The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) called on the leadership of the Senate to resist any form of intimidation to surrender its independence and pass bills and requests without statutory legislative scrutiny and oversights. It made the call in a statement on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, and asked the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly to stand its ground. The main opposition party predicated its position on the comment credited to the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, that any request from President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly was good for the nation.
It added that the lawmaker was quoted as saying that such requests were in the best interest of the country, even without subjecting them to statutory legislative scrutiny.
The PDP, however, described such a stance as unconstitutional and unacceptable, saying it amounted to relinquishing statutory powers of checks and balances of the National Assembly.
“This, our party notes will create an alarming impression that the present National Assembly has been annexed by the executive and reduced to a rubber-stamp legislature.
“The statement by the Senate President has heavily detracted from the expected independence of the legislature. It is fast eroding the confidence Nigerians have on the Senate and the National Assembly, as true representatives of the people at the national level,” the party said.
It noted that even if the Senate leadership believed in the import of any request or bill from the President, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) required the legislature to pass such through its statutory checks and balances processes to ensure that the content and intent were in tandem with overall national interest.
According to the PDP, such legislative checks are enshrined in the Constitution to curtail the excesses of the executive as well as create room for democratic tenet of citizens’ participation through their elected representatives.
“Anything to the contrary is a direct suspension of our Constitution, enthronement of dictatorship and a sidestepping of the legislative powers, which is capable of destroying the institution of the National Assembly,” it warned.
The party added, “Moreover, legislative processes for statutory interfaces with other arms of government, particularly the executive, is governed by the Constitution, laid down legislative rules, practices and conventions, and not by the narrow-minded assumptions of any single individual.”
It stressed that the National Assembly is the symbol of Nigeria’s democracy and an institution that belongs to the people and not to any political party or group.
The PDP insisted that ceding the independence of the Legislature was not different from surrendering the sovereignty of the people.
It, therefore, asked members of the National Assembly to ensure they live up to their billings by insisting on their oversight functions, as well as take immediate steps to reassure Nigerians on their capacity to protect their interests at all time.