By Fredrick Nwabufo
Ahmad Lawan has been dutiful in his obligation of inking ‘’rubber stamp’’ on the senate. Though he had said the senate, which he leads, would not dissolve into the executive as an appendage; his actions have betrayed this gasconade.
Soon after he became senate president, Lawan assumed the ‘’volunteer role of unofficial spokesman’’ of President Buhari and saddled himself with ‘’interpreting maladies’’.
Rising to the occasion as an ‘’interpreter of inefficiencies’’ on July 10, the senate president explained away the hold-up in the president’s submission of a ministerial list, saying the list would be released that week. This was in response to a point-of-order raised by Senator Bassey Akpan. ‘’The list’’ did not happen, and he later recanted.
Also, speaking with state house correspondents on July 18, the senate president did not flinch in seizing the moment to reaffirm his loyalty to the president. He rationalised the delay in submitting the ministerial list, saying it would not affect the presentation of the 2020 budget.
He interpreted the inefficiency again, saying: ‘’I think there is nothing to worry us deeply. The budget itself is normally prepared by civil servants.’’
I think Lawan has been effortless in maintaining the ‘’label’’. Though in June, while addressing a group of women parliamentarians, he said he was close to Buhari; he believed in him, but he would not be a rubber stamp senate president.
Hear him: ‘’During my campaign, I was called a potential rubber-stamp senate president to the executive; maybe because I am close to the president, or because I believe in his cause.
‘’There is no time that I will ever be a rubber stamp. Yes, I believe in President Buhari as a person and I believe that our problems as Nigerians are Nigerian problems.’’
But how do you sunder your loyalty to the president from your duty to your boss – the citizens? Can a man serve two masters? How can the legislature perform its function as an institution of check when its leadership is a consort of the executive?
I believe the three arms of government must work together in the interest of Nigerians, but this does not imply succumbing to the influences of one another. That will be a confutation of the principle of separation of powers.
I have watched the ministerial ‘’screening’’ with despondence. The facetious manner in which the exercise is conducted makes me wonder if the business of governance is really a serious one here. Besides, two or three ministerial nominees, who acquitted themselves creditably, most of them just simply walked across a line.
The ministerial tea-party appears choreographed, and I say, why go through all that trouble when it is all fun and games. Some former ministers, who could have been interrogated over their performance in the past, were asked to ‘’bow and go’’.
Really, ‘’the bow and go’’ privilege is reserved for former members of the national assembly, but I do not think it has ever been this abused. Of the 14 nominees that were ‘’interviewed’’ on Thursday alone, 10 were asked to ‘’bow and go’’.
Is governance really a serious business here? We carry on with the way things have been and even worsen the way they had been. Our democracy ought to have evolved and with our institutions becoming more responsible, but this is not case. They stay the same, and even progressing in reverse.
To stop the four-year ritual of clowning, specific portfolios should be assigned to the ministerial nominees; it is on this basis that their competence, ability and suitability can be well interrogated and gauged. Besides, the leadership of the senate must execute maximum sentence on personal loyalties in the discharge of their duties.
‘’Bow and go’’ must go.