government and the executive arm has remained a recurring decimal and both parties seem unable to come to a common ground for the full benefit of Nigerians.
It is more disturbing that for the personal interest of few individuals, trivial issues that have no direct impact on the average Nigerian has become their penchant, giving rise to the question if actually in Nigeria we are ready for true separation of power, a situation where the legislature will have power to check the activities of the executive and vice versa. Or are we gearing up for unitary system where decisions are made from a singular desk and no opposition from other arms of government?
Given the multi-ethnic and secular nature of Nigeria, it is only common sense that can see the propriety as well as the necessity of true separation of power which must be made to prevail as the way forward. With this, the overbearing activities of a particular arm of government could be checkmated, as it allows voices of the oppressed to be heard and their interest reflected in the polity.
A situation where the executive is completely super imposed on the legislative arm of government will mean that the ordinary Nigerian on the street will be in absolute quagmire as legislations that would have been in the interest of the ordinary Nigerian may never see the light of day any more.
Many wonder why the upper legislative arm under the leadership of distinguish Senator Bokola Saraki, which has achieved so much in less than two years from inception, will be surrounded with much opposition from the executive arm. A pep into the upper chamber of the legislative arm’s activities suggest great achievements, far reaching compared to its predecessors within same time frame. It is interesting to note that given this turmoil beclouding it as a result of its resolve to deliver on true separation of power and act as the last hope for the ordinary man, the Senate has passed 33 bills for the good of Nigerians. These bills, when evaluated, has direct impact on the common man.
A few of them include Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act Cap.B2 LFN 2011 (Repeal and Enactment) Bill 2015; Public Procurement Amendment Act; Nigerian Railway Corporation Act, 1955 N129 LFN 2004 (Repeal And Re-Enactment) Bill 2015; Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2015; National Centre For Cancer And Treatment (Est.) Bill SB. 10; Federal University Of Petroleum Resources Effurun And For Other Related Matters Bill, 2016; Forestry Research Institute Act Bill 2015; Soil Science Nigerian Institute Act Bill 2015; High Court Of FCT Amendment Act Bill and Electronic Transactions Bill 2015.
Others are Public Procurement Amendment Act Bill 2015; National Assembly Budget and Research Office (Establishment) Bill, 2016; Jamb Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Food Security Bill, 2016; Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Est. etc.) Act Bill, 2016; Defence Space Agency (Est. etc.) Act Bill 2016; Federal University, Wukari (Establishment, etc.) Act Bill; Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme Act Bill, 2016; National Institute for Cancer Research & Treatment (Establishment, etc.) Act Bill; High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Amendment) Act Bill; Electronic Transactions Act Bill 2016; North East Development Commission Bill (Establishment, etc.) Act Bill 2016.
Others are Code of Conduct Act (Amendment) Bill 2016; Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions Bill 2016; Counterfeit And Fake Drugs And Unwholesome Processed Foods Act 2004 SB55; Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service Bill 2016 SB81; National Poverty Alleviation Commission (Est. etc.) 2016 SB23; Air force Institute of Technology (Est. etc.) 2016 SB180; 2015 FCT Appropriation Act (SB. 225); National Sports Lottery Act, 2005 Amendment Bill (SB.227); Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill, 32. 2016 Appropriation Bill (SB 212) and INEC Amendment Bill (SB 231 & 234).
In line with these bills passed, achievements recorded already in the 8th Senate include 33 Senate Bills Passed, 68 Bills Due for Second Reading, 56 Bills Introduced Since September, 227 Bills at First Reading Stage, 145 Bills Due for Second Reading, 118 Bills at Committee stage, 411 Bills Introduced, 9 Priority Bills at Committee Stage, 54 House Bills Waiting for Concurrence, 35 Concurrence bills passed and 32 Constitution amendment Bills.
With the above mentioned facts, one can say that the Senate, under distinguished Senator Bukola saraki’s leadership is on track and is poised to deliver on the basis which the current Senators were elected by their constituents, which primarily is to ensure that bills that will favour the common man are addressed, the principle of separation of power is adhered to and, above all, serve as a check to the activities of a few who are determined to gag the Senate and turn the legislative arm to a puppet.
It is therefore paramount that the rancour between the executive arm and the upper house be put to rest. In every democracy, issues like this abound but it behoves on both arms of government to fashion out mediation and address issues. Personal interest cannot supersede the collective interest of Nigerians, neither can checks and balances expected from the legislature be swept under the carpet. Checks and balances are the required ingredients needed to make straight the activities of the various arms of government.
It is my believe that the Senate leadership, irrespective of the prevailing challenges, has demonstrated courage to forge ahead with the good work it is saddled with and nothing more than kudos is expected of an egalitarian leadership as this from Nigerians. It is our utmost desire that they remain committed to the good work they have started as it serves not just individual purpose but common benefit of all Nigerians.
Okan wrote from Abuja