Democracy has inherent independent structures of governance. Though, the executive arm is the heaviest, but it depends largely on the remaining two arms- the legislature and the judiciary to effectively govern and deliver on its electoral mandate to the people.
Therefore, a genial and smooth relationship between the executive and the legislature are necessary lards in the task of governance. A frosty relationship between these two arms of government frustrates and retards the effective implementation of government policies, programmes and decisions.
The Eighth National Assembly (NASS) led by Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki in the first years of the Buhari Presidency was regrettably on a combative mode with the executive arm, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The cat and dog relationship festered and was exacerbated by the immediate past Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) Engr. David Lawal Babachir.
Babachir either lost grip of his briefs or undermined his focal role as chief co-ordinator of the implementation of government policies and programmes. So, he pulled the strings against himself and by implication, the Presidency with consistent altercations and near fisticuffs with the leadership of the NASS. He became unnecessarily haughty and defiant against reason. It deepened the animosity between the executive and the legislature.
Nevertheless, after his ouster from the office, his successor, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, a seasoned lawyer, management consultant and politician saw the glaring lacuna and the damage it has deposited on the polity. He sought to change the narrative positively.
Mustapha’s clear vision on this salvation mission as detected by his new assignment was impressive. His only preoccupation as the chief cabinet helmsman was to lay a template that would create a smooth synergy and conducive working atmosphere for the discharge of the official obligations of the two arms of government.
Immediately, upon assumption of office in October last year, one of Mustapha’s first actions was to pay a courtesy visit to Senate President, Sen. Saraki, and the leadership of the NASS to cultivate and consummate a new relationship.
In consoling words, Mustapha pleaded with NASS, “Whatever that has been lost in the past, we can quickly regain and recover and make progress so that by the time the four-year first mandate comes to an end, we can show on our profile.”
Mustapha’s words were like a soothing balm. His experience in decades of public service convinced him that President Buhari cannot succeed without the uninhibited co-operation of the NASS and its leadership. He knew unambiguously that for the Presidency to present a rich profile of achievements to Nigerians after the first four years, both the leadership of NASS and that of the ruling APC must function and operate on the same page.
He rightly believed that the Presidency is the head of government. But the actual unsung heroes of governance are the legislature and the leadership of the ruling APC, superintended by Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who must put Nigeria first at all times.
Boss Mustapha’s actions were very symbolic of his mindset. And flaunting a clear vision and understanding of his briefs, he never hesitated in deploying his experience and energy in assisting the APC–led government of President Buhari to record resounding and resonating successes in all sectors of the economy.
It is noteworthy that his prime concern is not with the elite or personalities that man these offices. But how each can be assisted and ennobled by his office to fulfill the sacred covenant President Buhari made to Nigerians by ensuring the executive and the legislature are in perfect consensus on national issues.
He pictured a progressive Nigeria only in the collective and harmonious official fraternity of the executive and the legislature. By his gospels, to get the results of moving Nigeria forward, the SGF has plotted to see and appreciate everyone as an indispensable stakeholder in this arduous task. So, he preached oneness and togetherness for the overall benefit of the nation.
The SGF acted and spoke from experience as a formidable party man and administrator per excellence. This simple gesture had immense impact on the leadership of the NASS, as Senate President Saraki could not conceal his excitement.
Basking in this euphoria of the novel step, Sen. Saraki assured from the bottom of his heart; “Let me assure you that being the first SGF that we have received here, definitely you’ll get our own cooperation and definitely there will be a new. Your visit is very symbolic. It’s bringing a new face of cooperation between the executive and the legislature, to our democracy and the government.”
The friendly encounter between Mustapha and the NASS leadership has been rewarding in many respects. Not only has the constant frictions, which had been the trademark of interfaces between the duo has dissipated for mutuality in official engagements, but a new dawn seems to have descended on a once fractured relationship.
In effect, Mustapha has nicely appealed to the conscience of NASS leadership that the bickering which trailed national budget scrutiny and the inherent delays should be excused for the greater public interest. This has been a thorny issue in the past.
As head of the federal cabinet, the SGF by his testimony has rendered himself prostrate and available to NASS. It therefore behooves on NASS leadership to reciprocate this gesture by utilizing the fresh aura of friendship. It is expected that NASS would use it to harmonize budget grey areas or hiccups with the SGF and stamp out delays to expeditiously dissect the 2018 Appropriation Act to ensure a timely passage to inject financial life into Nigeria’s year 2018 .
And he is vigorously and committedly pursuing this new agenda of collectively working to improve the face of progress and prosperity for Nigeria. Indeed, President Buhari, after meeting with NASS leadership also issued matching orders to ministers and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to defend their proposed 2018 budget estimates before the NASS.
The visionary SGF is poised to leave no stone unturned to ensure the full and total cooperation by members of the executive as directed by Mr. President.
Flowing from this angle, it is also instructive for the leadership of the ruling APC to discern and decode the preachments of the SGF, Boss Mustapha on the necessity of promotion of fraternal relations in government business at this critical time. His actions so far are a tacit appeal to leaders of the APC led by Chief Oyegun and the APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu to also mend fences with members of the National Assembly where necessary.
These venerated party leaders should perceive the love sermons from Mustapha’s pulpit as the needed olive branch to work together for the overall interest of Nigeria. They must advertise a remarkable difference from some regressive Nigerians or reactionary elements who are beclouded by sentiments to understand and interpret all previous executive interfaces with the NASS, distastefully as corruption fighting back. That era of allowing opposition elements to feast on controversies or sow seeds of discord is gone for good.
Henceforth and with Mustapha’s wealth of experience and determination to succeed, where others failed, the new approaches he has adopted would certainly make the difference. Nigerians are sure of having a better deal from both their elected and party leaders at the national level.
Agbese, writes from the United Kingdom.