As Lawan says Buhari is infallible
LAST week, the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, paid a visit to Senate President Ahmad Lawan to lobby for the passage of a bill for the expeditious trial of corruption cases and the confirmation of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Senate President, while denying the presence of such a bill, was reported to have remarked thus: “I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation, and the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.”
The Senate President thus implied that any request from the president would be deemed pristine, wholesome and beneficial to the entire country, and thus not in need of critical scrutiny. To put it mildly, such a view is antithetical to the tenets of democracy. It is incredible that Senator Lawan is still sitting comfortably in an office which his beliefs obviously disavow. The office of the Senate President, as the head of the legislative arm of government, has a main duty to check the executive arm of government and prevent it from morphing surreptitiously into a monarchy or fascism. But if the head of the legislature becomes presumptuous enough to believe in the infallibility of the executive, then democracy is undermined.
It therefore becomes imperative to ask the Senate President the pertinent question of what he is doing in an office which he doesn’t believe in. The Senate President’s declaration that any request from President Buhari is one that will make Nigeria a better place only serves to fuel the suspicion in many quarters that he is poised to run a fawning and servile legislature. We recall with disappointment and indignation, how the bill on value added tax passed the second reading stage on the floor of the Senate without scrupulous scrutiny, and how the senators who complained that they were yet to receive copies of the bill were promptly shushed. If the framers of the constitution anticipated an infallible president, would they have created different arms of government with specific roles?
There is something ominous about a Senate President who thinks that the president is infallible, thus elevating him to the height of a god, and yet sits comfortably on top of a hefty budget, only to deliver an obsequious legislature to the people. This certainly has horrendous implications for the Nigerian democratic experience. Are Nigerians spending N150 billion on the National Assembly for such servitude to the president? Sadly, the case of the controversial Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board between the Senate and House of Representatives still rankles. Apparently, the president had defaulted in constituting the board appropriately, an error discovered rather lately, and both the Red and Green chambers were caught in the middle of a major imbroglio in which the next chairman of the NDDC board would be involved. So much for the infallible president.
The truth is that there is no such thing as an infallible president in a democracy. Human beings are bound to commit errors. And there are institutions created to make corrections and ensure that the society progresses in spite of the individual limitations in whatever offices occupied. This is the thinking behind democracy which recommends it for almost universal acceptance, albeit with variations. For the Senate President to aver that any request by the president is good for the country is the height of official obsequiousness. With the Senate being led by him and the House of Representatives under Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila who, upon being elected as the Speaker of the Green chamber referred to himself and his colleagues as “foot soldiers” to the president, Nigeria’s democracy is definitely haemorrhaging. The Senate President’s mindset is certainly not democracy-friendly and the earlier he changes, the better for the people.