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How Oyegun’s Visit To Senate Doused Tension Between Executive, Legislature

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SOLOMON AYADO writes on how the recent visit of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigi-Oyegun, to National Assembly helped in subduing the impasse between the lawmakers and the executive

While the feud between the Executive and the Legislature was still unresolved and there were no better ways about how best to tackle the fracas, and with Nigerians adversely worried and crying out for something urgent to be done, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, last Wednesday, 23 March, 2018, stormed the National Assembly where he met with senators specifically.

Reflectively, the Senate had placed embargo on all confirmation of nominations and appointments from the executive, as a ploy to show the Presidency that the legislature has utmost powers. The Executive at one hand tactically rode on refusal path not to grant assent to bills passed by the Senate, simply to show strength that it has the supreme powers to decline assent.

The impasse between the legislature and executive has always been. It becomes obvious for the duo to show superiority and to imply who has more constitutional powers than another. But the fracas are always resolved, according to sources, whenever money exchanges hands or some high level of inducement is activated to reach a truce.

Though in the present executive-legislature feud, the two arms of government succeeded in undoing one another, the Senate and Presidency could not amicably resolve issues and resorted to throwing punches at each other.

Either way, they all glaringly succeeded in wrecking themselves because they work concomittantly.  For instance,  the lawmakers  have legislative powers to enact bills or laws while the executive equally is vested with powers to give assent to the bills.

One thing that is reliant on each of the very critical government arms is that the legislature must pass motions or bills before the executive can exercise assent. And if the executive exercise veto, the bills passed by the legislature cannot become laws.

Of course, be that as it may, the legislature equally has the constitutional powers to override the executive, in a two/third majority vote. All these are why the executive and legislature flex muscles in a simple bid to show who has more powers than another.

Given the pervasiveness of power tussle in the country, the task of completely getting rid of the legislature-executive impasse cannot be considered an easy feat. This is apparent from the catchphrase that ‘we are in charge’ each time the two arms of  government are required to constitutionally carry varied actions.

But this ugly disposition has fast turned out to be a challenge. And like the adage that when two elephants tango, the grass suffers, has further illustrate why the poor masses are with  poverty beaming in their faces everyday.

Yet, in the very important role of governance, the rules must be very clear. The standards must be straight and the institutions must also be made to stand firm. Else, modern democratic tenets would be greatly hampered and that would turn out to affect rapid practical development which would mean that the living condition of the generality of the people be greatly challenged, as the case in the country today. 

There are several recent issues that have adduced to the feud between the Senate and Presidency that raised the momentum to the roles the two arms of government play, and why it became obvious that the running battle persisted.

First was the outburst by the Presidency that the National Assembly lacked superior powers over the Executive. The NASS, particularly the Senate, quickly felt undermined and did not hide its resolve to frustrate the executive.

It started with the blatant refusal of Senate to approve confirmation of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, who was rejected for about three times.

Then it quickly followed by the insistence of the Red Chamber that Comptroller of Customs, Hameed Ali, must appear in uniform before the Senate and proffer cogent explanations to issues of the agency that were not clear.

Also,  Senate had earlier rejected to confirm the nominees for the Code of Conduct Bureau sent by the executive. It had placed embargo to confirm the nomination of Aishah Ahmad and Edward Lametek Adamu as deputy governors of Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as the appointment of three members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Senate also halted the alleged resumption of the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, {NHRC},  Tony Ojukwu, without confirmation from it and the matter is still being investigated. The list is endless.

Another refusal for legislative action was the rejection of the 2018 budget. Senate had insisted that there was no way it would pass the 2018 budget in December, 2017 as earlier pledged and claimed that the Appropriation Bill as presented to it by the Executive was badly prepared. To show might, all committees assigned to conduct the  budget defence were put off their meetings.

Senate President,  Bukola Saraki insisted that “the lawmakers cannot not turn to magicians to pass the budget without proper defense from MDAs. He stated,  alongside his colleagues that the 2018 budget was a disaster because “projects in the 2017 budgets were not rolled over to 2018.”

On every legislative sittings,  the plans by Senate to mount heavy wage on all actions of the executive dominated the plenary.

Recently,  Senate rescheduled the election sequence released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of presidential, National Assembly and gubernatorial elections.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki announced a six-man  committee of senators to reconcile the Senate’s version of the amended Electoral Act with the version passed by the House of Representatives. The report of the Amendment was subsequently adopted.

