Agenda for 9th National Assembly
The relationship between the legislature and executive is one of the knottiest problems in the constitutional structure.
It has been argued that the three organs of government should be kept separate and distinct. But no arm is strictly separate and independent of the other. It is also observed in practice that in every state the legislature partakes in the work of the executive and vice versa.
But strict separation of powers is neither desirable nor practicable. Just as the legislature performs certain executive functions, similarly, the executive enjoys some legislative powers.
In other words, the government is an organic unity and the legislature and the executive need to work together but not necessarily forgoing the independence.
Taking into cognizance the relationship between the executive and the 8th National Assembly, it becomes instructive that there should be a point of convergence on most issues.
However, with the All Progressives Congress, APC, in control of the National Assembly the imperative for a robust relationship between the President and the National Assembly is expected.
Nevertheless, that does not suppose that the rancor that shadowed the relationship between the two arms of government was on account of party differences given that the APC had the majority of the two chambers, it was or less a matter of ego.
It should be stressed that the rancor that shadowed the relationship between the two arms of government was the derailment of several legislative initiatives from both the National Assembly and the Presidency in the last three years.
What will define the relationship between the National Assembly and the Presidency will undoubtedly flow from the new National Assembly leadership led by Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as President of the Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives, respectively.
No doubt, the two arms of government have to learn from the mistakes of the immediate past.
There are boundaries for each side to keep and they would do well to maintain themselves within such boundaries.
It is also instructive to stress that the executive should know that the legislative is an independent arm of government and it should not use its power to undermine the legislature.
It should be stated that Nigerians have suffered a lot of drawbacks in terms of legislative reforms, so many areas we expected the legislative to have carried out reforms but these were not done because of the problems and suspicions that shadowed the relationship between the two arms of government.
On the other hand, this National Assembly should also reflect on the role lawmakers played in the economic diplomacy of external debt relief between 1999 and 2006.
During this period, the National Assembly played a critical and complementary role to the Executive arm in attaining Nigeria’s foreign policy objective of securing external debt relief.
This paid-off with the grant of US$18 billion debt relief to Nigeria by the Paris Club of Creditors in 2005.
It is however gratifying to note that the newly elected President of the Senate has said that he would be fair to his colleagues irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliations.
He also promised to ensure a secure and a prosperous future for all Nigerians and to run a Senate that would be responsive to the needs of the masses. However, it is the candid view of this newspaper that in carrying out this daunting legislative task, the 9th Assembly should not be seen as appendage of the executive in the guise of smooth relationship between the two arms of government.