SGF’s Visit, a Boost in Ex­ec­u­tive-Leg­is­la­ture Re­la­tion­ship

The visit of the new Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion, Al­haji Boss Mustapha to the lead­er­ship of the Na­tional As­sem­bly was not only his­toric, but sym­bolic in many ways than one, writes Chuks Okocha

THISDAY - - MIDWEEK POLITICS - – Okocha, the Special As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent of Se­nate on Print Me­dia wrote in from Abuja

The visit of the new Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion (SGF), Al­haji Boss Mustapha to the lead­er­ship of the two arms of the Na­tional As­sem­bly ush­ered in a new op­por­tu­nity for both the ex­ec­u­tive and the leg­is­la­ture to work to­gether for the progress of the coun­try.

It is sym­bolic and his­toric be­cause this is the first time, the holder of that of­fice, considered as the en­gine room of the ex­ec­u­tive arm of gov­ern­ment, would visit the leg­is­la­ture to so­licit for a smoother and bet­ter re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two.

In the past, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two arms of gov­ern­ment had been frosty.

Ap­par­ently not dis­posed to play the can­tan­ker­ous role of his pre­de­ces­sor, who was booted out of of­fice for his in­fa­mous role in the ‘grass cut­ting’ scan­dal in the In­ter­nally Dis­placed Camps (IDPs), the new SGF, a lawyer and grass root politi­cian de­cided on as­sump­tion of of­fice to thaw the hith­erto frosty re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two arms of gov­ern­ment.

The new SGF did not pre­tend about his mis­sion to the Na­tional As­sem­bly. First, he met with the Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki who also is the chair­man of the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Af­ter, the usual cour­te­sies, he went straight to the sub­ject of his visit. He said, “Let me put it on record that your lead­er­ship has helped tremen­dously in sta­bi­liz­ing the polity and also given the pur­pose­ful di­rec­tion that we re­quire at the Pres­i­dency to en­sure that we de­liver on the prom­ises that we made to the Nige­ria peo­ple when we sought for their man­date in 2015.

“You ran for the Se­nate in your con­stituency in Kwara State, but I re­mem­ber vividly serv­ing as the Di­rec­tor, Con­tact and Mo­bi­liza­tion of the Cam­paign, that you were all over the place cam­paign­ing to en­sure that Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari won the elec­tion and we did win de­ci­sively. So, sir, thank you so much for what you have done to en­sure the APC’s vic­tory. Af­ter your emer­gence as the Chair­man of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and also the Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, you have pro­vided the kind of lead­er­ship that is re­quired, as I said, to sta­bi­lize the polity. Nige­ria as a na­tion has been go­ing through some storms that we in­her­ited but be­cause of your able lead­er­ship and your col­leagues in the Se­nate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, we have sta­bi­lized this process to a large ex­tent.

“Go­ing for­ward sir, I bring, like I said, the greet­ings of the Pres­i­dency be­cause as the Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment, my re­spon­si­bil­ity is to co­or­di­nate the im­ple­men­ta­tion of gov­ern­ment poli­cies and to en­sure that these poli­cies are syn­er­gized in such a man­ner that we would be able to de­liver to the peo­ple of Nige­ria the good things of life which they rightly de­serve.

“In do­ing that, I will not be able to suc­ceed in that task if I do not get the co­op­er­a­tion of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and that is why I am here today to ex­tend the hand of friend­ship and to so­licit for the co­op­er­a­tion of the Na­tional As­sem­bly be­cause our con­sti­tu­tion is very ex­plicit when it comes to the prin­ci­ple of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. The role of the Na­tional As­sem­bly is quite dis­tinct. You (Na­tional As­sem­bly) leg­is­late for the good gover­nance of the fed­er­a­tion; you pro­vide over­sight and you also en­sure that funds that are ap­pro­pri­ated are used ju­di­ciously for the pur­poses they are meant and for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple of Nige­ria. So your re­spon­si­bil­ity is so enor­mous in this enterprise. I will say this and I will say it quite frankly sir, we are not in com­pe­ti­tion with the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“We are not ri­vals with the Na­tional As­sem­bly. We are joint part­ners in this enterprise. If the Na­tional As­sem­bly does not co­op­er­ate with the Pres­i­dency, I am not very sure we will be able to achieve the de­sired re­sult that we want to see given the man­date that we have freely re­ceived from the peo­ple of Nige­ria. So, this is ba­si­cally to come and as­sure you that in ev­ery area that you are so­lic­it­ing for the co­op­er­a­tion of the Pres­i­dency, be­ing the Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment, I would en­sure that the Na­tional As­sem­bly re­ceives that co­op­er­a­tion be­cause jointly if we work to­gether, what­ever has been lost in the past we can quickly redeem and re­cover and make progress so that by the time the first four-year man­date that we re­ceived comes to an end we can show on our score­card that these were the prom­ises we made. Mr. Pres­i­dent is pas­sion­ate about the three-pronged ap­proach that he has brought to gov­ern­ment.

