The 9th Assembly: A Pawn On The Board
Different reactions have trailed the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari not to honour the invitation extended to him by the House of Representatives to give report on the security situation of the country most especially as it relates to the unprovoked killing of over 40 farmers in Borno by members of Boko Haram amongst others which is seriously threatening our existence as a people.
The decision of the President was premised on the statement which was uttered by the "bow and go", intellectually undeveloped Abubakar Malami who happens to be the Attorney-General of the Federation that the House of Representatives has no power whatsoever to invite the President to give report of the security situation of the country. For the sake of emphasis, the topic Maj. Gen. Buhari has been invited to come speak on is an issue that affects the general public. Also, the Constitution has given power to the House of Representatives to summon any Nigerian (the President inclusive).
With the statement of Abubakar Malami who is expected, with the position he holds to have more than sufficient knowledge of the law and the failure of the President to appear before the House of Representatives, one is forced to ask who the President really gives report to and who has the power to invite him to give report on how the country is governed if not the institution established by the Law to do so. For the record, members of the House of Representatives are elected representatives of the people, they did not just find themselves on the seat they presently occupy, and, the President on the other hand is also accountable to the people. In fact, his life reflects the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people, hence, it is just normal and not out of place based on accountability for him to honour the invitation of the people via the House of Representatives.
It cannot be gainsaid that democracy thrives on strong institutions as clearly spelt out in the Constitution which is a collection of norms or standards through which a State is governed with statements intended to define the relationship between the rulers and the ruled and the basic institutional framework of government.
However, we cannot analyse the failure of the President to appear before the House of Representatives which is a clear indication that he (President) hold the Nigerian people to contempt without making reference to the fact that the principal elements in the law-making body most especially the Senate President have pocketed the institution meant to check the excesses of the President while enacting laws for the well-being of the Nigerian people.
It must be made known that the failure of the Senate President to realise that the Legislature is an independent body set-up by the Constitution not just to make laws to better the people but also to check the excesses of the executive made him to declare in August last year that "there are pockets of opposition from other sides, I assure you all that we won’t fail the President.” One is then forced to ask who the President is and the essence of the existence of the National Assembly as an institution of government.
Unfortunately, based on political correctness, the Senate President sold the entire Nigerian people to the President which birth the manner in which the President sees the National Assembly; an appendage, a toothless barking dog.
Though, it is not the case that some of us want unnecessary confrontation between the executive arm and the legislative arm, but, such statement as uttered by the Senate President during a public symposium is most ridiculous and a signal that the Nigerian people should not expect the legislative arm to stand their ground on issues. A perfect illustration was when the Finance Bill sent by the executive seeking to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.5% passed second reading without the Senators having details of the bill, yet, the Senate President insisted that debate on the bill should not hold despite the fact that there were agitations against it by some lawmakers.
Despite this, the Senate President asserted that any request that the President sends to the National Assembly will make Nigeria a better place. And, as a people, we have really witnessed how the requests of the infallible, All-mighty President have been in the best interests of the Nigerian people. We have also seen how the National Assembly even with their #128bn budget which is three times the total capital allocation (#34.7bn) to all tertiary institutions in the country in the proposed 2021 budget have been enacting laws for the well-being of the Nigerian people as expected of them.
Without mincing words, one of the many implications of several pro-Buhari's statement of the Senate President who believe that the National Assembly exists to do the biddings of the President was the failure of the President to appear before the House of Representatives. Beyond political divides, members of the National Assembly must wake-up and realise that the people elected them to serve them (the people) and not the President. Separation of powers and checks and balances which are core characteristics of democracy must not be allowed to wither based on party loyalty. An umpire sets aside affiliations to serve in the interest of the general populace rather than being a tool to promote poor governance.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes via [email protected]