Senate during the weekend absolved itself of responsibility for delay in the passage of budget for the 2018 fiscal year and the plethora of security challenges ravaging the country.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, stated this yesterday while delivering a keynote address during Senate Press Corps Retreat for 2018 held at the Government House in Jos.
Saraki insisted that the budget delay, which has been a recurring decimal since the advent of democracy in 1999, resulted from the poor executive-legislative relationship, saying that more often than not the executive works with the mind-set that it is in control of all machineries of power.
He said rather than engage and collaborate with the legislative committees and, indeed, the legislature for the preparation and collations of necessary parameters for the passage of the budget, the executive would resort to all manner of blackmails and whipping up of public sentiments against the lawmakers.
In response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval $1 billion for the purchase of security equipment to combat insurgency in the country, Saraki said the President for instance failed to consult the lawmakers or carry it along.
This is just as he cited the recent federal government’s proposal to raise a N4.6 trillion bond from the capital market, which he said was first heard by the leadership of the National Assembly through a letter written by the president.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the lawmakers rejected the proposal by the President to raise money from the capital market instantly, just the same way it told the president that by virtue of Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution, the president cannot expend the $1 billion without the approval of the Senate.
“Just few days ago, where the issue of providing funding for the purchase of security equipment, in a good environment, such an issue needed to have been discussed with lawmakers. Already, some senators are angry. They said they were not consulted by the executive before such a decision was taken. These are the issues we are talking about.
“There is no way the security architecture of this country can work without a strong synergy between the executive and the legislature. When you see certain agencies who by their actions and utterances frustrate the relationship between the two arms, you begin to wonder.
Arguing that the friction between the two arms of government goes beyond party affiliations, Saraki said: “Even during the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, when PDP was in charge of the executive and legislature, there were some frictions. It means it is not about the party. It is not about any individual. It is about the system.”
“In a situation where a particular arm of government stands up and calls people from another arm of government thieves, looters and other names, how can we work together? How? It is not possible. It is not realistic. If we collaborate, the country will be better for it,”
“If you want to strengthen democracy, the priority of everybody is to strengthen the legislature. If you do not defend the legislature, there is no way that our democracy will be strengthened because government is not built on individuals. It is built on institutions.
“That is why in developed countries, governments can change, but it does not affect the stability of their democracy because their institutions are strong. We decided to run a presidential of government. By its nature of checks and balances, there is bound to be frictions. The question now, how healthy is that friction?
“If you take the 2018 budget for example, even before they had bothered to find out where the cause of the delay is coming from, people were already attacking and blaming the legislature.
“When I led the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, with the Speaker of the House of Representatives to see Mr. President, he came to the meeting as if the delay was that of the National Assembly. He was humble enough at the end of the discussion to render an apology”.
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