Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan proved bookmakers’ prediction spot-on when on Tuesday June 11, 2019, he emerged as the President of the Senate. Even his only contender for the position, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, knew he stood no chance against a man whose candidacy carried the flag of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The Yobe-born senator is one of the very few federal lawmakers who possess intimidating credentials and greater survival instincts since the advent of this current democracy in 1999.
According to his admirers, his election as President of the Senate, no doubt, has opened new possibilities for ensuring harmonious relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government. While there can be no absolute separation of powers between both arms, it must be stressed that more-than-necessary collaboration between the two arms can flourish into tyranny and threat to individual liberty and freedom. It is due to deliberate attempts by governors to turn their state lawmakers into extensions of their governments’ houses that have turned state legislative chambers into rubber stamps. For democracy to thrive, the legislative arms must be free to perform their primary function of representing the electorate. To allow this important arm to be compromised and be rendered as cheerleaders of the executive arm amounts to defeating the essence of democracy.
The main highlights of the 8th National Assembly (NASS) was the intense bickering between the two arms. Apart from allegations of budget padding and under-the-table deals preferred against federal lawmakers, the executive were accused of late submission of budgets and attempting to subvert the power of the legislature by promoting bitter acrimony among them for selfish ends. The situation was made worst when the choice and emergence of NASS leaders ran contrary to the position of the APC. Considering the dynamics that shaped the emergence of the 8th National Assembly leadership, we needed no seer to predict rancorous days ahead. In the search for survival, leaders of the legislature resorted to strategies against the plotting of the executive arm that had become unrelenting in pursuing a revenge agenda.
Last Tuesday’s inauguration and selection of the lawmakers’ leadership ended the cat-and-mouse relationship of the past four years. Already, those conversant with the affairs of the National Assembly are quick to predict that, with the party’s choice of Sen. Lawan as Senate President, the coast is now clear for better days ahead for both arms. With the President and the APC leadership having their way, the hope for boosted and fruitful rapport could be attained in the coming month and years.
However, in advocating for a closer congruence of purpose between the two arms, we must not lose spectacle of the various roles of both arms in sustaining and deepening democracy. The Legislature is created to provide laws for the good governance of the country, while the executive is mandated with the task of executing these laws and programmes. Where leadership of the legislature is subjugated and subsumed to play the second fiddle, then the prospect of promoting tyranny becomes the rule and not the exception.
More than anything, the 9th National Assembly must assist in the liberation of the Nigerian people whose economic conditions are perilous and painfully uncertain. Laws relevant to the emergence of a stronger economy and development of the nation is key. Unlike previous assemblies that dwelled more on securing constituency projects and job slots for their people, the Lawan-led National Assembly should concentrate on the formation of laws that are capable of promoting a new ethical orientation of equal citizenship and creating necessary environment for justice and equity.
It is very obvious that many Nigerians, including yours sincerely, are gradually losing faith in the present political dispensation to turn around the fortunes of Nigerians for good. A stronger legislative arm that is committed to the development of citizens is all that is needed. Improved relationships between the two arms is necessary, but it can’t replace the vision of providing an effective legislature that is awake to its responsibility of checkmating the executive arm.
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