By Ola Awoniyi
When Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 1984 with a B.Sc. degree in Geography, taking an active role in partisan politics was not on his mind. The young man did not consider himself cut for the “dirty game.” Rather, his focus was firmly on academics. And so for the next 10 years, he was in the Ivory Towers researching and imparting knowledge for the enlightenment and development of society. He was good enough at what he was doing such that in 1990, he was offered a scholarship by the European Union, one of a very few from the northern part of Nigeria at the time to be offered the privilege.
Lawan went to Cranfield University, United Kingdom and returned home in 1996 with Masters and Doctoral degrees in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System(GIS). He resumed his career in academics, until 1998 when he was persuaded to join politics.
New in the game, Lawan quckly realised that politics is different from academics. It is safe to say that his experience in his early days in politics in his home state of Yobe was far from pleasant. “It was a near disaster,” he once recalled. He found himself like a fish out of water such that his people at the grassroots had to teach him the ropes of practical politics. “Dr. this is not the academic environment. You are no more in the university. This is politics and it is not about blowing big big grammar,” he recalled once being told by a worried supporter. Since then he has learnt to flow with his people. They taught him to be part of them. And if ever elected into an office, to be a servant to the people.
Lawan has since mastered the art, which with the grace of God, has seen him come thus far. In six consecutive polls since 1999, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan has been the clear choice of his people to represent them at the National Assembly. And he has remained a part and the servant of his constituents. Today, he is also the Senate President.
However, he has also refused to compromise his principles. For Lawan, politics is not an art of deception. “I don’t believe politics is about deception. I prefer to call a spade a spade,” Lawan once said while addressing his constituents in his country home, Gashua in Yobe State. His fidelity to that principle has won and cost him a few friends. But it has also underpinned the trust of his constituents, helping him to become one of the longest serving federal lawmakers in Nigeria.
Those who have worked with him will readily attest that you cannot persuade Lawan to act contrary to his conviction. Some see this as rigidity. But if you say that to him, Lawan would take it as a compliment, in as much as he believes that he stands for the common good.
He once narrated the huge pressure he and his colleagues faced in 2006 to support the now orphaned Third Term Agenda. Then in the House of Representatives, Lawan was lobbied severally to lend his support to removing a pillar of democratic stability. But he bluntly refused even at the face of a threat to deny him a return ticket to the National Assembly. However, the same Lawan also played a significant role in calming down his colleagues in the House every time they angrily attempted to impeach President Obasanjo over what they perceived as impeachable offences by the then president.
More recently, as Senate President, he came under pressure from some very powerful stakeholders in the oil industry who were against the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act amendment Bill. Lawan rebuffed the pressure because he was convinced that the benefit of the amended bill is huge for the Nigerian economy. A similar pressure was mounted on him when the Ninth Assembly confronted the jinx of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). But Lawan again stood his ground and the two decades old jinx was broken.
Until 2015, Lawan had been an opposition lawmaker. His voice was always loud on virtually every topical issue. By the time his party took control of the National Assembly, Lawan was well positioned for the coveted seat of Senate President. But he missed it at first attempt. Not that he lost the election to the seat. He was schemed out of the race.
As a devout Muslim, he took those shenanigans of June 2015 in good faith. He believes everything works for good for those whose purposes are good.
Lawan is a loyal party man and always stand firmly with his party in and outside the parliament. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), consequently offered him the position of Senate Majority Leader. By the time he became the 14th Senate President in 2019, Lawan had acquired additional experience from that role to preside over the Upper Chamber and, as Chairman of the National Assembly, to pilot the affairs of the revered Institution.
From the onset, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to do and of the leadership strategy for maintaining unity and common purpose in the Senate and the National Assembly in general. He believes that a house of chaos, however elevated, is of no use to anyone.
This is why the defining trait of the Ninth Assembly under Lawan is the cordial working relationship with the other arms of government, more noticeably the Executive. But this has been achieved without compromising the independence of Parliament or the doctrine of Separation of Powers.
Understandably, people who prefer hostility to amity between the two elected arms of government do not like this. They have thus malligned him relentlessly and most unfairly derided the ninth Assembly as a rubber stamp.
You think that bothers Lawan? Instead, he considers himself lucky to be Senate President at a time a willing partner for cooperation heads the Executive arm of government.
The often ignored fact is that President Muhammadu Buhari even has ardently desires a healthy working relationship with Parliament. This is so that he can deliver his promises and fulfil his mandate to the Nigerian people. So both sides have chosen to address the unavoidable conflicts with cool heads and with their eyes set on the development goals of government.
