By Abubakar Abdulrahman
His capacity to provide the much needed legislative impetus needed to take Nigeria to the next level was never in doubt. From the onset, most keen observers of Nigeria’s polity had envisaged a highly productive Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan. Six months down the line, such predictions are been realized with landmark legislations and prevailing harmonious working relations between the Executive and Legislative Arms of government.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, the familiar approach to separation of power had been consistent face-off involving key officials in the Executive and Legislative arms of government. It was obvious that such altercation didn’t augur well for democracy, as it impeded delivery of dividends to the people. Memories are still fresh of the consequences of rifts between the Obasanjo presidency and successive leaderships of the National Assembly. A similar scenario played out during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Very little was achieved due to irreconcilable political differences that caused a gulf between former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara on one hand and the presidency on the other. Many bills that are now being reintroduced in the National Assembly were passed during the 8th National Assembly but vetoed by Mr. President. The frosty situation was in spite of their being initially elected on the platform of the ruling APC. There was a total breakdown of reasonable collaboration between Buhari, Saraki and Dogara to the detriment of growth and development of our democracy.
To reverse such unwarranted bickering, the current President of Senate, resolved to strictly adhere to the positive side of the principle of separation of powers. The real import of the principle as understood by Lawan is not to pitch the arms of government one against the other, but to engender division of labour as well as checks in governance. The principle allows for each of the arms to play specific roles without any becoming unwieldy. The Legislature makes the laws, the Executive implements, while the Judiciary interprets. These roles are clearly spelt out in the Constitution, it was never prescribed that the arms of government should be at war.
In this regard, Lawan-as a man in haste for actualization of the Next Level agenda of President Buhari, believes that the primary responsibility of the legislature is to strengthen the hands of the executive with viable laws that will deliver the much needed Change to the people. For Lawan waging a war against the executive had been a failed approach by successive leaderships of the legislature, hence the need for fresh tactics. For him differences between the arms of government, when they occur should and must be settled amicably through the laws and not in the public square.
Consequently, the two arms collaborate on proposed piece of legislations, which are scrutinized and collaboratively considered before they are tabled for progression and public scrutiny. Many of the laws that could not complete legislative due diligence in the last Senate have already been concluded with some signed by Mr. President. This is a commendable development and a clear indication that the ‘Lawan formula’ is working. Lawan’s objective is delivery of dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people and not needless dispute with other arms of government.
The Senate president had before his election pledged to return the country to a more productive budget cycle that run from January to December. Such could only be possible through partnership with the Executive arm towards stabilizing the budgetary process. That promise has been kept, for the first time in many years the annual budget has been passed by the Senate before Christmas. The ball is now in the court of the executive, whose responsibility it is to ensure full implementation of the fiscal law. More instructive is the fact that the 2020 budget process was devoid of the usual drama that greeted past budget consideration. This year, the exercise was smooth with ministers and heads of agencies trooping to the National Assembly to face various standing committees.
Lawan has maintained stability within and outside the National Assembly. He has placed premium on productive checks and balances with the executive arm, which is intended for smooth running of government and not otherwise, as witnessed in the recent past. Lawan has clearly demonstrated how the executive/legislature can work in harmony, while each played its constitutional roles. ‘It is not about face-off, it is about constructive engagements’ he always maintained.
The Senate president has also made constructive overviews on how improve critical sectors of the economy. He recently suggested ways for the Federal Government to improve the power sector, which is key to growing the economy.
To his primary constituency in Yobe North, Lawan has remained a pillar and dependable servant of his people. In recent times, the Senate president has sponsored various activities in health care, youth empowerment, education and infrastructure development. He recently sponsored free vaccination for cattle in his constituency. The 9th Senate under Lawan is clearly about delivery and not political confrontation. Kudos to Ahmad Lawan.
Abdulrahman, a public affairs analyst sent this piece from Kurmin Mashi, Kaduna.