ANALYSIS The Senate drew a battle line against Acting President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) yesterday. Henceforth, the hallowed chamber will not honour any confirmation request from him. The Upper Chamber will only have a re-think, if the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, is sacked. Evidently, the Presidency will have to choose between fraternity with the Senate or retaining Magu, who is believed to have stepped on toes in the course of fighting graft. Having fought President Muhammadu Buhari to a standstill, it is now the turn of the Law professor to face the heat. Prof. Osinbajo may have stirred the hornets net when he repudiated the Senate for crossing its constitutional boundary in budget approval. Promptly, senators were up in arm against him. The All Progressives Congress (APC) midwifed the Presidency. Also, the ruling party controls the majority in the Senate. Therefore, it appears that the APC is at war with itself. But, the legislative/executive war of attrition has implications beyond party boundary. As the executive and legislature work at cross purposes, Nigerians are the victims of the curious ego war. The war even assumed another dimension on Tuesday. Senator Abaribe provoked a debate on what could be described as an imaginary power vacuum. He observed that, since President Buhari is on medical leave abroad and the Acting President also jetted out to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, for a function, the mantle of leadership should fall on Senate President Bukola Saraki. The first implication is that there is no end in sight to the Presidency/Senate rift. The frosty relationship has dragged on for two years, following Saraki’s emergence as the head of the National Assembly without the party’s backing. Yesterday’s tone of parliamentary debate suggested that a perilous future lay ahead for the beleaguered country. In a presidential democracy, when it appears that the parliament has become an unwilling partner, governmental activities may be crippled. The legislature is the first and the most important organ of government. It is the body that has its tap roots in the nooks and crannies of the country. Therefore, it should be the anchor of popular rule. In the absence of synergy between the two organs, there may be stagnancy. In recent times, Nigeria’s experience has suggested a drift towards that stagnancy. The gulf between the Presidency and the Senate has become widened. Apart from Magu’s rejection by the Senate twice, approval for presidential appointees have been denied in the past before reason prevailed. Once, the Senate refused to approve nominees for electoral jobs. Many have also pointed out that the delay in passing the budget was due to lack of amity between the two arms. There is mutual propaganda war in the media. Worried by the lack of mutual trust and confidence, the APC leadership brokered truce between the two arms of governance, but without success. According to observers, three factors are responsible for the legislative/executive warfare. There is absence of party discipline. The lack of discipline is attributed to the absence of party supremacy. Also, the APC has revealed itself as a party of strange ideological bedfellows. Its national leadership is weak and cannot broker peace. Once party loyalty is doubtful, discipline cannot be enforced. The picture contrasted with the idea of party organisation in the First and Second republics. What was in vogue was the national party caucus. It was the most powerful organ of the party, held in high esteem by the president, his deputy, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Yakubu Dogara), other top party leaders. It was led by the national chairman of the party (John Odigie-Oyegun). Many issues were debated and ratified at that level before they are brought to the parliament for constitutional approval. Grievances were also ventilated there. Once a decision was taken, it was final. There was decorum. The party, executive and National Assembly were on the same page. Can the APC adopt this time-tested style? If not, how can the legislature and the executive maintain cordial relations and steer the ship of state from disaster? The presidency is likely to put its feet down. A predictable resistance is expected from the National Assembly. The country, which the presidency and the senators claim to be working for, is the loser. If the President has a people-oriented plan for turning the country around, it should not be sacrificed on the altar of mutual distrust. Also, the presidency should consult and moderate its utterances and actions in utter sensitivity to the presence of a combative National Assembly. Will those in power ponder on the fate of the masses and retrace their steps from their rigid positions? By: Emmanuel Oladesu Nation]]>

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