President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the injurious effects of internal wrangling within the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the constant Executive/Legislative faceoff on the fortunes of the party and the nation.
President Buhari spoke while inaugurating the Executive/Legislative/ Party Consultative Committee at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, on Monday.
The consultative committee is headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).
It would be recalled that the APC had lost Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Rivers and Oyo states in the last general elections due to internal squabbles in the party.
Noting that the APC, which is the ruling party, controls the two chambers of the National Assembly and the Presidency, President Buhari emphasised the need for both arms of the federal government to align themselves so that government could be able to deliver on the party’s campaign promises to Nigerians.
He, however, expressed faith in the capacity of the newly inaugurated committee to help the administration to deliver good governance, as well as sustain its achievements.
He charged the committee to regularly feel him in on its progress.
“Our party commands a clear majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Vice President, the Distinguished Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and I, all belong to APC and working relationships between the Executive and the Legislature has been excellent so far.
“Our joint responsibility is to keep things that way and see where we can improve our communication and coordination.
“But we must admit to ourselves that our party has been too often embroiled in bitter, and on occasions, totally unnecessary squabbles, costing us seats in the legislative and gubernatorial elections.
“This never should have happened; we are here to make sure such occurrences never happen again. We must now ensure regular consultations between the party and government.
“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.
“As one government, we must further align ourselves and be alive to our electoral promises. We need to nurture our party, which is the platform that will take us and our country forward.
“Your Excellences, Distinguished Senate President, Right Honourable Speaker, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am placing great faith in this consultative committee to help improve our governance and achievements to the people of Nigeria.
“I expect regular feedback on your activities and I am as always ready to lead and find solutions,” the President said.
“With these remarks, I formally inaugurate the consultative committee. Your success will directly enhance the success of this administration and greatly improve the conditions of our people,” he said.
Some members of the committee, led by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan; the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, spoke to State House Correspondents after the inauguration ceremony.
Other members of the committee at the briefing include the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase; Governor of Yobe State/Chairman, APC Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni; Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi and House Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa.
Others include: Attorney General/Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Gida Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim A. Gambari and Secretary, APC Caretaker Committee, Sen. Akpan Udoedehe.
Speaking at the briefing, the Senate President, Senator Lawan said the work of the committee could not compromise the independence of the Legislature, adding that it would rather improve the quality of governance and service delivery to Nigerians.
He also said the committee was to ensure there is consultation on all major issues that requires legislation and maybe policy to ensure the citizens are the beneficiary at the end of the day.
“Today is a historic day for us as an administration. The essence of this consultative forum is for governance to be enhanced.
“The legislature, the executive arm of government and of course the party in power, have seen the need to bring everybody on board so that we are able to consult widely before major issues are table before the citizens of this country.
“Specifically, what we intend to achieve is to improve the quality of governance and service delivery to Nigerians. We have promised Nigerians and Nigerians voted for the All Progressives Congress at all the levels, so it is incumbent upon us at all levels and as a party to ensure we meet the expectations and aspirations of Nigerians.
“Just like Mr. President expressed, we believe that the constitution rightly provides for the separation of powers and we believe in that. The legislature will always on its own ensure we oversight and we check possible excesses of the executive arm of government.
“But we also believe that separation of powers also means there should be cooperation, consultation, coordination and partnership for the benefits of the people of this country. This is not in any way to compromise the different functions that we are tasked and scheduled to discharge.
“The party is our platform, it has a sense, direction, manifesto, programmes and projects and we elected on both sides of government, executive and legislature will always ensure we stick to what the party provides for us to do.
“But I want to ensure that this is not in any way to compromise the legislature, if anything, it is to strengthen the legislature.
“And when it comes to the National Assembly, it is not an APC National Assembly, it has a representation of other political parties and we have so far enjoyed support and cooperation and partnership of our colleagues from other political parties, particularly the PDP and we commend them for that, we are grateful for that, we have done that for them before.
“And we expect that for this, the cooperation and the partnership in the National Assembly with different political parties will continue. Because, we are going to serve Nigerians with different political parties persuasion,” he said.
On recent constant collisions between the National Assembly and representatives of the Executive, Lawan said the National Assembly would no longer tolerate disrespect from presidential appointees.
“I believe that should be the end of it. We believe that we should work together. Mr. President made it very clear that he is not going to tolerate any of his appointees doing things that are not respectable, things that have no dignity to the National Assembly.
“For us in the National Assembly, I think what has happened has happen, we pray nobody goes to the National Assembly to do the kind of things that disrespect the President and of course abuse the National Assembly, we are not going to tolerate that.
“Anyone who wants to see Nigeria progress will continue to ensure that this consultative forum produces the kind of result and outcomes that will make Nigeria better, in terms of governance,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Governor Buni, said the committee came in very useful, saying it would help the party to deliver on its promises to Nigerians, adding that it is something that party had been anticipating.
He, however noted that with the birthing of the committee, the APC would be stricter in enforcing its rules, as certain attitudes and conducts would no longer be condoned
“As a party we are very happy with this development, this tripartite arrangement, it’s something that we have been looking for because the party is in control of both chambers senate and House of Reps in the National Assembly and the party under the leadership of his excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to deliver the dividend and work with our manifesto.
“We need an arrangement like this to synergise and work together to deliver on our promises, because when the two arms of government, the Executive and the Legislature are working together, alongside of the party, we are sure that our manifestos will work accordingly and our promises will be delivered, because our party is the vehicle that will be used to deliver both the Executive and Legislature because the President of the senate is an APC member and also the speaker, so we want the president and leader of the party and two presiding officers working together alongside the party, so this is a very positive development for APC in Nigeria .
“There is time for everything, going forward there are certain things we will not condone because we are not running a neutral government and we campaigned based on some manifesto and we will work on that and like I said there is time for everything and this is the time for this tripartite arrangement and it is in this best interest of Nigerians and the party,” he added.
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Gbajabiamila, said the leadership of the National Assembly would not allow politics affect governance, especially as the 2023 elections approach, noting that this is the mark of a good government.
“For us we have to be clear that moving forward as elections approaches, there is going to be concerted effort for every party to want to position itself. What this is about is that we don’t allow as we approach 2023 to affect government and that is what a responsible government would do.
“And how do you not allow 2023 to affect your policies? By bringing your men together, that’s what a responsible party will do and that is exactly what Mr. President has done today and it happens all over the world. I believe this is a move in a right direction and you are not exempted as journalists, you are part of constitutional democracy and the role you will play as well will determine a lot whether you will have a smooth sailing in 2023 or not. For me it is a welcome development.
“When you talk about what happens in the Senate or National Assembly, I don’t know what you mean by controversial. There will be issues, even when we leave today, issues will come up, if there is no such thing, you are not in a democracy, you are in an autocracy but we are in a democracy, things will come up but it is how you handle those issues and how you deal with them that will determine whether you are actually a government in power or not,” he said.