Since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, certain absurdities have been permitted to hold sway. Executive rascality. Over time, these anomalies have now been accepted as the norm. These illegalities have also thrived because those who should speak up when it matters, deliberately look the other way.
With the exception of the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, no other administration has wholeheartedly respected the institution of the National Assembly. Like Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
President Olusegun Obasanjo planted the onslaught against the National Assembly. President Goodluck Jonathan watered it, but Muhammadu Buhari has obviously increased the assault.
It must however be stated that, whatever we may have witnessed in the past, was a scratch in the back, compared to the brazen executive rascality and intolerance being exhibited by the Buhari administration.
Wife of a former governor Lagos State and a serving senator, Oluremi Tinubu captured an area I want to delve into. About a fortnight ago, while contributing to a debate on the floor of the Senate, she said: “”If Senators Dino Melaye and Ovie Omo-Agege can be taken away by the police, it destroys the sanctity of this chamber.”
Unknown to lawmakers, the sanctity of the 8th National Assembly, specifically the Senate, has been completely eroded. Whatever is left of it right now is not worth celebrating. Make no mistakes about this. This has nothing to do with lawmakers, but with he executive arm which is above the laws of this land.
Before I make any intervention, let’s look at the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which President Buhari and his appointees, swore to uphold. They were not compelled to accept the infallibility of the grandnorm. They opted for them out of their own free will. Sadly, they are hell bent on destroying the constitutional foundations of this republic.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), gives express recognition to the operation of the principle of separation of powers among the three arms of government. Section 4 of the constitution vests legislative powers of the Federation and States on the National Assembly and the various states Assembly.
Section 5 of the constitution gives the executive powers of the Federation and States to the President and Governors of each state respectively, while Section 6 vests the judicial powers on the Supreme Court of Nigeria and other superior courts of record.
By Section 80 of the 1999 constitution as amended, the National Assembly is vested with enormous powers and control over public funds. It provides in Sub-section 1 that: “All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.”
It went further in Sub-section 2 to state that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.”
The constitution in its wisdom, vested note powers on the parliament. It gives the parliament, both at the state and federal levels, the powers to summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions.
Today, these sacred norms are under serious threats. Today, the Executive Arm appropriates monies to itself and expend them without recourse to the parliament. Today, ministers, heads of agencies and security chiefs, flagrantly disregard summons extended to them by the National Assembly, in clear contravention of our grandnorm.
Virtually all the ministers in this current government of change, have at one time disregarded summons extended to them by the National Assembly. Since the parliament lacks the powers to bite, they just bark and move on. I have even seen cases where ministers and heads of agencies openly insulted lawmakers and I just marvel.
If the United States Congress summons the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), can they flout it? Can a United States Secretary ignore the summons of the Congress? The obvious answer is no. But here, anything goes.
I have always argued, and I will not stop now., the National Assembly is an institution. It is beyond the current occupants. You don’t have to like their faces, but since you are bound by the laws of the land, you have got to respect them.
The Executive has succeeded in painting the National Assembly as a den of thieves. Nigerians, in their usual manner, have subscribed to this one line of thought. Senators are today embarrassed and thrown into jails without recourse to the rule of law.
Dino Melaye is fighting the toughest battle of his life after series of humiliations. Senator Peter Nwaoboshi spent almost a week in the den of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He thereafter spent a brief moment in prisons.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremandu, have been ducked and shamed. In the coming days and weeks, more senators will face the wrath of anti-corruption agencies.
Following the invasion of the National Assembly, armed and masked operatives have taken over the building. Today, lawmakers converge on the National Assembly, not sure when the next attack will happen.
Nigerians, was this the change Buhari promised you in 2015? Without any bias, can you confidently refer to one thing this government has gotten right? Do you feel safe in Buhari’s Nigeria more than you were four years ago?
We have got to decide on how we will proceed, going forward. Maybe Buhari’s government of saints can function without the National Assembly. Since he is an emperor and can flout our constitution, let him proscribe the National Assembly like a terrorist organisation and revert to his dictatorial style exhibited during his military days.
To the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and other powerful government appointees, who are larger than our constitution, rest assured that someday, the music will stop. Someday, you will exit your powerful office and reality will stare at your face. Someday, you will look back and wish you had done things differently.
Power is transient. I need you to know this fact. If you are in doubt, ask late Sani Abacha who became more powerful than Nigeria. Ask Obasanjo who attempted to become a life president. Ask Buhari who was a brutal military dictator. Ask Ibrahim Babaginda who scuttled the popular June 12 presidential election.
Finally, I am glad Nigerians and the National Assembly didn’t give in to pressure in 2015, when some agents of darkness suggested that Buhari be vested with enormous powers. Imagine if that had happened. Just imagine. Maybe we would have become another Somalia.
I so submit!