Results commend the path that they have both chosen. In the immediate past Assembly, many executive bills were pronounced dead on arrival at the National Assembly. And many private member bills that passed were sent back to the sender.
President Buhari felt that situation was unhealthy and should not be allowed to repeat itself as the Nigerian people were the losers. Both leaders since June 2019 have been wholly committed through reciprocity to building a cordial working environment between their two co-dependent institutions for the smooth running of government and benefit of the nation.
Let’s recall a few fruits of this harmony. In October 2019, barely four months after the inauguration of the Ninth Assembly, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was at the National Assembly to meet with its leadership. Malami pleaded for a working relationship between the two arms of government that would enhance the passage of executive bills after due consideration by the lawmakers and presidential assent for private member bills. His move was to avert a repeat of the experience in the immediate past Assembly. Malami told the National Assembly leaders: “We cannot afford to expend resources, time and energy in formulating and drafting bills that will eventually not be passed or assented.”
Also in September 2020, President Buhari set up an Executive, Legislative, Party Consultative Forum headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to promote harmony in governance towards enhancing service delivery to the Nigerian people. “I am a firm believer in the doctrine of Separation of Powers which is fundamental to our constitutional democracy. But our practice should be harmonious checks and balances devoid of bitterness and petty rivalry,” Buhari told members of the tripartite panel.
The foregone show some of the steps the Executive took to promote mutual cooperation with the parliament. They were well-received by most lawmakers and Lawan who have chosen harmonious relationship over unnecessary confrontation with the Executive.
In the spirit of that relationship, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law on Christmas eve despite airing his reservations.
Also, the Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB) received Presidential assent despite reservations by the president on some of the provisions. Buhari signed the PIB into law and later proposed an amendment to the Act. The Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act amendment Bill was signed into law by the president in London where he was receiving medical treatment. That was very unusual. But that alacrity arose from a mutual understanding between the arms to preempt powerful stakeholders who were hell bent on scuttling the piece of legislation.
We cannot forget too how the President ordered the MDAs to promptly respect invitations by the National Assembly committees to defend their proposals, to ensure timely passage of budgets. But for this cooperation between the National Assembly and the Executive, the quest for a regular, predictable and reliable budget cycle would have remained a mirage.
The disposition of the Ninth Assembly under Lawan is to work for Nigeria rather than play to the gallery. You can be sure that this same spirit will smoothly resolve the disagreement over the Electoral Act amendment Bill in the best interest of Nigerians.
Lawan has contributed to facilitating a new atmosphere in inter-arms relationships out of a conviction gained from over two decades in parliament. That conviction is that public interest is best served when institutions work together without forsaking their purposes. The achievement of that atmosphere is a legacy befitting even a reluctant politician.
This reflection on his politics and leadership principles is a tribute to Lawan, the Sardaunan Bade, on the occasion of his 63rd birthday.
Awoniyi is Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President
Tinubu’s Cabinet Of Controversy
By Zainab Suleiman Okino
In all ramifications, it appears the euphoria and excitement that greeted President Bola Tinubu’s assumption of office are gradually ebbing away. Quite expectedly, having started with the tough decisions of fuel subsidy removal and floating of the forex, the President now needs to do more and urgently too.
Both policies have since worsened the woes of the Naira and Nigerians. From accusation of being surrounded by “Lagos boys”, (his cabinet as Lagos State Governor between 1999 to 2003), to policy somersaults to somehow nepotistic appointments (and vengeful dismissal of some CEOs), questions are being asked about Tinubu’s pro-people and pan-Nigerian credentials.
He started with politically correct appointments. The geographical spread of his service chiefs was received positively. His swift policy statements, though criticized, were timely, compared with the sordid silence of his predecessor.
The misnomer became apparent during ministerial nominations flip-flopping into high-wire politics that led to a ministerial nominee in person of former Governor Nasir El-Rufai being dropped at the last minute over a so-called security report after screening. We also witnessed how a nominee from Kano State, Maryam Shetty was refused screening by the senators after she was already seated at the National Assembly lobby, which showed clearly a scene from the playbook of Ganduje’s dirty politics under Tinubu’s government.
Two former governors were appointed to man the Ministry of Defence; former Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, was downgraded to serve as a junior minister under his colleague, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, former governor of Jigawa state. Looks so incongruous. Some MDAs were “reorganized”, and we expected a more compact arrangement. But what did we get? Some ministries were boosted and some downgraded. To which end, except to favour some ministers and appoint others to less juicy or relegated ministries, just to satisfy constitutional provision. Tokenism? Maybe.