By the Senate’s amendment, the National Assembly election is to hold first, followed by gubernatorial and state assembly polls and presidential election to be conducted last.

But alongside the actions of the Senate,  the Presidency, also, quickly swung into executive actions and vetoed almost all bills sent to it for assent by Senate.

For example, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate, communicating his withholding of assent to two Bills –Chartered Institute of Treasury Management and the Federal University of Wukari in Taraba state. He also refused signing into law the Peace Corps of Nigeria bill, and the Electoral Amendment bill, among several others.

The travails of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and the alleged molestation of his political son,  Senator Dino Melaye,  all are perceived to be propelled by the Presidency.

At the moment, it is established that the executive, legislature has not done so well for the unity and progress of our nation. Hence, either Senate or Presidency is not ready to first soft pedal. Their relationship is still frosty and they all appear to be notorious.The masses are at the receiving end.

The big unanswered question is, must it wait until the impasse consume the entire country before a truce could be reached?

Fact is, the ruling APC has majority in the National Assembly. At the same time, the government at the center is equally being controlled by same ruling APC. The Senate-Presidency feud,  however, can simpy be adduced to infighting within ranks of the ruling party.  The APC,  according to analysts, has simply goofed and very unable to resolve its inner wranglings amicably.

Determined to broker peace, the National Chairman of the All Progresives Congress (APC) Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on Wednesday, 23 march, 2018, led members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to the National Assembly. He met with Senate APC caucus.

The meeting, held in the White House wing of the National Assembly, was basically arranged to evolve workable measures to end the impasse between the Senate and the Executive.

Also, the crucial meeting was to proffer ways to reconcile aggrieved APC lawmakers and to quash whatever squabbles within the ranks of the party.

No doubt that in NASS, the APC Senators are obviously divided over salient issues. While Senate President Bukola Saraki is said to be heading a ruling camp considered to be anti-Buhari, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is spearheading another, an opposing camp in Senate which is seen to be pro-Buhari.

Although it was gathered that during the meeting, Oyegun begged the APC Senators to prevail on lawmakers to shelve the Legislature-Executive impasse. He equally urged Senate to stop reordering of the election sequence and to further pass the 2018 budget with dispatch.

Consequently, a caucus comprising members of the Executive, National Assembly members, as well as 24 APC governors was agreed to be constituted immediately.

The caucus would be mandated to bring every member of the party on table in order to resolve issues amicably.  The caucus will also deal with the issues of 2018 budget, election sequence reordering, confirmation of appointments among others.

Oyegun told journalists earlier at the meeting that it became necessary to forge a way forward on the lingering issues affecting the party and to ensure that peace is restored.

Specifically, he hinted that the meeting was imperative to strategise especially now that the general election is approaching.

“This meeting will afford us a good opportunity to discuss general issues of polity, reality and forthcoming election is less than a year. The election is between 10 to 11 months.

“We are here to strategize on the best way as we are approaching a critical election.

“I want to thank you most sincerely for taken out time to welcome us and it is my believe that at the end of our discussion we shall leave here happily,” Oyegun stated.

Less than 24 hours after the meeting, the Senate on Thursday, 24 March, 2018, confirmed the nomination of Aishah Ahmad and Edward Lametek Adamu as deputy governors of Central Bank of Nigeria and approved the appointment of three members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which it had earlier placed embargo upon in October 2017 and February 2018 respectively.

On that day,  something very unusual happened. In a seeming desperate move to confirm the nominees, Senate was forced into a 10-minute adjournment to adopt the proceedings for the legislative day,  and it resumed immediately into what it considered another legislative day, to enable it carry out the confirmation. And the confirmation was sharply approved and unanimously voted for.

Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi explained to journalists that the action was not in any way propelled or induced. He simply said the hasty confirmation was done in accordance to constitional provisions and based on the enshrined Senate rules.

Whichever way the Senate goes from now,  it is obvious that the visit of Oyegun, the APC national chairman, has started yielding some good fortunes. However, no one is sure whether apart from several pleas to the Senators, some kind of monetary inducement was exchanged to warrant insatiable appetite for sudden reverse of actions by Senate. Whether the truce is real or not, it is hoped to be seen as events unfold.





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