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Are Lawan and the senators representing the people or working for the President?

“Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights, checks, and balances and freedom of speech.” Those were the words of former United States President Barack Obama when he visited South Africa in June 2018.

Now a quick question. Is the system of government practiced today in Nigeria a democracy? I’m not sure how you will answer that but let me zero in on the National Assembly – a symbol of democracy as it is called – and highlight some disturbing trends.

Some of us are now convinced that Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, is leading many lawmakers who are just “thirsty” to do the bidding of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shortly before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly in June, many had already branded Lawan a “rubber stamp” but I was one of those who felt the Senate President should be given a chance to prove himself.

In August, Lawan while speaking at a town hall meeting in Gashua, Yobe State, proudly said the National Assembly under him would not fail Buhari.
“There are pockets of opposition from other sides, I assure you all that we won’t fail the President,” Lawan had said.

Not minding those words, I still had hope because a true Nigerian patriot would not want the legislature to have an unnecessary confrontation with the executive arm of government, even though the lawmakers would be expected to stand their ground on certain issues. But I started getting worried when the Senate held its confirmation hearing for Buhari’s ministerial nominees. The country witnessed a charade that has now been dubbed as the “bow and goes” process.

Some of the senators who ought to have been grilling the nominees at the time were seen protecting them. It appeared that Lawan made sure that none of the nominees was disqualified. A “gender-sensitive” Senate President hardly even allowed the women among the nominees to speak.

When I finally gave up on this Senate President was when the finance bill sent by the executive seeking to increase the value-added tax from five percent to 7.5 percent passed second reading without the senators having details of it. Despite protests from some lawmakers, Lawan insisted that debate on the bill should hold.

Six months later, we have seen a Senate President who appears to only live for the next “order” of the President.

What has happened to the separation of powers and checks and balances that are the characteristics of democracy? It is heartbreaking to hear Lawan say that any request that Buhari sends to the National Assembly will make Nigeria a better place. How is that? Is the President infallible?

Are Lawan and the senators representing the people or working for the President?

Drop your thought in the comment section below.

Written by DYEPKAZAH SHIBAYAN

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