By Bisi Lawrence
Our democratic form of government which many people still refer to as “nascent”, is rested on the tripod of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. The sweet part of it is that the three elements are established to be equal and separate but fully operational in a synergy that makes them more complementary than cooperative in achieving the desired end of social progress for the people.
However, because they are to function through the instrumentality of their managers who are human beings with their natural baggage of individual deficiencies and insufficiencies, the components of good government are not unknown to be made to rub against each other to the disruption of the entire administration. It sometimes leaves the populace bewildered and the course of good governance fractured.
A few days ago, at the beginning of his well-deserved rest in England, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented that his paramount challenge is with the judiciary.
He quoted his experience in the past futile efforts to become the occupier of Aso Rock as what constitutes his lack of confidence in the Judiciary. The fact that such an unbecoming statement was made in a foreign country makes one wonder about how sensitive our President really is concerning our foreign image, in spite of his globe-trotting which we are informed is necessary to repair our reputation abroad. In any case, the statement which, by itself, airily cast heavy aspersions on our institutions of justice must be considered ill-considered coming, as it did, from the head of the executive branch of government.
The quality of fairness is vastly reduced by the fact that the membership of the Supreme Court has undergone a substantial change as it does from time to time, since the President went to litigation before it, and it would not be suggesting less than that whatever gives President Buhari a “headache” in his Judiciary is indeed endemic in the system.
This could not have gone down well with the Judiciary and, indeed, there have been noticeable indications that it did not. In the meantime, the Judiciary, led as it were by the Supreme Court nationally, has not positioned itself prominently in the good books of the National Assembly—specifically, the Senate. Dr Bukola Saraki, who now presides in the upper chamber, had already distinguished himself as a two-term governor of Kwara State before he came into the Senate for the first term.
In seeking his second term, which he now enjoys, he had been part of the tsunami which swept several members of the Peoples Democratic Party, which was in power, into the All Progressives Congress, which thereby came into government. However, the APC which by the same token ought to have chosen the President of the Senate, was sadly let down by Saraki who scrounged a majority which won him the seat of the Senate President.
In what can only be described as a fitting reprisal, Dr. Saraki has been facing charges of wrong-doings before the Code of Conduct Bureau, in connection with the declaration of his assets as required by law. Hardly anyone could doubt that the APC had no hand in the investigation which brought the accusation to life, after the expiration of an appreciable length of time. It is also widely believed that another charge of forgery brought against him, in connection with the appropriate formalities for the opening of the Senate, would have the approval, if not the sponsorship, of the APC.
The smooth comradeship which has been the heritage of the Senate has thus been fractured to the extent that members who are supposed to be in the same party are now openly at draggers drawn with one another. The distinguished Senators are fractionalized by the stance of one group in support of the Senate President, and that of the other in support of the APC’s agenda…which is projected at his immediate replacement by the party’s nominee.
Saraki has fruitlessly sought to create stumbling blocks in the process of his law-suits in a manner that could not have endeared him to the courts whose legal position to try the case he had firmly stood against. But the courts are not constituted to nurse sentiments or entertain prejudice;it is, all the same, appreciated that the members of the bench are all human beings; that may have not have instructed some supporters of Saraki, distinguished senators all, who crowd into the courtroom behind him any time he had to make an appearance there, about the value of ordinary self-respect.
That does not add a jot to the evidence upon which the court is mandated to base its decisions. It is also believed that efforts have been made to reach out to President Muhammadu Buhari to use the influence of his high position in ensuring a soft landing for the Senate boss. But that would normally provoke spontaneous laughter because no one in his right mind would present such a proposition to the Buhari we all know. And, if we may add, especially not now that he is still looking for a cure for the headache he recently complained of. But there has now appeared another headache.
The Federal Government has given out an appropriation bill for this year’s budget which has left everybody panting. At the best of times, some sympathy might have been offered, extracted from the explanation (excuse?) that mistakes could creep into the exercise of squeezing what would normally have been spread over 40 ministries into less than 30. Well, you may have your own way of couching it. The opposition in the Senate—PDP,APC, et al — have only one way of grasping it, and that is by the neck. The government has to pay for it, or else…. Or else what? Or else heads must roll.
But heads have been rolling already. The “Budget Master” has been sent packing; he, at least for a definite misdeed for which he must bear responsibility, but 26 other heads of parastatals just because they were there at the time the Goodluck Jonathan administration was. But would that pay it all for the “mystic” budget which started by disappearing and re-appearing, and then surfacing “padded”, and eventually proving to be incorrect? It is at this point that the Presidency may be persuaded to put in a good word for a head of the Senate determined to keep his seat.
It would be an appropriate juncture too, for the “temple of justice” to temper severity with leniency, and thus give room for our lawmakers to concretize the proposals for our overall dispensation for this year into law. We have to move on, but how could we if the Senate would delay the Budget in its bid to obtain its head a good day in court, through the good offices of a presidency that is a stickler for propriety, and the longsuffering position of a political party that has taken quite a bit on the chin? Well, we shall get out of it, somehow.
Remember our observation about the limitations of the efficiency of the tripod of our governmental arrangement: “ However, because they are to function through the instrumentality of their managers who are human beings with their natural baggage of individual deficiencies and insufficiencies, the components of good government are not unknown to be made to rub against each other to the disruption of the entire administration. It sometimes leaves the populace bewildered and the course of good governance fractured.
But we’ll get there somehow. Did I hear someone say, “nascent”?
It is nice to be able to say, “Welcome aboard!” to Abike Dabiri-Erewa. She will make a difference;mark my words.