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The Powers Of The National Assembly: Politics : Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum

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The Powers Of The National Assembly

By: dayan (M) |Time : July 10, 2016, 02:10:47 AM
The Powers Of The National Assembly
On July 10, 201612:58 am

By Obi Nwakanma

The much vaunted but inefficient fight against corruption has become the basis for which the executive branch under the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on the most extensive power grab in the history of civil rule in Nigeria. Well, Nigerians made the first mistake in 1999, when they did not back their legislators in checkmating President Obasanjo’s attempts to muscle the National Assembly. But let me proceed from where the “Orbit” ended last week by making the following observations. The greatest threat against democracy and the survival of the rule of law in Nigeria is an indolent and a badly informed citizenship. Most Nigerians have never bothered to read the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This includes, many Nigerians who are literate enough to absorb the letters of the constitution, and understand it.

But without informed citizens, who are prepared to engage the civic and constitutional process, the nation will continue to be politically underdeveloped, and may slip into tyranny. An informed citizenry could organize, petition, and constitute the basis for effective representation in the National and State Assemblies. They would be in a position to push the law, and compel their legislators to press their oversight powers effectively to check public corruption and other forms of misgovernance. But it is quite clear that many Nigerians take their rights of citizenship for granted. Nigerians have grown used to blaming “our leaders” rather than challenging “our representatives” and pushing them through engaged action to act in the public interest. Because “our leaders” are not afraid of us, because they think they are elected by God, and not by us to rule us, they act with impunity against the public interest. Let me here say this for the benefit of doubt: corruption is a terrible thing. Nigerians must help push for a system that will be self-accounting and transparent. But the so-called fight against corruption should never become the excuse for the executive branch to attempt an illegal power-grab.

Corruption is not only about individuals embezzling public funds.  Corruption includes the utter misuse of the constitution for political expediency. For instance, I think that President Buhari broke the law in authorising, without recourse to the National Assembly, the so-called “bail-out” for the states. He has no constitutional powers to authorise such a bailout. It is a corrupt misuse of presidential power in so far as the president did not procure the authority of the National Assembly as required by the constitution. The president also has no authority under the constitution to investigate a former administration. Such a power lies with the 8th Assembly, which is the only institution given the power to investigate a government, and if in their investigation they reveal criminal activity, they would make a referral to the Attorney-General for criminal investigation and prosecution. This is the rule of law.

The Attorney-General of the Federation is the Chief Law officer of the federation with enormous prosecutorial powers. In his position, he advises both the president and the National Assembly. He guards both executive privilege as well Legislative sanctity. That is the unique position he occupies. The Attorney-General ought to know that the issue of the violation of senate rules cannot be entertained in court, it can only be investigated by the senate ethics committee. The senators who took the matter before a court showed absolute lack of regard to their legislative mandate, and ought in fact to be sanctioned appropriately by the senate. The constitution grants the National Assembly incredible powers. By ignoring the provisions of the constitution we rupture the institutional order that protects us all.

The Attorney-General who oversteps his privileges must earn the reprimand of the president, if we must ensure the harmonious conduct of the three arms of government, and the principle of the separation of powers. For whereas the legislature cannot compel the executive to prosecute, it however falls within the proper conduct of legislative power to sanction any public officer who misuses his office or abuses powers granted such office by the constitution by impeachment. The National Assembly is granted the constitutional power of oversight, and in matters regarding expenditure and accountability, inquisitorial power. Here is what the constitution of the Nigeria says about the power of the National Assembly: “88. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into –

(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and

(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for –

(i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and

(ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

(2) The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to –

(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and

(b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

    (1) For the purposes of any investigation under section 88 of this Constitutional and subject to the provisions thereof, the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with section 62 of this Constitution shall have power to –

(a) procure all such evidence, written or oral, direct or circumstantial, as it may think necessary or desirable, and examine all persons as witnesses whose evidence may be material or relevant to the subject matter;

(b) require such evidence to be given on oath;

(c) summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions; and

(d) issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House or the committee in question, and order him to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his failure, refusal or neglect to obey the summons, and also to impose such fine as may be prescribed for any such failure, refused or neglect; and any fine so imposed shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by a court of law.

(2) A summons or warrant issued under this section may be served or executed by any member of the Nigeria Police Force or by any person authorised in that behalf by the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may require.”

The above is self-evident. Although executive power resides with the president, that power is not absolute. The president cannot play God. The president is subject to the constitution and to the laws made by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is the arm of government constitutionally empowered to oversee- that is supervise – president in the execution of the governance of the land, not the other way round. That is why the current attempt by the president to use the Attorney-General to subvert the leadership of the senate is not only a subversion of the constitution, but it amounts to an attempt at a civilian coup.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/07/powers-national-assembly/

Re: The Powers Of The National Assembly

By: y0ifcf (M) |Time : July 10, 2016, 05:03:07 AM
The Powers Of The National Assembly
On July 10, 201612:58 am

By Obi Nwakanma


The above is self-evident. Although executive power resides with the president, that power is not absolute. The president cannot play God. The president is subject to the constitution and to the laws made by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is the arm of government constitutionally empowered to oversee- that is supervise – president in the execution of the governance of the land, not the other way round. That is why the current attempt by the president to use the Attorney-General to subvert the leadership of the senate is not only a subversion of the constitution, but it amounts to an attempt at a civilian coup.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/07/powers-national-assembly/

This is why a former military leader is never good for a country like Nigeria. They are always tended towards disdain for the constitution.

Re: The Powers Of The National Assembly

By: dayan (M) |Time : July 13, 2016, 05:29:10 PM
The Powers Of The National Assembly


The above is self-evident. Although executive power resides with the president, that power is not absolute. The president cannot play God. The president is subject to the constitution and to the laws made by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is the arm of government constitutionally empowered to oversee- that is supervise – president in the execution of the governance of the land, not the other way round. That is why the current attempt by the president to use the Attorney-General to subvert the leadership of the senate is not only a subversion of the constitution, but it amounts to an attempt at a civilian coup.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/07/powers-national-assembly/


Well said

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