Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The executive and legislative shouldn’t be enemies

Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832), a British political philosopher cum jurist, claimed that actions of state and its officials are justified and right in so far as they tended to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It is in this context that it becomes imperative to interrogate the prevailing relationship between and among the various organs of government particularly, executive-legislative relations in a democratic Nigeria.

It is interesting however, to note that many political scientists and jurists alike believed that the need to divide and separate existing state powers and by extension, government functions, from a single or a body of authority dates back to the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Seeing how absolute powers can be used and abused by holders in many European societies as it was the case with King Louis XIV of France (1642 – 1715), the Sun King, who believed that his power as king was derived from God and that he was responsible only to God thereby taking the sun as his official emblem to show how radiant and powerful his authority was.

It was in realization of what absolute power can do to the society that precipitated Lord Acton, a British historian to remarked in his oft-quoted aphorism that, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Therefore, to excuse the society and save individual freedom and liberty from been trampled upon by tyrannical rule of monarchs, European thinkers like JohnLocke and Jean Jacque-Rousseau wrote opposing the concentration of absolute powers in the hands of a king or a body of persons. Coming home, our own Professor Chinua Achebe (of the blessed memory) in his last treatise, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra  (p. 246), remarked about his Igbo people’s distaste for king and absolutism.

The question then is: why this digression? The whole essence of this detour on the disdain for absolutism across climes is to drum home the justification for separation of power among the various organs of government in modern state system and the need for them to act as watchdogs in line with the principle of checks and balances in the governance process which serve as a guarantee for individual liberty, freedom, and quality leadership.

It is in this respect that we situate the legislative-executive relationship in the State of Osun since the outgoing incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola took over power from Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) through a court ruling, on November 28, 2010, and the House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dr. Najeem Folasayo Salaam, since June 21, 2011.

In Nigeria, the rancorous background that characterized legislative-executive relations dates back to the Second Republic when the troubled relationship between the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)-dominated House and the People Redemption Party (PRP) led-executive, led to eventual impeachment of former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa. As a result, many Nigerians are of the belief that a ‘normal’ legislative-executive power relationship is one that executive and lawmakers (or majority of them) especially its leadership, must not be on the same page on key government policy issues. The implication therefore is that, when there is a harmonious and understanding relationship between the two (even if is for the greater good of the state and its people), either for altruistic or parochial interest, the opposition elements will be quick to refer such Assembly as ‘rubber stamp’. The idea of rubber stamp assembly or parliament is the belief that the House as an institution, its leadership and members, have been successfully emasculated by the chief executive (i.e. the president and the governor as it is in our case) and turn it to its mere appendage.

While such belief may be true in some states in the country and circumstances, with all intents and purposes, the experience in the State of Osun is quite contrary.

  • Dr. Solomon Ayegba Usman Osun State.






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The executive and legislative shouldn’t be enemies