Now That The Eighth National Assembly Has Wound Up

By Henry Onyema 
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Officially, the eighth National Assembly in Nigeria's current democratic dispensation has winded down. The ninth comes to life on June 11. Senators Ahmed Lawan and Ali Ndume will fight for the Senate Presidency and Lawan appears to be the anointed one of the ruling APC and President Buhari who has learnt to have a hands-on attitude to the choice of leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Honestly, I think the Saraki/Ekweremadu dispensation was flawed. Their mistakes and at times, glaring ineptitude and financial contradictions, are well known. On critical national issues like the rampaging Fulani herdsmen killers, they barked but did not bite.

But the leadership of the eighth National Assembly, especially the Senate, was tailor-made for the type of executive leadership currently in Nigeria. Maybe President Buhari is a converted democrat. But his decisions and disposition, or perhaps those of his officials and party hierarchy, demanded robust manifestation of independence from the legislature. If Saraki/ Ekweremadu were yes-men, Nigeria's democracy would have suffered. Our president is first and foremost a very good soldier who is at home with the command style of leadership. Give-and-take concessions, a hallmark of democracy, sits uncomfortably with him. Also, he may have good intentions about how he wants Nigeria to be under his watch. But then the road to hell is filled with good intentions. Hence the necessity of separation of powers in our system.

Friction between the executive and the eighth National Assembly was inevitable, given how Saraki came to power. But it did not justify masked security operatives shutting down the National Assembly.

It is too early to draw conclusions about the incoming National Assembly. But one point is clear. Nigerians want quality legislation. We want the National Assembly to strengthen our democracy and better our lives. While nobody asks for a war between the executive and National Assembly, having an assembly of yes-men will not boost our democracy. Legislative kowtowing to Buhari, the APC or any other party when tey counter democratic principles will not, either. The National Assembly is the soul of our democracy. Dear Lord, let what happened between the Duma (Russian parliament) and former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s not happen here.

Henry C. Onyema is a Lagos-based writer, historian and teacher. Email: [email protected],

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