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Buhari: N’ Assembly should be independent to decide its leadership

By Nathaniel Zacchaeus, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the National Assembly should enjoy its independence and be able to freely choose its leaders without any interference from the executive arm of government.

He made the observation when he inaugurated the Permanent Site of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Abuja.

Those in attendance were, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Principal Officers of the National Assembly; the Director General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, among other dignitaries.

The President said that the harmonious working relationship between his administration and the 9th National Assembly, had led to the great successes recorded by his government but that he refrained from meddling in their internal affairs.

He said, “The legislature is the cornerstone of any democracy and is vital to ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of all Nigerians are considered during the law-making process.

“It also performs critical functions of overseeing the Executive and ensuring that government spending aligns with legislative intent.

“As you are aware, from the moment of my election in 2015 and subsequently, I supported the idea of an independent National Assembly.

“An Assembly that can decide its leadership and develops its agenda in line with the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“I refrained from meddling in the affairs of the legislature and promoted instead, a culture of mutual respect and collaboration between the two arms.

“Our successes as a government are primarily due to the harmonious relationship between the Executive and the Legislature.

“The numerous positive outcomes for our country Nigeria underscore the importance of a harmonious Executive-Legislature relationship.

“Working with the National Assembly, we have passed an unprecedented number of Bills into law, provided funding for key infrastructure, implemented several governmental reforms, and addressed some of the long-standing challenges that have hampered economic growth and development.

“Our achievements in reforming the oil and gas sector, strengthening the electoral framework, diversifying our economy, improving transparency and accountability, tackling insecurity, and entrenching good governance are easily verifiable.

“As such, this 9th Assembly will be remembered as one of the most productive in terms of outputs and outcomes.

“I thank the Leadership of the National Assembly for giving me the support required to deliver on my promises to Nigerians.”

Buhari noted that the NILDS permanent site remained “a critical first step towards bolstering the capacity of the legislature to improve its law-making, oversight, and representation functions.”

Lawan on the occasion, described Buhari as the most parliament-friendly president since 1999.

He also commended him for making the completion of the NILDS permanent site, possible through adequate funding.

The Senate President said the Ninth National Assembly also supported the President to ensure the timely delivery of critical infrastructures.

He said, “In the last three years, the Senate and the House dedicated a substantial part of the national budget towards funding infrastructure development across all six geo-political zones.

“As a result of this collaboration between the legislature and the executive, hundreds of roads, bridges, and rail lines across Nigeria have been constructed or rehabilitated.

“In addition, we have also passed several legislations to provide an overarching framework for sustainable economic growth and development.

“Significantly also, the investment in infrastructure development extends to all six geo-political zones of the country. Indeed, history will remember President Buhari’s tenacity and unwavering commitment to charting a new course for Nigeria.”

•Reject APC zoning, group tells lawmakers-elect, warns against rubber stamp NASS

The Parliamentary Advocacy Network (PAN) Nigeria yesterday, urged the newly elected members of the incoming 10th National Assembly to reject plans by the All Progressives Congress to select their next presiding officers.

The group stated this while addressing journalists in Abuja.

National coordinator of PAN Nigeria, Prince Anderson Osiebe, said the group has been engaging with political stakeholders on the issue, in the last two months.

The group warned that repeating the mistake of 2019 when the positions of presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly were micro-zoned, will birth another rubber stamp Assembly.

Osiebe said certain criteria should be considered by lawmakers-elect in picking the next leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

He said, “We condemn in its entirety the interference and many glaring attempts of members of the Executive at both the National and State levels to choose Presiding Officers for members of the Legislature in these aforementioned jurisdictions.

“We note that the Legislature is a different and independent arm of government recognised by our Constitution.

“We call on members to resist by every legitimate means, including legal actions, all attempts by the Executive or their proxies at the Federal level and the States to inelegantly interfere in their affairs.
“They should also reject any attempt to bend or break the rules of such a legislative House or Houses to accord undue advantage to anyone among their members in the bid to choose a leader or leaders being favoured by the members of the Executive or their proxies.

“We affirm that after 24 years of practising our kind of Constitutional democracy, the legislature has come a long way and, therefore, retains at all levels its independence and financial autonomy accorded to it by our statute books.

“We, therefore, urge lawmakers-elect never to be intimidated or muscled by any threats emanating from any Executive quarters or their proxies.

“We again condemn the inherent loopholes in the so-called zoning arrangements of Presiding Officers’ positions in our National Assembly allegedly done by the ruling APC and the President-Elect.

“The action had thrown the entire lawmakers-Elect, their political parties, and the nation at large unto an avoidable collision course.

“We, therefore, urge lawmakers-elect to take the destiny of the National Assembly as freely entrusted to them by Nigerians in their hands.

“They should jettison the vexed issue of the ill-advised zoning arrangements in favour of a wholly open contest that will favour popularity, leadership zeal, competence as well as True Nationalistic Characters and Fervour of all candidates for various positions.

“We call on all lawmakers-elect across the country to permanently remain resolute and committed to the complete independence of the Legislature.

“They should continue to do everything to uphold same during the pendency of the 10th National Assembly and the various Assemblies in the States and reminds them that they can at all times count on the support of the people and the protection of the law.”

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