”I am Not an Executive rubber- Stamp Senate President” – Lawan

By  Suleiman Umaru

Ahmed Lawan, an indigene of Borno state and the Senate President , which is the  third  most powerful position in the hierarchy of  Authority  in the government has every reason to be unhappy. This is because  of the circumstances that brought him to power forcing Nigerians and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Senators to have described him as an ”Executive Rubber -Stamp”.

 Note that President Muhammadu Buhari and Adam Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of All Progressive Congress, APC, had mobilised  the Presidency  and the former  ministers  including the party National Working Committee, NWC, to work on the party Senators to ensure that  they  vote enmasse  for the selected Candidates  to clinch the various leadership positions of the Senate without conceding any  Opposition to the PDP.

Lai Mohammed, the Kwarra state  born  former minister of Information and Culture , was said to be a link person between the Presidency and the Lawmakers. The former minister was said to have put a close tab on the Red Chamber LAPC legislators to ensure   that the deal  reached on the eve of the election to elect the Senate  leadership  was kept. The Presidency and the party leadership  had penciled down   Lawan to be the Senate President and Omo -Agege, from Delta state, south-south geo-political region  to be the Deputy Senate President. Omo-Agege had worked for the executive  in the 8th Senate to  form a strong opposition against  Bukola Saraki, then Senate President.

Danjuma Goje: Forced To Step Down For Lawan By APC, NWC

The party  NWC  at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian President  had forced Danjuma Goje, a former  governor of Gombe , north east geo-political region to step down for Lawan to ensure that there would not be division of  the party votes on the floor of the Senate to give the PDP room  to spring a surprise by clinching one of the positions.

Prior to the party NWC, discussion with Goje, the President had earlier held a closed door meeting with him at the Presidential Villa where they talked over matter . The President was said to have prevailed on him to drop his ambition and throw his weight behind Senator Lawn to emerge as the Senate President, assuring him of fair treatment in the red Chamber. He has no option but to back out and started Canvassing for votes for Lawan.

Recall  that in 2015,  Buhari, had  Lawan , in mind to be the Senate President  but was outsmarted by Saraki,a former governor of Kwarra state, north Central Nigeria, who mobilised the PDP  Senators  and his APC ,Colleagues, who were opposed to the President’s plan to impose the leadership  of the Senate  on them,  to quickly organise an election through the backdoor where he was elected as the Senate President  and Ike Ekweremadu, an elected PDP Senator from Enugu state  as the Deputy Senate President in the 8th Senate .

An angry Buhari had seen it as a Coup against the party as the  two arms of government for most of  the last four year had a frosty working  relationship with the Senate shutting down most of the Executive bills of the President. The Chamber was also said to have refused approve   some political appointees of  the President. The name that readily comes to mind was  Ibrahim Magu, a Commissioner of Police and acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC. As  many times the President submitted his name to the red Chamber for Consideration, it was turned down. But the President may have  proved to Saraki,  that the bulk  stops on his table as he retained  Magu as acting Chairman of the Commission.

Political watchers believe that the emergence of  Lawan  as the President  of the  9th  Senate, he would  forward his name aagins  to the  Senate  for Confirmation  as a substantive Chairman of the Commission. He may have his reason for doing so.  This is because the APC , Senators who are  in the majority would not hesitate in  giving the approval.

The President  may have tested the waters  by forwarding  on Thursday, July 11, 2019 the name  of Justice  Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad ,  acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, to  the Senate for Confirmation as a substantive CJN on the recommendation of the National Judicial Service Commission ,NJC. That much was confirmed  by Justice Soji Oye, the Commission Director of  Information  in a Statement on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

 The NJC, Spokes Person said the Commission took the decision  to recommend  Mohammad for appointment as the country ‘s substantive CJN , on Wednesday at a meeting presided over  by  Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a former President of  the Court of Appeal.

 The President was said to have used  the opportunity  to ask the Senators  to give him the  go ahead  to appont  15 Special Advisers.  Lawn, may have given people room to believe that  he is an Executive rubber- stamp  by quickly  reading   the President’s letters  at a plenary  session on Thursday.

 Political watchers believe that the President has no reason  to worry about the approval of his requests by  the Lawan led Senate .  They noted that  the requests  are as good as having been approved since the ruling APC  have the majority in the Senate. Already, the Senate President has made it clear to those that cares to listen that he believes in  ”Buhari’s vision” and the philosophy of the APC.  Recall that he did not hesitate in telling  his Colleagues during his Campaigns to become the Senate President  that  he is ”close  to the President and believe in his cause  but would never be a rubber -stamp.

Talking tough when a group of  women Parliamentarians led by Senator Joy  Emordi, from Anambra state,  visited him in his office recently,  he would want  Nigerians  to erase from their mind  that he will be a ”yes man”, insisting that  ”our problems  as Nigerians  are Nigerian problems” which would require  a ”Nigerian solution”.

It is therefore  not very surprising why he had said that   the Executive and the Legislative arm of government  must have to ”work together”.  According to him, the” Lawmakers are there  for the  executive  to move this country forward”.  He may have seen  that Nigerians still see him as an executive rubber-stamp going by such a response to questions to questions posed to him  about his closeness to the President and how he would go about  his duties  without being influenced  that he had volunteered that  the Lawmakers would Challenge  the executive  in a manner  that is” decent and decisive” .  He may have alluded to  the Saraki  led 8th Senate , whose challenge of the  Buhari led executive arm of government was confrontational.  

He  had made it clear that the era of Confrontation between the executive and the legislature is over. Lawan , who could not hide his feelings to the  women Parliamentarians had  assured that  his major  concern is to ”build  a relationship  that  has mutual respect , for each arm of government”  in  order to enhance  their Collaboration and Partnership ” to ensure good governance. He admitted that ”it is not going to be  easy”.

He may have sent a message  to those wishing to be appointed as  ministers that  it is not going to be business as usual. ”As a minister , you have to your ministerial job well”, he said.  Unlike what obtained in Buhari’s first term  in office where political appointees  behaved anyhow,  he  promised ” we  will make government appointees  to do what is  required of them ” in the next four years.

Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President, may have spoken the mind of the Senate President  when he said  they would” do everything within their power  to help  the President  to deliver  on his next level  agenda  to Nigerians  in the next four years”.  he may have spoken with Authority as the President had said that those who would make the ministerial list  were those known to him personally  and who believe in his agenda of moving the country to the next level.

 There are fears in political circles  that with the emergence  of Lawan and Omo-Agege, who  were   regarded  as Buhari’s loyalists, as both Senate President and Deputy Senate President,  major policy decisions about the running of the  country  that requires  the Senate  approval, may be taken in the Presidential Villa, for the  Senators  to approve without  hesitation.  ” This is what Buhari has turned Nigeria into : his” personal estate”,  an aggrieved Nigeria remarked.

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