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Buhari and the National Assembly

National Assembly

The gulf between the Presidency and the National Assembly widened yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari may have drawn the battle line with the parliament. The bone of contention is the Election Sequence Adjustment Bill, which the lawmakers passed  despite the criticisms that trailed it.

The President has refused to assent to the bill, making its fate to hang in the balance. But, not for long. According to the constitution, the bill will revert to the National Assembly, following the withholding of the critical presidential assent. Should the National Assembly override the presidential veto, the frosty relationship will continue. It is not in the interest of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). It will not be in national interest.

Tempers rose in the chambers when the bill was introduced. The National Assembly began the debate on it after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time table for next year’s general elections. Whose agenda is the bill serving?

Many critics have insinuated that the motive of those behind the bill is to make the electoral commission to retrace its steps and reorder the election timetable so that the presidential election will come last. It was speculated that after the parliamentary and governorship elections have been completed, forces against President Buhari will swing into action and abort his second term bid. Instructively, the President is yet to unfold any re-election bid. But Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State is adamant that the bill is targeted at the president’s second term ambition.

A few weeks ago, the umpire raised the alarm that the bill came late, stressing that its retroactive implementation might throw spanners in its plans for the elections. Irked by the scenario, former INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega, advised his successor, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, to go to court to seek legal interpretation.

What is worrisome to observers is that the ruling party has majority in the National Assembly.  Why are APC senators, now supported by their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) colleagues, at war with the president under the guise of separation of powers? Is a special reconciliation not necessary now between the APC-Presidency and the APC-dominated National Assembly? Where will the acrimony lead the party to?

When the legislature, the first and the most important organ of government is at loggerheads with the so-called power-loaded executive, is the eclipse of democracy not imminent?

The party is battling with many crises in an election year. Its troubled state chapters are on the edge. Some founding fathers are complaining that they have been sidelined.  Calls for congresses and convention and resistance to the legitimate clamour have boxed party supporters into anxiety. Is APC being indirectly subverted or undermined to deliberately weaken and decimate it? Are some APC stalwarts bent on reinventing the strategy that led to the mass exodus from the PDP, ahead of 2015 elections?

The weakness of the party leadership is underscored by its aloofness, its lack of capacity to restore order into a state of pandemonium and lack of skill for crisis resolution. Indeed, the leadership may have become an albatross to the political family. What is the position of the party, for example, on the contentious bill? Where is the party caucus? How can the party be supreme when the party caucus is ineffective? How can a party avert indiscipline and promote consensus building when such a towering party organ is dormant? How can a party position be canvassed when there is none?

The party caucus should be the conscience of the party. It is an avenue for closing communication gaps and intra-party ventilating grievances. It is a forum for the articulation of party positions. It is an arena for projecting party policies and programmes, and motivating members to support the government.

Party language is spoken by members at the caucus. Decisions are collectively taken and defended afterwards. Although senators elected on a party platform have the constitutional right to engage issues on the floor, negation of the party directive will be tantamount to indiscipline and anti-party activities.

Many things are wrong with the APC. It is not laying a good example for other parties.


The post Buhari and the National Assembly appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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This post was syndicated from The Nation Nigeria. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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