I am an adopted ‘Lagos boy’, a self-styled ‘Buharist’, a fan of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and a believer in the notion that the APC is the best thing to happen to Nigeria since the discovery of the revered Agege Bread. I am also a shrewd student of international politics. This is why I believe that it is necessary to comment on a picture that is making the rounds in the national dailies and on online platforms that shows President Muhammadu Buhari, flanked by Tinubu, and Chief Bisi Akande, a former interim-Chairman of the APC.
Anybody that truly understands democratic politics would agree with me on these next points. In more-developed democratic nations, as soon as a government is formed, regardless of the constitution of the individuals that make up that government, it is expected that the leaders of that government have to work together. A careful case in point is President Barack Obama having to work with the Republican Speaker of the United States (US) House of Representative, John Boehner, and the Majority Leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, who is also a Republican.
However one chooses to look at it, it is unacceptable that nearly 100 days since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly, President Buhari has chosen not to engage in a formal capacity with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who is a member of his own party. This development is equally problematic when you look at the President’s statement immediately after the June 9th election of presiding officers of the National Assembly in which he stated that Saraki’s election was in fact constitutional – as he was chosen by a majority of his colleagues.
I do not believe in politics of personalities. I believe in politics for the greater good. That is why I cannot stop being baffled that the President would choose to meet with two of the men that were instrumental in calling a phantom meeting in his name, and without his permission with the Senators at the International Conference Center in Abuja on the 9th of June – thus, depriving a vital chunk of APC Senators their right to vote. These same people allegedly illegally ordered the Inspector General to shut the gates of the National Assembly against even members-elect and their families.
What’s more difficult to understand, is that the meeting with Buhari, Tinubu, and Akande was allegedly to discuss the upcoming ministerial list. This is because with the Senate being the constitutionally mandated legislative body to approve the nominees of the executive branch, I wonder why the President chooses to meet instead with private citizens like Tinubu and Akande, instead of consulting with the ‘constitutionally elected’ Senate President on the next steps that his nominees will eventually have to face – legislative vetting and confirmation.
I believe that in the interest of Nigeria which we all clamour should move forward, this perceived ‘Cold War’ needs to end right now. Buhari and Saraki need to mend any broken fences to get the lasting nation-building underway. As things are, executive powers can only go so far. In a similar vein, the powers of the legislature stop at oversight without the signature of the President. For his legacy, Buhari needs Saraki’s Senate to be effective, as much as Saraki’s Senate needs Buhari’s presidential pen to pass any bills into law.
This man-made checkmate cannot be allowed to continue. It sets a dangerous tone for the future of Nigeria under this administration, and a more dangerous precedent for the future of our country’s democracy.
– Chima Chime writes from Lagos –