Segun Babatunde, Bauchi
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has called on the new Assembly Speakers in the country to spare no effort in checking executive excesses and hold it accountable.
Dogara stated this while presenting a paper at a one-day Technical Session for Speakers of State Houses of Assembly organised by PERL-ECP in collaboration with the Conference of Speakers held in Abuja yesterday, with the theme: Effective Leadership for Emerging Legislatures: Lessons, Challenges, Opportunities and Recommendation.
According to him, in order to put a stop to constant harassment of the legislature by the executive,the legislative arm of government must create the office of the Independent Counsel at both national and sub-national levels as obtained in the US.
“For those who doubt that we are in a monarchy not democracy, let me just point at one recent example. The Executive had raised Trillions of Naira by means of ways and means not only in the absence of express.
“Legislative authorization but in violation of the express provisions of Section 38 of the CBN Act of 2007 as amended, the Parliament was asked to approve the advances to the government which had risen from just about N789.6 billion in May, 2015, to N22.7 trillion in 2023. Section 38 of the CBN Act of 2007 above referred to powers of the Bank to grant temporary advances to the government.
“But sub-Section 2, it clearly circumscribes the amount that can be advanced to the government where the total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the federal government.
“The next subsection is also quite clear on the repayment of such advances, stating in express terms that they shall be repaid as soon as possible and shall, in any event, be repayable by the end of the Federal Government financial year in which they are granted and if such advances remain unpaid at the end of the year, the power of the Bank to grant such further advances in any subsequent years shall not be exercisable unless the outstanding advances have been repaid.
He said that “In the days when the powers of the legislature were in ascendancy, such a request from the Executive would be declared dead on arrival. The Parliament was in a quandary of monumental propositions because even if it had amended the CBN Act like it was subsequently done in one fell swoop, such a measure can not confer legality on violations of the the laws that have taken place before the amendment.
According to him, “Only a rogue legislature would give any legislative measure a retrospective effect. But to demonstrate that we are led by the whims of powerful individuals and not the law, this manifestly and patently illegal advances of a whooping N22.7trillion was passed by one of the Houses of the national parliament.”
“Thankfully, the other House didn’t even look at it. This is just one example, so many such cases are becoming routine in legislatures at all levels. Where there is effective leadership in a legislature that is alive to its responsibilities, the executive can not approach the legislature to put a legislative stamp on such brazen illegality”
“May you find the courage to take up your places as the guard rails of our democracy so that we can salvage our democracy that is said to be in recession at the moment. Always remember the saying that, “liberty is as rare as it is fragile. Wedged uneasily between tyranny and anarchy” he said