By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
The principle of separation of powers is meant to ensure that the legislative, judiciary and executive powers of government are not concentrated in any single body but distributed accordingly. In this situation, they are expected to act as checks and balances upon one another to prevent any branch from exerting too much powers. This being the case, it is very crucial to put strong and independent judiciary and legislative in place to curb the excessive tendencies of the executive in order to achieve sustainable developments in the polity. This is the standard requirement in every democratic setting and anything short of this is not acceptable and should not be contemplated because Nigeria is not an exception. So, if any government believes that it can `ONLY operate and deliver the dividends of democracy by pocketing or taking total control of the judiciary and the legislative arms; that means it has ulterior motives and should not be trusted. It is in line with the above assertions that I want to use this medium to commend members of the just dissolved 8th Assembly for their contributions to the sustenance of democracy and their efforts towards achieving good governance in the country. You have done your best despite ceaseless internal/external intrigues and distractions. Posterity will judge each and every one of you appropriately in line with the roles you played during your tenure.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, it will be most expedient to congratulate the newly elected and returning lawmakers for their victories at the polls. I pray that God will guide and grant you the grace and understanding to perform your functions responsibly towards moving the country forward in all ramifications. As you constitute the 9th Assembly, it is my considered opinion that it will also be very crucial at this juncture to remind you that the legislative arm of government is very key under the democratic system of governance which we are practicing in the country. As a result, it will be in the interest of all and sundry that you go with the mindset of ensuring that your contributions will be guided by the `principles of rule of law` for the provision of good governance. You are required to view all issues objectively and patriotically for the collective interest of the nation. Do not imbibe the antics of some members that are always quick to pass the bulk of blame on the desks of others in order to be seen as `saints` and friends of the executives or champions of the opposition.
The National Assembly is the engine room of democratic governance where the wellbeing of the masses and the development of the country should be the paramount priorities of the law makers. In as much as it is true that you were elected on the platforms of your respective political parties; all that should become immaterial to the primary focus of putting the interests of the nation foremost in all your deliberations and contributions. Your loyalty should be to the country and the citizenry in all ramifications. You must bear it in mind that it will be counter-productive to allow partisan considerations to becloud your objectivism. Therefore, it is very important for members to have it at the back of their minds that they will be held jointly accountable for the functioning of this unique arm of government. Thus, all hands must be on deck to ensure that you always do the needful as true representatives of the people. Consequently, the problems or challenges of any one part of the country should be seen as a national problem and must be treated as such. As senators and members of the house of representatives from other parts of the country; if you believe that the issue of insecurity in the North East or any other region(s) for that matter is not your problem or of concern to you; then, it is very certain that you really do not understand the nitty gritty of what you are in the hallowed chambers to do. Therefore, it is very pertinent for you to quickly embrace the truth of the matter and the fact that the country will only begin to experience peace, unity and developments if issues are seen from objective and national perspectives rather than from myopic ethnic and religious angles.
It will also be in your interest and that of the country not to allow yourselves to be deceived or cajoled by the antics of some self styled `ists` and `isms` who champion unpatriotic and sentimentally unobjective submissions and inferences on social media and other platforms with the aims of causing disaffection amongst the people. They give the erroneous impression that they have the interest of the country and the people at heart; whereas, they are the real enemies of our nation. Therefore, you should take it upon yourselves to always stand for the truth and endeavour to have a good understanding about issues of national concerns. This will enable you to make informed and articulated contributions and also to cast your votes appropriately on the floor of the house. Though, it is a known fact that no man has monopoly of knowledge and it is not mandatory that you must know all things off-hand; you are at liberty to make consultations or solicit for assistance from people that are vast and or can do appropriate research(es) for you in this regards. (I will be readily available to assisting in this regard, as long as it will be for the promotion of democracy and for the good of our country and the citizenry).
In addition to the aforesaid, law makers are also expected to be prepared to work in any committee that they are appointed into. It is your responsibility to put in committed and patriotic zeal towards ensuring that you meet and surpass the targets of your assignments. All committees are very important to the development of the country and for the wellbeing of the citizenry. Therefore, the principal officers of the national assembly should also ensure that people are appointed into the committees objectively (according to their skills and competencies) for optimal returns and not based of favouritism or parochial partisan considerations. The idea of making reference to some committees as `juicy` should be discouraged, discountenanced and totally eliminated from the hallowed chambers because it gives the impression that members are in for `commercial business deals` to corruptly enrich themselves rather than the `business of governance`. In fact, that terminology should be ` banned` within the four corners of the chambers.
At this juncture, I am very sure that some people will be wondering about the relevance of this write -up considering the fact that a good number of the law makers have been in the `business` for several years and they are expected to be accustomed to the fundamental principles of the functions of the assembly. But, in as much as this assertion cannot be totally waived aside, it is also very important to quickly mention that if that is the case; such members would not have been made to re-contest elections and be validly re-elected into the house in the first place. So, you will agree with me that it is not out of place to re-emphasize these principles for better appreciation and understanding by the returning members and the new comers.
In view of the above, it is obviously very pertinent for members of the 9th Assembly, to consider the enormous sacrifices that were put in place to attain our present uninterrupted democracy vis-à-vis the sacrifices and expectations to be put in place to sustain and ameliorate from where we are. You should not allow partisan sentiments cum ethnic and religious bigotism and parochialism to throw a spanner in the works.
I wish you all the best.
Please note that the above recommendations are without prejudice to all subsisting suits at the various Election Petition Tribunals/Courts.
We are waiting and watching.
Oise-Oghaede is a public policy analyst/commentator, he sent in this piece from Surulere, Lagos. He can be reached via 08023116867 and 08099405562.