Prominent Abia Politician, Ogbonna, Calls On NASS To Prove Independence

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A prominent politician in Abia State, Barrister Sam Ogbonna, has called on the 10th National Assembly to use the opportunity of electing its principal officers to prove to Nigerians that the Legislature is an independent arm of government and can be trusted.

It should be recalled that the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has produced the President-elect had, in a statement released to journalists, zoned the offices of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker to certain geo-political zones in the country.

In a statement, Ogbonna, who has been into politics since 1983, wonders if the autonomy of the three arms of government has been jettisoned.

His statement reads:

“The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday, published the names of the Senate and House of Representatives first four to the chagrin of many and bliss of some.

“From the elementary government we all learnt in the secondary school,we were informed that government has three arms to wit: the Executive that handles administrative functions including the execution and implementation of policies and programs of government; the Legislature that enacts/ makes laws for the people and thirdly,the Judiciary which is the last hope of the common person that is saddled with the onerous task of interpreting the law. Each arm of government is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)where they derived their powers particularly, Chapters 5 for the Legislature,6 for the Executive and 7 for the Judicature, except if APC and the President-Elect are saying that the Constitution of the Party is supreme to the Constitution of Nigeria . We equally learnt that each of the three arms in a democratic setting is independent.

“The pertinent question to ask at this juncture that the Party is meddling into the prerogative of electing the leadership of both arms of the National Assembly by the Members of both Chambers is whether the autonomy of the three arms of government has been jettisoned?

“I feel disgusted when some persons even the elites out of malice applaud an aberration. Can the Legislature appoint a Minister or Federal Board Member for the approval of the Executive or Judiciary? Can the Legislature appoint a Judge and ask the National Judicial Council (NJC)that is constitutionally empowered and bestowed with the appointment of Judicial Officers to deploy?Is the supremacy of the Party up to the extent of deciding for the highest law-making body of our dear country who would lead them? Please, I need answers, to the afore- asked questions and with utmost respect to the readers of this submission/ piece.

“Even at the local government level where we have Councillors that enact/ make bye – laws for the people at the grassroot do so independently. Even if the Council Chairman is interested in a particular Councilor to emerge as the Leader of the legislative arm,he would do so clandestinely and lobby seriously, though,not binding on the Councillors. I am speaking from personal experience.

“It is not only embarrassing,but a slap on the faces of men and women of proven integrity that the Party which is just a wheel that conveyed everyone to his or her destination will now decide what the person would do on arrival. The senators ran their elections and won and set for the legislative job which is their primary assignment. Is it not proper to allow them choose their leadership based on their assessment of such persons anchored on experience, charisma, accessibility, versatility, pedigree among other attributes? Can the legislative arm substitute a name forwarded to her for approval by the Executive? Is the composition of Senate only Members of APC? Why on earth would this stance of the Party be a serious issue where there are other political Parties that make up the Senate? Thank God it is no longer APC and PDP as it used to be.

“The current scenario that is playing out in choosing who becomes the next President of Nigeria Senate is a litmus test for the Senators. Most people have either rightly or wrongly accused the Senate for being subservient to the Executive,but I don’t want to believe that people of tested and proven integrity in the red chamber could be seen as rubber stamps. The time to prove to Nigerians that the Legislature is independent is now that this political brouhaha has reached its crescendo.

“The Senators at this juncture ought to prove to Nigerians that they are independent by independently choosing their leadership. If I may pause at this juncture to ask,are the Offices of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President the only positions in the Senate? Why is the Party particularly about deciding for the Senators who leads them?

“With due respect to our most Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,the time to prove to Nigerians that you are truly independent is now and the onerous task and responsibility of choosing the leadership of the Senate rest squarely on you if your integrity must be sacrosanct and respected. The time to debunk the perceived erroneous impression about the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly is now. Leadership of the Senate cannot be sacrificed to reward who got the highest vote during election.”

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