Editor’s note: Democracy as it is widely known is the government of the people by the people and for the people. In any democratic setting, especially in the presidential system of government, each arm of government must act independently in discharging its constitutional duties without the interference of others. In essence, while the principle of separation of power is religiously observed, the rule of checks and balances must also be adopted to nurture the democracy and to avoid executive, legislative or judicial recklessness.
In this article, a journalist, Olanrewaju Giwa, analyses the political drama that happened between the Senate and members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet in the last few week and explains why the rule of law must be followed.
Let me first congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on his successful return from a 50-day medical vacation in the United Kingdom. During Buhari’s absence, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief on the policy of Professor Yemi Osinbajo in trying to make the Naira stronger against the U.S. dollar.
At least, Nigerians are hoping that this will totally be achieved in a couple of months. Nonetheless, I am beginning to believe this phrase that, “Nigerians are their own worst enemies.” I initially did not want to comment on political happenings in the country further.
However, the true spirit of journalism in me keeps pushing me when things are not going well. If I continue to keep mute, some gullible Nigerians would say, “Don’t mind him, who knows maybe they have bribed him not to talk again?”
While some Nigerians would go the same page with you, others would perceive issues from their parochial angle just because they are part of the “cabals.”
Permit me to hit the nail on the head. Over the years, we have had a rubber stamp National Assembly that is considered to be “deaf and dumb”. Now the lawmakers are waking up from their slumber, some are criticizing them. Please, don’t misconstrue me!
As long as I agree with Nigerian realists that all politicians are corrupt, there is an urgent need for us to start from somewhere if we really want to get to somewhere.
The Comptroller General (CG) of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) had earlier issued an ultimatum to car owners nationwide to pay duties on their vehicles between March 13 and April 12, or risk having their cars impounded.
After hot discussions over the development, the Senate, however, summoned the customs boss to appear to explain why he decided to ask Nigerians to be paying duties on their vehicles. To me, Senate has made a good decision on this, considering the economic recession the country is presently witnessing.
If Mr Ali had come the first time the lawmakers asked him to appear, there would not have been need for the Senate to mandate him to appear in Customs uniform.
This action of Ali clearly tells Nigerians that some powerful men within the presidency are backing the customs DG. The “cabals” must have quickly told Mr Ali to file a suit in court stopping the Senate from further urging him to appear.
Surprisingly, Buhari’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had to write Senate to stop action against Ali. What does this portray to Nigeria’s democracy?
Similarly, the Senate summoned Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Lawal Babachir over the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Mr Lawal was alleged to have received the sum of N200m from the contract awarded by his company, Rholavision Engineering Ltd in Yobe state.
After Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting the Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East must have concluded its investigation, the committee recommended to the Senate that the SGF should be invited to clear the air on this.
The ad hoc committee later issued a fresh summon to the SGF through a letter dated 15th of March, 2017 and signed by the adhoc committee chairman, Shehu Sani (APC).
According to the letter, Lawal indicted of corruption and abuse of office in handling of the funds earmarked for tackling the humanitarian crisis in the North-East, and subsequently called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack him.
Dissatisfied with this, President Buhari, in January this year wrote a letter to the Senate and defended Mr Lawal. The president, however, gave reasons he could not act as demanded by the Senate to sack the SGF.
Mr Buhari said the SGF was not given fair hearing before the indictment, and that the report was only signed by three of the nine members of the ad hoc committee, thus making its report a minority report.
In his quick reaction, Mr Sani said seven of nine members of the committee signed the report, not three as claimed by the president. Now that Lawal has also gone to court to stop Senate’s action against him, who will save Nigeria’s democracy?
To crown it all, politicians, just to cause confusion in the Senate, they allegedly spread a report that Senator Dino Melaye forged his first degree certificate on Geography from Ahmadu Bello University.
May I ask them why is this coming up now after the rejection of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu?
Why is this coming up now after the Senate must have woken up to their responsibilities just to save Nigerians from being oppressed? If Senate had not fought to ensure that the Customs boss suspended his proposed car duties, would Nigerians not be paying through their noses now?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent our editorial policy