The result was a boosted aviation sector renamed Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development under the supervision of an equally controversial figure, Festus Keyamo, while the Ministry of Transportation was debased and can safely be called ministry of railway, after the removal of everything maritime like NIMASA, NPA, Shippers’ Council etc now under the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
Indeed, inconsistency in pronouncements came too early in this administration. Tinubu made history when he reshuffled a cabinet that was yet to be inaugurated. Engineer Abubakar Momoh was redeployed from Ministry of Youth to Ministry of Niger Delta that the president hitherto ignored.
Imagine the embarrassment that followed the declaration by the UAE government, that they are yet to resolve and reverse their visa ban on Nigerians, after the President’s spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale went to town to announce same. Propaganda should have limits. Why the hurry? To impress who? The disinformation has since taken the shine off the president’s diplomatic engagement with his UAE counterpart. So, after the UAE denunciation, where exactly are we now?
Tinubu does not seem bothered about over-bloated personnel costs or reducing the cost of governance. For the first time, Nigeria now has almost 50 ministers under its low per capital income of 5,200 PPP dollars in 2021 compared to USA’s 25 ministers and per capita income of 70,480 PPP dollars as at 2021.
Consequently, Nigerians have resigned to fate that they may never have pro-people government in their lifetime, since most of the policy initiatives of the new government favour only the rich, the haves, high-end businesses and high class of people and interests. It is obvious that the president must have made many commitments to friends and associates, who in his own estimation must be fixed, regardless of an ailing economy like ours.
Still smarting from all these came the issue of lopsided appointments, which we thought we had seen the last of after Buhari. The protests over Tinubu’s skewed appointments started from “home”, when a group from the Southwest accused him of appointing only people from Lagos contrary to the notion that Yorubas had an edge in his government.
Last weekend, evidence of such slanted appointments went viral. Critics reeled out at least 20 consequential appointments from the Southwest including MDAs like Justice, Finance, Customs, Police, FIRS, Immigration, NIMC, CBN, Power, Digital Economy, COAS, Maritime, Interior and Communications in the president’s kitchen cabinet. Muslim groups like MURIC have also cried out complaining that Christians hold key economic positions. The cry of marginalization has always been part of governance and politics in our clime, and Tinubu is not in a hurry to end it.
In addition to his hard-to-swallow economic direction, Tinubu’s choice of appointees is somehow causing concerns among the elite too. Without a semblance of inclusion and symbolism, the people feel let down by a president they thought was going to be pan-Nigerian, gradually becoming provincial, in deeds, even though appointments only enrich the beneficiaries while the conditions of ordinary people remain unchanged.
I believe competence and capacity should be uppermost in considering people for appointments, but I also know that all regions or ethnic groups harbour such competent people among them. Going forward, the president should be more circumspect, and look elsewhere instead of his “household” in a delicate balancing act that Nigeria needs, and which will surely give him (Tinubu) more support and goodwill. No matter how inconsequential he thinks these issues are, they have already got tongues wagging. As a minority myself, I can’t help but notice this potentially damaging and divisive subject in our polity.
Already an internal revolt is brewing in APC over Tinubu’s style of leadership and appointments. In what a group called “yorubanization of the current APC government”, the “APC members in Coalition for a United Nigeria (CUN)”, said “86% of the critical appointments made so far have been people from your (Tinubu) geopolitical zone, the Southwest.
Moreso, to our greater bewilderment is the fact that 90% of these people are your “Lagos boys”, imploring the president to “drastically balance this prejudice by giving attention to other regions outside the Southwest”. If members of the party are disappointed in their government, what do you expect from the rest of the country?
Okino, is the chairperson of Blueprint Editorial Board, a fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE), her syndicated column appears on News Point Nigeria newspaper on Thursdays. She can be reached via: email@example.com.
Essentials of institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as panacea for good governance
Why would I think I can PROFFER A CURE FOR the ailing systems in the governance of our great nation? At least a good man can try, I have for over period of time now perused the thought —consistently- of the possibility of good governance, at least good governance, not great or excellent governance- even though that is easily achievable using the same principles for good governance- but at least we would do well to appreciate good governance in our good homeland of Nigeria, before I go on ranting about my thoughts, my people let me be quick to return to the subject of our discuss; “the essentials of institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as a panacea for good governance”.
Let take a deep breadth as we explore this topic, the irony of the truth is that The Panacea for good government is good governance, there is no hard and fast route about it, here we have a few of its components in institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability, Good governance is like the proverbial good deed you give it and it comes right back at you, what is governance? Governance is simply the manner or style of government practiced in a particular location; in this case (our case) it is democratic government, which is a government of the people for the people by the people so good governance would be a complete cycle of the being a government elected by the people and then the delivery of the goods of its governance for the people (who duly elected the ones in governance), which would have to take us back to an even more important question for good governance to be anticipated, are the people in government democratically elected?
