- Speaks on need for Nigerians to understand legislature
By Musa Adamu, Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Christiana Ekpa
The President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki said although by the nature of Presidential system of government friction between executive and legislature was normal, constant collaboration and engagement between the two arms would greatly reduce the challenge.
Dr Bukola also said until Nigerians understand the place of legislature in Democracy, the arm of government will continue to be seen as the stumbling blocks to governance.
He added that the legislature needed the media to ensure the understanding of Nigerians about the work of legislature.
Saraki spoke at the 2018 Senate Press Corps Retreat held in Jo’s, Plateau state.
Speaking as Guest Speaker, Saraki who, described the theme of the Retreat: “Strengthening Executive-Legislature Relationship” as apt, said friction between the two arms was not restricted to Nigeria, adding that the grey areas could be weeded out if the two arms engage and collaborate on issues.
Citing the perennial conflict surrounding budgeting process in the country, Saraki said the involvement of the respective Committees by the MDAs at the planning level would not only save time but breed inclusiveness and harmony among the two arms.
He however said the collaboration sought for may not be feasible if one arm of government continued intimidating and calling the other looters and thieves.
He said: “If you take 2018 budget for example, even before the people find out what is the reason behind the delay, they were already accusing the legislature; but when we met with the President who was humble enough to listen to us he found out where the issue lies.
“Unless there is cooperation and collaboration between the two arms, there would always be friction over budget process. When the MDAs continue to put documents together without engaging the committees, the documents would always appear new to the legislature; and they must take their time to look at them.
“We must continue to engage and collaborate in order to overcome these challenges. Collaboration is however, difficult when at whatever opportunity you attack me. We need each other because the constitution says none can do it alone.”
Further underscoring lack cooperation from the executive, Saraki pointed at the recent approval by Federal Executive Council of $1billion for security, saying the legislature only got to know about via a letter.
“In good environment, once issue of funding for security comes up everyone should be on the same page; but some are disagreeing with this funding because they were not carried along.”
He said it was not true that the parliament had not been confirming nominees of the executive, explaining that record available to him shows that only 5% of the nominees so far, a feat he described as excellent mark.
He called on the Media not to abandon the legislature, saying the Media was needed to push for the strengthening of the legislative institution.
“We must strengthen the legislature if we truly want to have a strong democracy. As someone who have been a Governor for eight years and now a legislator, I know that the institution of legislature should be strengthened.
“Since Government is not built on individual but institution you must fight to keep it strong. You must rescue the legislative institution whenever there is an attack on it.”
Speaking on behalf of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, the Deputy Governor, Prof Sunny Tyodden, commended the leadership of Press Corps for choosing Jos as venue of the retreat, adding that the gesture meant the state government’s efforts at bringing back peace was yielding results.