By Abdulwahab Oba
It is clearly no longer a matter of intuition for any discerning mind to know that the presidency and the 8th National Assembly (NASS) are at daggers drawn, and, have booby traps set and waiting for unguided moments to take revenge. From the presidency’s bare-faced disdain for NASS and insistence that they confirm the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, like it or not, despite what NASS say is a damning report by the Directorate of State Security (DSS) bothering on corruption, to NASS’s refusal to screen and confirm Presidency’s 27 nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ostensibly, as payback for the Magu affront, only the blind would wait for tables to start flying before coming round the fact that, as they say, there is fire on the mountain.
Indeed, if nothing else suggested a deepening Cold War between these two constitutionally separate arms of government, perhaps, the REC nominees list, was all NASS needed to open up on perceived asphyxiating relationship between it and the presidency. Until now, NASS had for weeks running, and still, subtly protested over presidency’s apparent meddling in its affairs, by putting Ahmed Ali, the Nigeria Customs boss, touted to be in the good books of Presidency, on the spot, and shockingly, the presidency refused to weigh in on the matter.
While it is not uncommon to disagree in all democracies, especially as such helps strengthen democratic fabrics and foster good relationship built on respect for separation of powers and unity of purpose, it is hard to imagine that the presidency continued to act unconcerned though, clearly, its position tantamount to affront on the integrity of NASS. Worse still, it leaves a bitter feel to imagine that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, which rose to power on the promise to strictly adhere to democratic tenets, are themselves, watching this macabre dance threatening all known democratic principles, and looking away, as if nothing is amiss.
Today, with nearly all sectors of the economy on its knees, it remains to be seen how the APC leadership with sustained in-fighting, jostling for King-pie political appointments and glaring disrespect for separation of powers between the three arms of government, would galvanize what is left of their hugely battered reputation, vision and integrity, to delivering the much elusive democratic dividends that cost the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) the presidency.
Starting well in its determination to fight corruption blamed largely for the hopeless situation in the land defined by under-development, poverty, poor infrastructure, among others, one thought that the presidency and APC leadership would conscientiously build on and deepen its corruption campaigns by learning and appropriating the rules of shared unity of purpose, respect for independence, negotiation and gentlemanly handshake across other arms of government, knowing it would not win the corruption war alone. Instead, it would seem, such factors as ego, personal interest and vendetta with their corresponding negative impacts, have infiltrated its ranks leading to the ensuing sour relationship between it and other arms of government.
But more curiouser is fact that neither the federal government nor EFCC has call to question some high-heeled officers of the government alleged to have unduly enriched themselves, including Secretary to Government of the Federation, (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, leading to the erroneous perception that there are sacred cows in the fight against corruption.
Babachir’s office, it was alleged, used a whooping N270 million, out of a total approved N12 billion for IDPs to execute a grass clearing contract at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. Alarming as the allegation is, especially involving a key government official, Babachir has since refused to obey senate summons to respond to the allegations, but instead, approached the court to scuttle investigations. That, in itself, is a dent on the anti-corruption of the APC.
While the NASS, like any other institution may have it shortcomings, and definitely it does, things can only get worse where its authority and role as a check on the excesses of other arms of government, particularly the Executive, is openly undermined. The unceasing amendments of charges against the Senate President and the shocking exposure that the FG filed the case against Saraki before looking for evidence to nail him have further exposed the executive as persecuting the legislative.
This, perhaps, underscores the need for Presidency and by extension, the APC leadership, to eat the proverbial humble-pie as they say, to put its house in order. For, as it is said, a house divided against itself, certainly, may endure for a season, but will surely fall.
It is high time the APC leadership learnt from the wisdom-engraved words of Albert Eistein, the German Theoretical Physicist, who said and I quote: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” There are ominous signs that all is not well with this government and the earlier it retraces its steps the better. In nearly every facet of the economy, you find yawning gaps of high, but unfulfilled promises; guarded, but simmering hopelessness; expectant, but dashed high hopes.
Now, it would seem that Armageddon has come to roost as crime index has risen geometrically. With the economy standing on a fragile pole; drifting into a coma almost as it shows no serious signs of recovery from scaring recession, division between the executive and legislature can only make its condition worse. Surely, the Nigerian people deserve better than the growing recourse to deadly arm-twisting and winner-takes-all politics, propaganda and cheap blackmail, which tend to put a wedge on inquests bothering on public officers integrity. For, truth remains that except for personal interests taken too far or misplaced vendetta by either parties, both belong to the same APC household though separate in operations as they are in modus operandi.
No doubt, there is still time to save the APC house from falling beginning by healing the wounds arising from the suspicion and distrust that greeted the election of NASS leadership at the start of this administration to the erroneous perception that one arm is superior to the other. But above all, this catastrophe can roundly be averted when each recognizes the other as a separate organ in one body working for national progress. Only by these can the APC deliver maximal democracy dividends that would separate it from the same folly that cost the PDP the people’s trust when they needed it the most. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!
**Oba, can be reached via email@example.com