By Adedayo Akinwale
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the leadership of the National Assembly to be patient with any legislation or law which they have certain misgivings about and engage the process in line with democratic practices.
The president’s assertion may not be unconnected with the withdrawal of the controversial National Water Bill in the House of Representatives last week.
The president stated this Monday at a two-day Joint Executive-legislative Retreat with the theme: ‘Promoting Effective, Legislative Partnership and Finding a Middle Ground,’ held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He added that the retreat was an opportunity to interface and brainstorm as a government, while also commending the leadership of the ninth National Assembly for the cordial and warm relationship in the last one year.
Buhari stated: “Let me also remind our common patriots, gentle men and women, that the process of lawmaking and governance are dynamic and ever evolving, I will seek their indulgence to be patient with any legislation or law which they have certain misgivings about and engage the process in line with democratic practices. Our interest is sincere promotion of our collective will and aspiration to build a nation where justice, peace, and progress are the norm.”
President Buhari stated that by the virtue of effective partnership between the executive and legislature, his government has initiated critical reforms targeted at reforming and strengthening the economy, increasing efficiency in governance, consolidating on the reforms carried out in the last four years and putting the country on a steady path of growth and development.
He added that the accelerated process of the 2020 budget and its review in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the timely confirmation of his nominees and passage of critical legislations by the National Assembly are all testaments to the willingness and commitment of the legislative arm to playing its part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians.
The president however said there was a compelling need to sustain and strengthen the partnership between both arms by creating platforms for regular dialogue, consultations and interactions, to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.
This approach, he noted, would enhance coordination within government and strengthen capacity to effectively address the challenges of governance, service delivery and development.
The president said that he recently unveiled a nine-point priority development agenda of the present administration aimed at improving the livelihood of Nigerians within the next three years.
He emphasised that while all members of the executive council had been given clear mandates and yearly targets towards achieving the set indicators and goals, he recognised the critical role of the National Assembly in helping to deliver this agenda in the strategic role set by this government.
The president stated that the developmental goal cannot be achieved without the support and collaboration of the legislature.
He said he was aware that both the Senate and the House have adopted the new Legislative Agenda for the current Assembly.
Buhari noted: “The urgent need to align the nine-point priority agenda and the legislative agenda of both the Senate and the House of Representatives cannot be overemphasized. I will therefore suggest that a technical committee be established after this meeting to harmonise this critical and strategic document to help improve synergy and coordination.
“To drive effective implementation of the resolutions or agreements reached at this meeting and achieve its main objective, I will also recommend the establishment of a technical working group to synthesise the outcome and make appropriate recommendations for myself and the leadership of the National Assembly for action.”
Also, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, said the National Assembly decided to work together with the executive harmoniously to the benefit of Nigerians, adding that he was glad that the president expressed similar commitment.
He stated that it was time to review the partnership between the two arms after 12 months.
Lawan said the ninth Assembly is ready to live with the “rubber stamp” appellation inasmuch as it brings good governance to Nigerians.
Lawan stated: “In fact, this relationship is misunderstood. Some, out of mischief they describe the National Assembly as rubber stamp. What is utmost in our minds as members of the National Assembly, is how do we work with the executive to make Nigeria better.
“If the price to pay is the names that we get, then let it be the price, because we believe that Nigerians deserve better service, better Infrastructure development in the country and it is difficult if not impossible in this country or indeed in any democracy without understanding and harmony in the way and and manner the two arms of government work.”
On his part, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the engagement was long overdue, adding that he believed that the retreat would do nothing but enhance the relationship between both arms of government.