By Rachel Kufreabasi Nse
In an ideal democracy which Nigeria is copiously adopting, separation of powers is one of the pillars on which Government is anchored.
Notwithstanding the above, they still complement each other in the onerous task of nation-building and in guaranteeing the positive growth and development of the country.
When the 9th National Assembly came into being, and the leadership emerged with the backing of the ruling party, unlike the 8th Assembly that preceded it, the people expected that there will be a better working relationship between the executive, the legislature and of course, the judiciary.
Though they exist independently, they are meant to perform the role of checks and balances. In doing so, they avoid encroaching on each other’s responsibilities and constitutionally assigned roles.
As the representative of the people, the National Assembly should be seen to align to their constitutional responsibilities and shun all forms of political and party leaning, in the course of discharging their duties. The above can not be said of this 9th Assembly.
The 8th Assembly were rancorous with the executive leading to myriads of challenges and endless crisis arising from disagreements over the manner of emergence of the leadership of the NASS, budget padding and delay budget passage, jumbo pay, refusal to clear nominees of the executive timely, among other issues.
The leadership crisis lingered beyond expectation which led to defection from one political party to another.
The ugly moments took another turn when in a commado style political thugs invaded the Red chambers creating pandemonium made away with the Mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. The nation watched with dismay and disbelief the show of shame and gross misconduct by one of its own which led to the desecration of the hallowed chamber of the Senate.
With the emergence of the 9th Assembly from the leadership of the party, one would have expected more support and cooperation from the National Assembly to the executive. The legislators carry this heavy burden of effective representation with all the seriousness it deserves.
The President has expressed his readiness and commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region. Happenings of recent has shown the NASS in the light of a clog in the wheel of the process of development of the region.
Heeding the call for accountability and probity by the Governors of the region, the President set out to redirect the course of development by calling for a Forensic audit of the funds that accrued to the region through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Due process was followed and the FEC approved of the auditing firms. The President not wanting any interference set up the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC to oversee the forensic audit process. The IMC is recognized under the act of the NDDC and they set to work.
The auditing firms are gathering momentum and gearing up to deliver within it’s approved time frame. They are carrying out with the cooperation of the IMC put in place by the President for this purpose.
The NASS being fully aware of the Constitutional powers of the President to set up the IMC, bickered over the composition of the IMC. Not done questioning the legality of the IMC, they went a step further by dragging the IMC through a media trial by accusing the 7 month old IMC, for the late passage of the 2019 Budget and other financial misappropriation.
In the midst of all these, it is the Niger Delta people that suffer. There’s an urgent need to address the challenges of power failure, critical infrastructural decay, insecurity, crass poverty, corruption, environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region, amongst others.
The legislators are brazenly undermining the President who in exercising his executive powers set up the IMC to oversee the Commission while it undergoes the forensic audit from inception till date.
The NASS is exhibiting a callous disregard of the democratic principles which empowers the Executive to appoint into positions in office.
A dangerous trend is being set and it’s threatening the continuing practice of democratic structures in the country, if care is not taken.
The Constitution provides for the full adoption of the doctrine of separation of powers and not antagonistic show of strength as the NASS is seen to be of the executive.
NASS in a recent resolution have declared constitution backed forensic auditors of no mean repute as illegal. This is an affront not only to the executive arm of government that hired the auditors following due process but the Judiciary since the NASS have illegally arrogated to themselves the judicial powers of declaring the firms illegal.
Rachel Kufreabasi Nse writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State
State Coordinator, Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative