The outgoing President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, warned that the constant frictions between the Executive and the Legislature would persist, unless the former began to respect the constitutional powers of the parliament.
Outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara has scored the Green Chamber high, saying “it was a huge success.”
Saraki and Dogara spoke at the valedictory session to mark the end of the 8th Senate and House of Representatives respectively.
Saraki asserted that the frictions between the two arms of government would continue if the Executive fails to recognize the powers of the Legislature to process, tinker with and pass annual budgets.
He also pointed out that the frequent confrontations between the Executive and the National Assembly would not end if it refuses to hold consultations with the leadership of the nation’s apex legislative body before submitting the annual budget to the lawmakers for consideration and approval.
Saraki, who was making his last speech as the President of the 8th Senate, further said that the problem between the two arms would continue if the Executive wants the National Assembly to rubber stamp all its proposals without necessary scrutiny.
His words: “It is also important that I make some comments about Legislature-Executive relations. My own take is that if the Executive sees the National Assembly’s work on the budget as interference despite the provision of the constitution, then there will continue to be problems between both arms of government.
“If the presidency refuses to have engagements and consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly before the President submits the budget to the legislature, then there will continue to be frictions.
“If the Executive sees the failure of a few of its appointees to secure confirmation by the Senate as a disagreement, then the relationship will not improve.
“If the Executive encourages its appointees who fail to secure Senate confirmation to remain in office, then there will continue to be disagreement.
“If the Executive believes the Legislature is a rubber stamp without the right to question its actions, then it will be a subversion of the Principles of Separation of Powers and Checks and Powers.
“My advice is that both arms of government have a role to play in our quest for good governance and their leadership should work for co-operation and fruitful engagement.”
Saraki stated that the 8th Senate fought and defended democracy for the sake of the people who entrusted their mandate with the lawmakers, advising those who would succeed him to follow the same footsteps in standing for the people.
He also urged the 9th Senate to improve on the performance of the elapsing Assembly, noting that there were also things that the 8th Senate did not do as expected.
The President of the Senate hinted that the next President of the Senate would either be Ahmad Lawan, who is the choice candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or Ali Ndume, who is on his own fighting to lead the 9th Senate.
He said: “Between the former Majority Leader and the current one, it is clear that one of you will be President of the Senate. Whoever emerges, I wish you the very best of luck.”
Reading his farewell address at the valedictory session held yesterday, Dogara said the House under his leadership passed a total of 382 bills out of 1,643 introduced in the last four years.
Out of the 382 bills, 76 received presidential assent while 45 were vetoed.
Also, the House introduced 1,588 motions, received 1,192 petitions.
Speaking on the achievements made by the 8th House due to the unity and cooperation of members, the Speaker said: “This wonderful cooperation, no doubt, enabled us to have a very stable and peaceful 8th House and to set records that have no parallels in our history of law making as a nation.
“Honourable Colleagues, on your behalf, I make bold to say that the 8th House of Representatives, and the National Assembly as an institution, has been a huge success. This is without apology to whoever may hold a contrary opinion. The stubborn facts are out there for every commentator to see.
“We took off amidst head winds and turbulence, but on stabilising, we have witnessed book throwers and table climbers transform into solid leaders. We have seen mace grabbers wrestled until they surrendered to the dictates of the Rule of Law, true friendship and brotherhood.
“We have witnessed the transformation of those who struggled to move mere motions to eloquent debaters and to crown it all, those who, at inception did not understand themselves, working together, in spite of whatever differences, for the national good.
“This is the spirit that defines us as legislators, the institution of the legislature; and I am happy we embraced it fully.”
According to him, “The 8th House holds the record as the most persecuted and harassed parliament, ever in Nigeria’s history. Some of our members bear the scars of reckless deployment of Institutional prerogatives. We witnessed sieges and invasion by state operatives.
“Some members suffered witch-hunts, house arrests and false accusations. We are also witnesses to barrage of uncharitable criticisms and assessments bandied on daily basis in the media by hired mercenaries who masquerade as analysts.
“Most of these analysts are ignorant of the fact that the parliament was not designed to be an altar of praise for the Executive, but a co-equal branch to serve as a check on Executive power.”
Dogara added that he feels fulfilled as a leader because of the fact that, bolstered by the spirit of patriotism and nationalism, the 8th Assembly of the House was able to sustain the legacies of previous parliaments by ensuring that the House was not compromised or exploited.
Dogara charged Members-elect of the 9th National Assembly to be determined to raise the bar of the records of the 8th National Assembly, especially on the issue of flawed elections.