Is Ahmad Lawan Compromising The Independence of The Legislature?

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Ahmad Lawan

Mon-Charles Egbo argues that Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has kept faith with his determination to collaborate with the executive without compromising the independence of the legislature

The principle of separation of powers is fruitful only when it is recognized and respected through collaboration among the three arms of government namely the executive, judiciary and the legislature. Certainly, not when they stand alone or at daggers drawn. For impactful results, the independence is not absolute but relative.

Going further, democracy and development are related to the extent that while the former is a process, the latter is an outcome which instructively, comes only with good governance. Democratic governance does not automatically translate to good governance. It is a function of governments’ direction and focus as inspired by the dispositions of the heads. Equally, the “heroes past” were indeed mindful that good governance is not common or about rhetoric which is why the responsibility to bring about it is vested with the legislature till date.

But this critical task is successfully performed by a parliament that is not just alive to its roles but is driven by passion and zeal to make the people the focus of governance. A parliament that in every circumstance is only seeking for what it holds for the man and his community. A legislature that believes that democracy is meaningful only when it is participatory where the people are not just actively involved but are fulfilled. A parliament whose leadership is always ready and willing to make necessary sacrifices within the ambit of the law, to ensure that the interests of the people are served. A leadership that provides solutions and creates opportunities. A leadership that understands that for impactful results, the independence of the arms should not be absolute but relative.

And of course, for keen observers, these are some of the remarkable differences between the 9th national assembly, particularly the senate, and the past parliaments at least since this republic. While the previous ones were concerned mainly about sustaining the democracy and seeking to preserve the independence of the legislature, the present is strategic, pragmatic and dynamic, without circumventing the laws in aligning with the collective ideals and aspirations of the people. Public good is its utmost goal. It always demonstrates that past experiences guide most of its actions. Above all, the 9th senate recognizes the demarcation in timelines between politics and governance.

Even at the risk of losing in the senate presidency contest, Ahmad Lawan was vocal, emphatic and consistent in his campaign to pursue a leadership that would collaborate with the other arms in ensuring that the good governance deliverables of this administration are delivered to the people, duly and timely. However, it was not just a blanket proposition. There was a proviso that in that cooperation, particularly with the executive, the independence of the legislature would remain sacrosanct. He would be disagreeing wherever and whenever necessary. In short, it did not matter to him whether or not he was being politically-correct. As long as it would be in the interest of the people, he is favourably-disposed to the position.

In the end, it paid off for him as he found willing allies and patriots who were hungry for such socio-political development. He was elected on the mantra of his resolve to collaborate and avoid unnecessary fights with the other arms for the benefit of the people’s well-being and security. Also his election was a statement of fact that our democracy has grown to a height where politics of ideology now has a place. He was voted in across party lines and religious as well as regional divides.

Objective review of the last six months indicates that he is still consistent and diligently committed to all these declarations. Rather than deviate, he is breaking more grounds. This is a mark of a dispassionate leader who is prepared to serve with integrity.

For instance, in agreement with his colleagues and both chambers, he graciously jerked up the budget proposal presented by the presidency, upon discovery that certain vital interests of the masses were not factored in the draft especially issues about security. Also he led the senate to reject the budget consideration of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and directed that it should be reworked. Again, it failed to recognize the interim board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) set up by the minister, Godswill Akpabio. Interestingly, NDDC is domiciled in the presidency. Yet there is a notion in certain quarters that the legislature is under the undue influence of the executive.

A few days ago and within twenty-four hours intervals at two different occasions, Lawan, made direct reference to the failure of the executive to provide security of lives and properties of the citizenry. He openly decried the state of insecurity plaguing the country and called for drastic measures by the executive, albeit with a promise for complementary urgent legislative interventions.

It is only a dispassionate and patriotic political leader that can exude such degree of courage in acknowledging the lapses of a government one is part of. Not minding that he is a critical member of the governing party (APC), he stamped his feet to divorce politics from the realities on ground.

Given his antecedents and the disposition of the 9th senate, it is only an absence of sufficient political will on the part of the executive that could further propagate this nagging issue of insecurity. The legislature has thrown its hat into the ring.

Empirically therefore, Ahmad Lawan has kept faith with his determination to collaborate with the executive without compromising the independence of the legislature. He has also consistently demonstrated that this resolve is not cast in the stone as he will “part with” any personality or institution that “goes wrong”. It is all about going beyond the rhetoric which evidently he has been doing, So, what every well-meaning Nigerian owes him and the 9th senate is cooperation and encouragement.

Egbo, a public relations practitioner can be reached at moncharles@yahoo.com