*** Says Executive, NASS must work together, must be a win- win Situation
*** We must conduct the Affairs of government in a transparent manner, Saraki
***Any Leader who does not understand Rule of Law, Separation of Powers, should have no business leading a Democracy, Dogar
*** Says Military hang over still around, Many Nigerians ignorant of role of NASS
By. Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA- PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, Monday said that the present administration has a firm belief in democracy and working very hard to entrench it, just as he stressed that the government was also putting in place measures that would sustain the democracy.
According to him, the government will remain committed to advancing the Change Agenda, through sustained and effective legislative practices and processes.
Declaring open a four- day National Assembly Open Week Organised by the National Assembly in collaboration with the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, President Buhari who stressed the need for a continued harmonious working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature which must be based on respect for Separation of powers, said that it must be a win- win situation in the overall interest of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, Buhari who noted that the primary objective of Government, as enshrined in our Constitution, is the security and welfare of the people, said, “This programme could not have come at a better time than now as I believe that it will create the enabling environment for the legislature and key stakeholders to chart a course for the development of our country.
“This administration has a firm belief in Democracy and is working towards entrenching good governance in the affairs of the nation. Most developed countries have invested heavily in developing the infrastructure and institutions for good and open governance. It is the determination of this government to be in that league and to lay a foundation for its sustainability.
“I must also mention that government has noted the detailed response to the issues raised at the signing ceremony of the 2018 Appropriation Bill. The point to underscore firmly is that, a stronger and more cordial Executive-Legislative relationship must exist in the interest of the nation and the people that elected us into office. It must be a win-win situation for all Nigerians.
“The importance of oversight activities of the Legislature to ensure efficient, equitable and the judicious use of resources to bring about delivery of service by the Executive cannot be overemphasized. Operationally, this involves visits by members of the relevant Committees to the project sites of the MDAs under their purview and in addition may involve holding public hearings in order to deepen understanding, appreciate the opportunities and challenges and subsequently agree on areas requiring legislative intervention and other forms of support/advocacy by the legislature. It is the expectation of this administration that the processes of over sight would be given adequate time for discussion during the week in other to fine tune it.
“The Nigerian Constitution has clearly enshrined the principles of separation of powers. I wish to state that since my assumption in office in May 2015, I have maintained a position that favor and supports the true independence of the various arms of government, including National Assembly, perhaps, more than any administration in this country. You are all aware of my open commitment to working with any set of leadership of the National Assembly that emerges, and I have remained true to it. This commitment is expected to take us beyond politics when dealing with the wellbeing of our citizens. We must continue to demonstrate our resolve to work harmoniously, while respecting the principles of separation of powers.
“It is my expectation that this open week will facilitate deeper reflection on issues that I have raised and others I have not mentioned in other to achieve a more harmonious working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature in other to deliver peace, security, and sustainable development to all Nigerians. I also hope that adequate time will be devoted to discussions on the issues of security in particular.
“let me refresh the commitment of my administration to bringing corruption to a total stop in Nigeria.. There is indeed nothing to celebrate about corruption and nothing to commend about those who are corrupt. Glorious days of our dear country have been rolled back due to corruption. Let us therefore, collectively stand to ensure that corruption does not deny us the bright future ahead.”
Earlier in his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki said that the affairs of government must be carried out in a very transparent manner, just as he stressed the need for the Executive and legislature to work together which must be a commitment by all, adding, “for collaboration to be effective between the three arms of government, we must strive to adhere to certain fundamental principles. These include accountability which implies adhering to our constitutionally defined powers and responsibilities. Secondly, it is important that we conduct the affairs of government in a transparent manner and ensure that all political representatives are truly accountable to the electorate at all times. Finally, we must recognise the complementarity nature of our responsibilities and thus act cooperatively towards each other and render mutual support.
“No doubt, with all of us working together in these and many other constructive ways, we would be seeing to the deepening of the Open NASS ideal, while at the same time contributing to the continued effective working together of the legislature and the executive arms of government, for the benefit of Nigerians.
“It is popularly said about democracy that it is of the people, by the people and for the people. This can only be so if the people are provided with the information they need to more actively participate in governance. We recognise that it is our job as lawmakers to ensure that Nigerians are carried along in the law-making process. It is our mandate to drive public policy that will improve the well-being of Nigerians. Staying in touch with our constituents will allow us to track the performance of these policies, and this feedback can be used to fine-tune or amend these policies.”
Also in his remarks, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara who noted any leader who does not understand Rule of Law, Separation of Powers, should have no business leading a Democracy, said that Military regime still hang around the country and that Nigerians are ignorant of role of the National Assembly.
Dogara said, “May I also use this forum to emphasise that in modern democracy, all the three Arms of Government must function effectively for good governance to be entrenched. The three Arms are designed to work in an orderly, synchronised and complementary form for development to really thrive. But this can only happen if the foundational principles of democracy are preserved. These principles include strict compliance with the norms of the Rule of Law by all Arms of government, mutual respect among the Arms, and adherence to the principle of Separation of Powers including checks and balances which deliberately makes the running of government complex and difficult in order to check tyranny and secure the liberty of citizens. Any leader who does not understand this should have no business leading a democracy.
“At this juncture, I want to pledge our commitment to this Parliamentary Openness initiative. We will facilitate its practice, continuity and progressive improvement. It is in pursuit of this that the National Assembly passed the Freedom of Information Act and other related legislation designed to ensure better citizen access to governmental information. The National Assembly has also opened its budget to the public within the ambit allowed by the Appropriation laws and process.
“May I also use this opportunity to call on other arms of government, particularly the Executive branch to open its doors and activities to Legislative scrutiny. Contrary to some mischief makers’ views, legislative oversight and scrutiny is very critical to good governance as the legislature remains perhaps the only arm of government imbued with necessary constitutional powers to obtain information necessary to shine light on any form of abuse, inefficiencies or waste in governance. I therefore urge other Arms of Government to continue to cooperate with the Legislature and to leverage on the new regime of openness by always availing us of all the information we require as timely as possible, to enable us provide the effective representation and Legislative actions needed for good governance.”