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IS THE LEGISLATURE AN EXECUTIVE APPENDAGE?

IS THE LEGISLATURE AN EXECUTIVE APPENDAGE?

The Legislature is unarguably the numero uno in democratic governance. It stands and acts in loco parentis vicariously for the people of the polity. In it is the totality of the people and their aspirations, their whims and caprices, their needs and wants, their likes and dislikes, the hoi polloi and the intelligentsia, the rabble and the artisan, and indeed the people. The Legislature becomes that body politic that is the custodian of the people’s will and therefore oversees the activities of the other two branches of government, to wit: the Judiciary and the Executive. The legislature is the fulcrum, the engine room, the life wire and indeed the very representative of the people whose interests are served by the Executive and the Judiciary who ordinarily should be seen as servants of the people. This may sound very academic as in practice the Executive takes the shine and lords it over the other branches, and by extension the very people who they are supposed to serve.

Democracy quickly gives way to elective despotism if it is shore of a vibrant Legislative arm. While the Legislature is constitutionally saddled with law making, it is also constitutionally empowered to have oversight functions on the activities of the other two branches to ensure compliance with the extant laws in force and ensures the delivery of the common good. To underscore the importance, relevance and primacy of the Legislature, immediately there is a military take-over, it is usually the Legislature that the invading forces do away with, totally, while they will incorporate all or some members of the Executive and leave the Judiciary untouched. This means that the invading forces recognize and ascribe to the Legislature its prime position as representatives and personification of the people whose collective will the invaders had appropriated and stolen, hence the need to sweep them off the scene while democracy is being rubbished.

However, in a civilian dispensation, the Legislature is supposed to be the sure guarantee of the interest and welfare of the citizenry. While citizens can comment on the activities of the Executive and the Judiciary, the issues they raise are given more impetus when ventilated on the floor of the Legislative which has the capacity to make the Executive respond to the people’s yearnings through oversight and law making process. Consequently, it is the Legislative that fine funds the budgetary proposal of the government with a view to ensuring even and succinct distribution of social amenities and projects. The Legislature, it is, that has the capacity of recalling an erring government official to tow the path of rectitude. Just as it is constitutionally empowered to screen and confirm executive nominees, it is supposed to monitor and appraise the activities of such functionaries. That is why nominees for appointment as members of the Executive arm and some levels of Judicial officers are mandatory required to go to the Legislature for screening, rejection, acceptance or confirmation; recall the recurring case of Magu, the EFCC acting chairman, whose nomination has been submitted and rejected twice by the senate.

However, the Senate has been lampooned for not showing that it can bite in the face of many obvious infractions of the laws and constitution by the Executive. Consequently, the Executive has swooned on the Senate and emasculated it to the point of dragging it to court on its own interval operations which are constitutionally meant to be without external interference. As was the case in Nazi Germany, when they came for the Jews, the Catholics, the workers and the Protestants, everybody was quick to pass the buck until they came for the ordinary man and there was nobody to assist. The Senate is now manacled and without anyone to assist it as its leadership is harassed and hounded to the point of a deafening silence and compliance; ditto for the lower House.

The situation is what pundits called a parastatal parliament that operates and panders to the whims and capricious interests of the Executive branch. This has resulted to sheer disdain of the Legislature, at the centre, by the Executive, to the extent that the executive appointees whose appointments were confirmed by the Legislature have turned round to dare and engage the hallowed chambers in a war of attrition and verbal umbrage. In this land, before now and before the 8th Parliament, it has never been heard of that a public servant would blatantly refuse to honour a National Assembly invitation. Political observers insist that the 8th Senate, though embattled, remains the most obtuse and weak one, due to the fact that it has fallen short of its glory and expectations, hence, the pummeling by the Executive. Look at the case of the helmsman of the Customs who regales in the high office and enjoys all the trappings, droppings and accoutrements of that office but feels pained to don the regalia of that office because he feels he is a messiah on a change operation which is yet to manifest. He scoffed at and rebuffed the Senate, little did he know that he was scoffing at and rebuffing the Nigerian people who the Senate represents.

It is therefore, very worrisome that this is happening now and nothing is being done to checkmate this drift to a dictatorial government where the Legislature has become an Executive appendage, moving at the will and direction of the Executive. May God save Nigerians.

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