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2018 Budget Controversy And Party Supremacy



Former Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, is a smart politician. He is on top of his campaign to become the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), using ‘Party Supremacy’ as a point of bargain.

The former labour leader, no doubt, understands the dynamics of political power in a democracy and knows that lack of party supremacy is a major setback for the APC-led administration.

He, therefore, decided to cash into that situation for his campaigns, when he said, “We will subject everyone to the dictates of our constitution and remain faithful to the manifesto of the party on the basis of which we were elected by the Nigerian people. My hope is that, if by the special grace of God I become the APC National Chairman, we will need to be very clear about all these and other issues and that anyone elected on our platform, including the president, will be expected to conduct government and governance in a way that promotes the core values of progressive governance.”

I was already putting this write-up together, with emphasis on President Muhammadu Buhari’s lamentation on the 2018 budget which he signed on Wednesday. But when I read Oshiomole’s declaration, it quickly occurred to me that the chairmanship candidate understands the missing link. His capacity and ability to deliver same is of course a different ball game entirely.

Nevertheless, my take on it is that, if there is ever a man who could achieve for the APC, what has not been achieved by a ruling political party in Nigeria since 1999, such individual is rather coming too late.

The jabs which accompanied signing of the 2018 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, appear to be the last straw which broke the camel’s back.

Let me quickly observe that presiding officers of the National Assembly were absent at the ceremonial signing, rather, two of out of the President’s ardent loyalists in the National Assembly, Senator Bala Nallah who is the Deputy Leader of the senate and Hon Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Chief Whip of the House of Representatives.

I’ve been around to so long, to understand that Politicians do not act without a reason. Absence of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, at the presidential villa for the signing of 2018 budget, and without effective representation suggests that the frosty relations between the executive arm of government and the legislature has taken a dangerous dimension for the government.

Things are falling apart for the ruling part, and the party has no centre hold.

I actually do not understand the idea that whoever is elected as President on the platform of a political party, automatically becomes the leader of the party, and the same applies to governors in individual states. This order has dealt a very big blow on our electoral system as former presidents and governors assume a larger than life status.

The office of the President has practically taken over important decisions making function of the party, and the party organs reduced to a mere bureaucratic organ that receives dictates from the ‘party leader’.

Our political party system is so abnormal that a sitting governor will defect from a political party that brought him to government, with the entire party structure in the state, and still maintain power. This has reduced Nigeria’s political party to a mere platform for seeking political party.

As observed above, this is the major reason why the APC government has not achieved so much and the party is in such disarray.

Unfortunately, the regular abnormality has gradually snowballed into an irregular situation. Nigeria is now witnessing the worst of intra political party acrimony since its independence, due to weakness of the APC, yet many assume it is unimportant.

The latent problem was left unattended to, and now the manifest problem is affecting governance.

It is unimaginable that the same political party which produced the President and a clear majority members in the two legislative chambers cannot coordinate affairs of government without rancour.

It also beats my imagination that the President wants to claim glory of every achievement by his administration and blame the woes on the National Assembly.

I think Nigerians, particularly the politicians, should first understand the structure and organs of a democracy. A situation where a democratically elected President considers the parliament as his major opposition signals dictatorial tendencies .

I am glad that this time, the President understands that it is within the constitutional responsibilities of the lawmakers to tinker with his proposed budget, thereby did not question the legality of the lawmakers action. Rather the President alleged that funds budgeted for certain projects were reduced and that some projects were inserted into the budget without due diligence and that these actions were done in bad fate.

While I will not applaud the lawmakers for allegedly inserting projects that should have been executed by states and local governments into the federal government’s budget, I honestly question the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari to operate in a democratic environment.

It is expected that a democratically elected president would be a master lobbyists and a ‘deal cutter’ and should not expect decisions to fall in line with his dictates even when he didn’t leave the comfort of his residence.