“One, to fight for the se­cu­rity of the coun­try and de­feat in­sur­gency in ev­ery part of this coun­try. Two, to di­ver­sify the econ­omy and thirdly, to fight cor­rup­tion and en­sure, in his very com­mon par­lance, if we do not kill cor­rup­tion, cor­rup­tion will kill Nige­ria... So, it is on these three-pronged ap­proach that he has said that I can tell you that none of these three-pronged ap­proach can be achieved if we do not re­ceive the sup­port of the Na­tional As­sem­bly par­tic­u­larly now the Se­nate. We can’t di­ver­sify the econ­omy be­cause that would mean that Bills will have to come to the Na­tional As­sem­bly which will be de­bated and even­tu­ally re­turned to him for as­sent. We can’t fight cor­rup­tion if we do not have an in­sti­tu­tional frame­work which is strength­ened in ev­ery ram­i­fi­ca­tion to en­sure that cor­rup­tion is dealt with be­cause it is a big men­ace that has con­sti­tuted a source of em­bar­rass­ment to the peo­ple of this coun­try and we can’t fight in­sur­gency un­less we put ap­pa­ra­tuses on ground that in all ram­i­fi­ca­tion re­quires the sup­port of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and for that rea­son sir, we will con­tinue to so­licit for your sup­port. We will con­tinue to knock on your door and I be­lieve that with your able lead­er­ship, you will be able to con­vince your col­leagues that at ev­ery given time, when­ever we re­quire to see your hand in­ter­ven­ing in cer­tain ar­eas that will as­sist the gov­ern­ment move for­ward we will re­ceive that.”

On his own part, an elated Se­nate Pres­i­dent was not only brotherly in his com­ments, but pledged to a smoother work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two arms of gov­ern­ment. Saraki who is ac­com­pa­nied by the Se­nate Leader, Ahmed Lawan with other prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers of the up­per house said, “I think your visit is very sym­bolic. It is truly a new phase of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and the leg­is­la­ture and a good omen for our democ­racy and for our gov­ern­ment.

“I got the no­tice rather short but it was im­por­tant that we meet. Your visit truly

Tshow your in­ten­tion of en­sur­ing that you use your pe­riod as SGF to en­sure that we truly work to­gether to make Nige­ria great. You are very right and I think peo­ple like us are not sur­prised be­cause we know your an­tecedents.

“You know that in the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem that we are run­ning in this democ­racy, it is not pos­si­ble for us to be able to achieve all our goals if the ex­ec­u­tive and leg­is­la­ture do not have - not just an okay re­la­tion­ship - a fan­tas­tic and very close re­la­tion­ship. And what you have done this af­ter­noon has re­ally brought that closer and I am sure that all my col­leagues are go­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate that on the floor to­mor­row when I com­mu­ni­cate this to them.

“Truly, you have started on a very good note and I con­grat­u­late you. Thank you for all your kind words when you talked about some of the work we have done in the past to­gether in bring­ing the gov­ern­ment to­gether and we will con­tinue to work to­gether to en­sure that we de­liver on our prom­ises.

“As you said, the con­sti­tu­tion is very clear on what our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are. You did not write it and I did not write it, nei­ther did any of us in the Na­tional As­sem­bly today but we have all sworn to it and we must con­tinue to en­sure that we work with it and we work for the in­ter­est of Nige­ria. Let me as­sure you that be­ing the first SGF that we have re­ceived here, you will def­i­nitely get our co­op­er­a­tion and this will def­i­nitely be a new page and we will do all our best to en­sure that what­ever the is­sues are be­fore you, we will act to see how best we can to re­solve them and work to­gether. I thank you for com­ing”.

Noth­ing more to add, this is what the coun­try needs at the mo­ment. Ef­forts to bring the div­i­dends of democ­racy to Nige­ri­ans should be en­cour­aged. Af­ter ev­ery elec­tion, those elected should put aside par­ti­san pol­i­tics and join hands to move the coun­try for­ward and im­prove the wel­fare of the pop­u­lace. All hands should be put on deck to put food in our homes.


Mustapha i

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