Be Patient, Seek Reform of Legislations, Buhari Tells Aggrieved Nigerians

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Muhammadu Buhari

•We accept rubber stamp label for good governance, says Lawan

By Adedayo Akinwale

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to be patient and seek reform of some laws of the land which they have misgivings about, in line with democratic practices.

This is coming as the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has frowned at those describing the National Assembly as a rubber stamp, saying that if such label is the price the lawmakers will pay for working harmoniously with the executive to ensure good governance, then it is acceptable.

Buhari made the appeal yesterday in Abuja at the two-day joint executive-legislative retreat designed to promote harmonious working relationship between the two arms of government.

The new Company and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA) signed into law by the president on August 7, had been generating negative comments from various quarters, including religious leaders.

The contentious part of the law is Section 839 (1) and (2) which empowers the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to suspend trustees of an association (including places of worship) and appoint interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons.

Prominent church leaders have criticised some sections of CAMA 2020 and called for its urgent review.

But the president had in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, explained that CAMA 2020 would entrench transparency and corporate accountability and enhance the fight against corruption.

Apart from CAMA 2020, the controversy generated by the controversial National Water Resources Bill also forced the House of Representatives to withdraw it for representation to the lawmakers.

However, Buhari yesterday reminded the citizens that the process of law-making and governance are dynamic, promising that his administration would continue to promote and ensure justice, peace, and progress in the country.

He said: “Let me also remind our fellow patriots, countrymen, and women that the process of law-making 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 for reviewing such law in line with democratic practices.

“Our interest is the sincere promotion of our collective will and aspirations to build a nation where justice, peace, and progress are the norms.’’

Speaking on the executive/legislative partnership, Buhari stressed the need for more effective collaboration between the two arms of government to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.

He noted that the retreat offered an opportunity for the two arms to reflect and engage as one government, for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Buhari said: “I believe that the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution is designed to enable all arms of government to work together in a cooperative and collaborative manner, through executive and legislative engagements.

“Let me thank the leadership and members of the ninth National Assembly for the cordial and warm relationship we have enjoyed in the last year.”

“The quick passage of the 2020 budget and its review in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the timely confirmation of my nominees and passage of critical legislations by the National Assembly are all testament to your willingness and commitment to play your part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians

“There is a compelling need to sustain and strengthen this partnership by creating platforms for regular dialogue, consultation, and interaction between the Executive and the Legislature to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.

“This approach will enhance coordination within government and strengthen our capacity to effectively address the challenges of governance, service delivery and development.’’

The president noted with delight that the country had since started reaping the benefits of the cordial relationship of the two arms government.

He said: “By virtue of our effective partnership and your support, this government has initiated critical reforms targeted at reforming and strengthening our economy, increasing efficiency in governance, consolidating on the repairs carried out in the last four years, and putting the country on a steady path of growth and development.

“The accelerated of the passage of the 2020 budget and its review in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the timely passage of my nominees and passage of critical legislation by the National Assembly are all testaments to your willingness and commitment to playing your part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians.’’

He thanked the leadership of the National Assembly for adopting a new legislative agenda and called for the inauguration of a committee to help sieve the outcome of the retreat and make appropriate recommendations to him and the National Assembly for implementation.

In his remarks, Lawan hailed the cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms of the government.

He also commended Buhari’s commitment towards sustaining and strengthening the partnership between the two arms.

Lawan, however, berated those describing the National Assembly as the rubber stamp of the executive.

He said: “In fact, this relationship is misunderstood by many. Some out of mischief describe the National Assembly as rubber-stamp, some out of misunderstanding.

“For us, what is utmost in our minds in the ninth 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, because, we believe that Nigerians deserve better service, better infrastructure and it is difficult if not impossible to achieve a meaningful development in this country or any democracy without understanding and harmony in the way and manner the two arms of government work.

“So far, we have been doing this for over 12 months. So, it’s time to review this partnership and see the weaknesses in the relationship and the areas we have achieved so much and say this relationship has worked and have achieved some level of improved service delivery.’’

According to him, the retreat will present opportunities to review and strengthen areas of weaknesses.

He, therefore, expressed the hope that the next two days both arms would talk to each other in “a frank and truthful manner because what we do here impact significantly on the polity, governance, and Nigerians deserve to have what we promised them.’’

Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said both arms needed to work symbiotically to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

“This two-day engagement will do nothing but to strengthen the relationship between these two critical arms of government and enhance it so that people will be better for it.

“I believe it will be frank, truthful, we will speak truth to each other and I believe the outcome will be to the benefit of all Nigerians,’’ he said.