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Nigerian president, congress and the citizens

By Okunrinboye Olu
24 January 2018   |   1:46 am
The President of Nigeria occupies a unique position and the highest office in the nation. He is the number one citizen widely elected by the electorate to act in that capacity for four-year tenure as reiterated in the national constitution.

President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO ;DON EMMERT / AFP

The President of Nigeria occupies a unique position and the highest office in the nation. He is the number one citizen widely elected by the electorate to act in that capacity for four-year tenure as reiterated in the national constitution. As such, the president is expected to operate as an unbiased national leader while displaying the innate ability to think and act rationally for the good of the nation. The non-negotiable forthrightness, amiable personality and overwhelming clout must be complemented with the ability to proffer reasonable solutions to our national challenges. Hence, the president must be a prolific and pragmatic problem-solver who will not give in to unnecessary and unwarranted sentiments in pursuit of his legitimate duties.

The rule of law is specific, in all situations and instances, to ensure that reasonability, decency and legality in operations and all aspects of national life is pursued. Therefore, to provide required checks and balances to the extremity of power display of the president that may affect the citizens negatively, the Congress and the judiciary are given legal roles to play. Such stabilising legal roles require decisiveness of action and non-partisanship in politics to come off the narrow curve that can derail the nation into social abyss and ultimate calamity.

The Senate has the power to move motions and make all laws that regulate the lives of citizens and advance the nation towards the development continuum. Therefore it can reject or approve bills according to their desires without sentiments and sanctions. It can also approve or reject president’s nominees for Supreme Court, cabinet members and other important national posts required to support the government’s agendas; including various nominees for top hierarchies of the Nigerian police, armed forces and the smooth passage of national budgets.

In America, the Senate is called “the World” Greatest Deliberative Body and the Most Exclusive Club.” It is also called “the only place in the country where somebody stands up to speak while nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees.” Every American senator has been construed with the mindset to believe that when a senator walks to take the floor, he should know that he must give the little children on the street a “great hope” to live because “every citizen has great hope and goals. Such goals include serving other people beyond your actual self.” This is an obligation of a leader to the entire citizens, their communities and the country as a whole.

Fortunately, the present Nigerian government has displayed a good working relationship among the leaders. There has been collective supportive relationship between the President and the Senate all along. Both political institutions are well versed in legislative procedures and thoroughly balanced in relative experience of good governance. They have settled ensuing political differences amicably between them without reverting to the Supreme Court for laborious arbitrations. It is also gratifying to note that the Nigerian Congress and the president have mutually understood that contemporary politics depends on sound personality, positive self-image and developmental techniques.

In a complex nation like Nigeria, people often agree or disagree on many public issues. Many of these contending public issues are resolved at the high level; between the Senate and the president. It was usual when the former U.S. president, Jack Kennedy, needed a vote to pass his bill through the Congress, he would summon his closest friend to the “Oval Office” and explain precisely why the bill was so important to him and how much he needed the Senator’s support. This political favour was not binding on the Senator friend because the latter also needed to recourse to his constituency for support before casting such required vote or support the bill. It is important that every Senator must use his/her legal power to seek the optimum benefit for his constituency and not for personal or selfish ends.

Also, the political companionship acquired in the Senate must be reasonable and towards meaningful ends. As Lyndon Johnson said, the Senate president must “prove himself to be exhuming talent beyond the embodiment of talents and must always do something new and remarkable by displaying the power of the first among all equals”. From the above analysis, the Congress has the obligation to follow its purposeful agenda from the first day it resumes business. It should always remember that the national constitution confers power on the members of Senate and such powers must be properly deployed for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Nigerian citizens have the obligation to get involved in understanding and appreciating the legal work of the Congress. This is because it is a national body whose activities affect their lives and survival. In other words, the Congress, on one hand, and entire Nigerian citizens, on the other hand, are political partners in progress with bright ideas that can be consummated to moving the country forward. In Nigeria of today, there are cries for national restructuring and a clear departure from the old political order and leadership pursuits.

The citizens must not wait until various national affairs have obviously gone too awry and unmitigated before making their voices heard and votes count. They should vociferously raise their voices to complain and point the Congress towards the right direction while noting that their mandate matter to them and that erring representatives in the Congress should start work the very day they resume in the Congress. What matters is the ability to harness political opportunities for the nation and perform exceedingly well when the baton of leadership turns to favor some people by ensuring that political serenity reign supreme in the nation.

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