…Canvass Respect for Constitution*
Leaders of the South and Middlebelt on Thursday condemned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Executive for their flagrant disregard for the legislative arm of government.
The South and Middlebelt Leaders Forum stated this when a high level delegation of group led by Chief Edwin Clark visited the leadership of the Senate in Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the body, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said the recent invasion of the Senate by thugs that forcefully snatch the mace of the Red Chamber and the refusal of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to honour the summons of the Senate were clear examples of the Executive’s disregard for the institution of the National Assembly.
Nwodo said: “We have come to you at a very difficult time in the history of our country. We are visiting the National Assembly because of its unique position in our constitution. The democratic system we run in our country rests on the three organs of government.
“For these three arms, the other two function in accordance with laws made by this arm. This arm characterises democracy because in a military government you will have both the judiciary and the executive.
“But it is only in a democratic government that you have the parliament. The parliament is a microcosm of the people because every section of the country has by adult suffrage delegated its voice to this parliament.
“So we believe that by visiting you today, we are coming to speak to the conscience of the country. We ask that these discussions today be as frank as possible because in situations like this, unless the National Assembly rises like one man, with a conscience, commitment and patriotism, to unveil the facade of partisan politics, partisan advantages, and face the real issues we stand of the edge of a precipice.
“We have watched the helplessness of the National Assembly where members of the executive even refuse your invitations to come and make explanations contrary to provisions of the constitution.
“We have found the helplessness of the Senate when you can be invaded in spite of the security adornment in this place controlled by the executive and the seat of the Senate President is almost invaded but for the personal security of the aides of its leadership.
“This is because our system makes the tail wag the dog rather than the dog wag the tail. This cannot be in a fountain of legislative authority for executive implementation, and yet they toy with the system.
“We have come to tell you that it is in our view that it is because we have this over-concentration of Powers in the Federal Government contrary to the agreement that our forefathers entered into for the nation called Nigeria. That governance has failed in our country. That economic development has failed,” he said.
He called for the revisit of the power development clause that was rejected in ongoing constitution alteration process as promised by the National Assembly.
He said: “We believe that many of the problems that we have in our country emanate from the constitution of our country. We know that the National Assembly has had debate on devolution of powers and we know, Mr. President, that you did promise the nation that you will have a revisit to this issue.
“We have come to ask you to bring up the revisit. We consider it urgent and inevitable because we believe that all problems we have today in Nigeria emanate from the fact that our constitution is not right for a country constituted by people of diverse culture, diverse religion, diverse political persuasions as our country,” he said.
On his part, President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly is ready to play its role to ensure that the country continues on the path of democracy and growth.
He noted that to strengthen democracy, the number one institution Nigerians must defend is the parliament.
He said the 8th National Assembly has been working hard to create enabling environment that will attract investors and that the Federal Legislature would continue along that line.
On the call to revisit clauses that were rejected during the ongoing constitution review process, Saraki said the National Assembly is ready to reconsider the clauses and that it would do so after the passage of the 2018 budget.
Other members of the delegation were Chief Olu Falae, Air Vice Marshall, Irangate Idongesit, Obong Victor Attah, Sen. Stella Omu, Prof. Banjo Akintoye, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Prof. Ihechukwuma Maduke, Sen. Basset Henshaw, Air Comm. Dan Suleiman (rtd), Mr. Alfred Mulade, His Highness Anaba Saraigbe and Lady Maryam Yunusa