This question alone helps us to see that institutional effectiveness is first of all key in attaining good governance, as the question poised above is in reference to institution the Electoral Body, in our case INEC.
So what are the essentials of effectiveness for institutions to live up to expectation?
- Key and Competent Personnel: – not just getting the competent people but getting the right people for the right places.
- Policy Guided operations according to the institutions’ founding principles.
- Ethical interpretation of Law and legal processes
- Ethical Operations, Management and of all activities
- Optimization of standards with International acceptable modus operandi
In addition to the above with the afore mentioned virtues of Accountability and transparency, good governance is left from aspirations to affirmative reality; Accountability is the act of being held responsible for your actions this helps to hold good governance players responsible for their actions in tandem with institutions, which is why the first factor is very important, and finally being transparent, being frank, firm and open, saying exactly what one means and meaning what one says, this when institutions and people in them say what they mean and mean what they say, not with hidden motives or agenda.
When all the factors described above are bundled to form a complete system of governance; good governance is sure to thrive.
Finally in addition to all these my personal opinion rests upon the afore discussed as already known factors and processes needed for good governance, especially by the Nigerian institutions and people in governance, as we have notable institutions, what i think is that the Nigerian institutions and people in governance should ‘Take Action’ in doing the right thing!
All Nigerian institutions, people in government have knowledge of all this factors, or at least moral inclination to do the right thing, but what we lack is the actual DOING, and if we as Nigerians, can cultivate the habit of DOING; then all our ideas, ideologies institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as well as every other factors that contribute to good governance would then become a conscious cultural norm of the Nigerian people which will necessitate the birth and practice of good governance in our nation.
SO, DEAR FELLOW NIGERIANS’ LETS DO THE RIGHT THING, LETS TAKE ACTION!
-2019 Presidential Candidate
- Former National Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC)
-National Secretary CUPP
Tinubu cannot remove a CBN governor without 2/3rd senate majority
By Frank Tietie
The recently announced removal of the embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefele and the Deputy Governors of the Bank by the fiat of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not in compliance with the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007. Therefore, it is illegal!
Whereas Section 11 of the CBN Act provides for several grounds for the removal of the CBN Governor or Deputy Governors, whenever such removal is based on the decision of the President, as in this reported case of Emiefele and his deputies, it can only have effect where the President has first sought and obtained the approval of a two-thirds Senate majority.
Clearly, there is no evidence that the President indeed sought and obtained the required two-thirds majority of the Nigerian Senate before announcing the formal removal of Governor Emiefele with his deputies and the appointment of a new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Consequently, the president is in error, and all his recent actions in removal and appointment of a Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria can be set aside by the courts.
According to the Court Appeal in the case of Olotu v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria & ors, it held that:
…It is a trite point of law that when a statute dictates a certain mode of doing something, then that method and no other must be employed in the performance of that act. Put differently, where a legislation lays down a procedure for a thing, there should be no other method of doing it
Nigeria operates a Presidential-Federalist system of government with a high concentration of political and executive powers in the person of the President. Therefore, this infraction of the CBN Act by the President on the removal of the CBN Governor may pass without any censure of the National Assembly or review by the Judiciary. But it is such disregard for plain provisions of the law by the President who is supposed to set the example of legal compliance, that creates the usual incipient negative impact on constitutional democracy which rests on the rule of law.
Therefore whenever an administration starts glossing over express provisions of the law that serve to guarantee order, peace, good governance and economic prosperity of Nigeria, the culture of disregard for court order and widespread violation of human rights begins to cascade down the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government together with all the other strata of government across the states and local governments. This has been the bane of Nigeria’s stable development in all spheres and the recipe for corrupt abuse of political power and violation of human rights. That’s why military junta often truncated national democracies. May that be far from us!
The Nigerian state spends huge financial and human resources to maintain its democratic structures. Therefore, the National Assembly and its leadership must stand up at all times to live up to their responsibilities in upholding the principles of democracy and separation of powers to avoid tyrannical acts of the executive by requiring strict compliance to every law that mandates its approval on such matters the President is required to apply for.
Therefore, when the National Assembly indeed discharges its roles in the political equation of checks and balances with the President and the Judiciary, there will be less of interventions by self styled but well-meaning activists and civil society organisations who are often referred to as busybodies but are determined to seek judicial review of executive actions to ensure the rule of law and a stable Nigerian society.
Lawyer, Social Commentator & Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), writes from Abuja, Nigria
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