IT is no longer a secret that there is an unsavoury muscle-flexing competition going on between the Presidency and the two chambers of the National Assembly. The situation has become so bad that President Muhammadu Buhari recently lamented that the legislative arm of the Federal Government is responsible for much of the slow pace of governance which he has been accused of.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, however, debunked that notion recently when he averred that the Senate has only rejected 13 out of the 227 nominees it has received from the President’s table in its three years in office.
This, however, does not neutralise the fact that the Red Chamber, which is constitutionally mandated to confirm certain categories of presidential appointments, has frozen confirmation of appointees from the Buhari-led Executive as a result of the latter’s insistence on retaining Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, even after the Senate turned down his confirmation twice based on adverse reports from the Department of State Services, DSS.
The problem has even been noticed by international stakeholders such as the International Monetary Fund, IMF, which has called on the Senate to confirm the appointments of members of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s, Board of Directors and Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, members to enable them join in the efforts to strengthen the economy which is just climbing painfully out of recession.
When the face-off over Magu arose early last year, we had enjoined the Presidency to seek the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Section 171 of the 1999 constitution as amended which deals with the class of presidential appointees that need the Senate’s confirmation rather than resorting to self-help and deciding that the EFCC Chairman does not need.
The fallouts of this faceoff have confirmed the old saying that two wrongs do not make a right. When the Presidency and the Legislature decide to engage in power show, it is smooth governance that suffers as we have seen.
The lesson in this matter is that each arm of government must respect the powers of other arms while exercising its own with utmost sense of responsibility. Presidential democracy, while emphasising separation of powers also demands cooperation among the arms for effective operation of governance.
The President and the leadership of the National Assembly should dialogue and break the deadlock to reopen the channel of cooperation between them. Whenever there are doubts over any sections of our laws, the Judiciary is there to clarify them as the constitution demands.
Since the Legislative and Executive arms of the Federal Government are controlled by the same All Progressives Congress, APC, we call on the Party to intervene on this matter in the overall interests of the nation.