Democratic proponents advocated for the Independence of the Legislature, but the photo of one of the principal officers of the legislature kneeling to greet President Muhammadu Buhari shows that the 9th National Assembly is likely to be rubber-stamp of the APC-led executive.
The photo clearly shows the newly sworn in Deputy Senate President Senator Ovie Omo-Agege kneeling before Buhari when the new leadership of the National Assembly led by the new Senate President Ahmed Lawan paid a solidarity visit to the president in Aso Rock a few hours after the election and inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.
African culture pays so much attention to respect, but such a gesture becomes a burden, a serious one when an arm of the government that is meant to regulate the actions of the executive is worshipping it.
If Omo-Agege thought the function of the legislature is only to make laws, then something is likely to be wrong.
There are more than ten functions of the legislature which Omo-Agege represents, two of which are paramount to the independence of the legislature to constitutionally perform its roles.
One, the legislature has control over the budget. In a country where democracy is really working, the executive cannot spend a kobo without the approval of the legislature. It has the power to impose a cut on any demand on the budget presented before it by the executive.
Two, the legislature also has control over the executive and its cabinet, it has the power to summon the president or any member of his cabinet to answer critical questions in the interest of the country.
But what played out at the Residence State House in Abuja on June 11, 2019, maybe the reverse. We may see the executive making law, executing it, and summoning leadership of the National Assembly to answer questions bordering on passage into law bills that would be sent to it in the next four years.
To the members of the ruling All Progressive Congress it’s an overwhelming victory, yes, a victory for Buhari and the National Chairman “Commander” Adams Oshiomhole for the party to be in control of the legislature.
The fact that President Buhari, Senator Lawan, Omo-Agege, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy are all members of APC show that Nigerian shouldn’t expect much criticisms from the legislature.
If there are no criticisms from the Lawan-led legislature and Buhari fulfils his many electoral promises there may not be a problem, but that is doubtful.
The kneeling of Omo-Agege before Buhari may not be surprising to political observers considering the attachment of the Delta Senator to President Buhari since 2018.
In 2018, when Omo-Agege opposed the electoral amendment bill at the Senate, he was suspended for 90 days.
The Senate under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki had planned to reorder the timetable of 2019 elections.
The bold, daring, and fearless Omo-Agege accused the PDP voices leading the proposed amendment that it was targeted at Buhari and the ruling APC.
He staged a walkout alongside nine other senior lawmakers after the law was passed, sending two powerful messages to the president: 1) That he’s fighting Buhari’s course, 2) That Saraki is planning Buhari’s political downfall in the general election that would hold in 2019.
After his suspension, he would later storm the Upper Legislative Chamber to attend proceedings the day thugs, before over 100 senators, forcibly took away the mace, symbol of authority of the lawmaking chamber. He denied any connection with the killer-looking thugs.
He was summarily arrested and interrogated, but his release was described as Aso Rock motivated. That’s history, which has put Omo-Agege on the spot.
We want to believe that the recent kneeling of Omo-Agege before Buhari is a symbol of African culture of respect to the elder and not a way of worshipping Buhari “for rescuing me from the mace-snatching saga” or “thank you for influencing my election as the Deputy Senate President.”
Nigerians want to see a workable synergy between the executive and the legislature that will positively impact their lives in the next four years which the ruling party called “NextLevel”.
Rubber stamping the bills of the executive without proper scrutiny as to the effect it would have on the lives of the ordinary masses will be a total violation of the doctrine of democracy.
I congratulate the newly elected presiding officers of the Ninth National Assembly. Congratulations also to all national legislators and their political parties for the display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during today’s elections.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) June 11, 2019
As clearly exemplified by Buhari, ”The Executive does not desire a rubber stamp Legislature” Nigerians want to see this come into play.
Separation of powers is essential, yet collaboration among all Arms of Government should be the name of the game.
Stepping into the Next Level, the Lawan/Omo-Agege led Senate has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved for the ultimate good of the nation.
The legislature must not be emotionally attached to the executive for it to perform its role efficiently.