By Jude Opara, Abuja
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan yesterday reiterated his position that having a cordial working relationship with the executive arm of government does not mean that the National Assembly under him will be a rubber stamp because he fully knows his legislative roles as the leader of the legislative arm of government.
Lawan who spoke while welcoming his colleagues to the chamber after a two-week recess said; “it is now time for action” adding that they now have their job cut out for them because of the numerous challenges facing the country which he said he was well aware that all his colleagues were also at home with the realities on ground.
“I have in recent weeks had discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing the country and how we can leverage our position as lawmakers to help him deliver on his mandate. I will be doing more of that in the coming weeks and months. If we must build an economy that lifts majority of our people out of poverty, there is need for a serious collaboration between the executive and the legislature.
“I am not for any adversarial or acrimonious relationship. I intend to work closely with President Buhari in the interest of Nigeria without compromising the integrity of the National Assembly as an independent arm of government with oversight powers.
“As lawmakers, one of the powerful tools we have for our work is the power of oversight which is meant to enhance transparency and accountability. In exercising these powers, we will not only review, monitor and supervise projects being implemented by the executive, we will critically examine them vis-à-vis the cost and whether they align with our national aspirations. But we will do so with every sense of responsibility.
“I am conversant with the role of the legislature and the principle of separation of powers, both in theory and in practice. The system of checks and balances which we practice in Nigeria today was enshrined to safeguard the values of justice and the rule of law and deliver public good. Therefore, in a season when majority of Nigerians are more concerned with outcomes that reflect their concerns, the best way to serve that interest is through cooperation and collaboration.”
The Senate President also charged his colleagues to ensure that in discharging their duties that they should at all times and in all circumstances, be guided by how their action will positively impact the greater majority of the people.
He equally called for a harmonious working relationship among the members irrespective of their political parties, insisting that they should exchange views and engage each other with respect and constructively especially in the hallowed chambers.
“Each of us, as lawmakers, must also resolve that the exchange of views, especially within this hallowed chambers, will be constructive and that we will respect one another. Tolerance, which we cannot legislate upon in this chamber, is a virtue we must all strive to promote in a bid to reposition our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. On my part, I pledge to lead in a bipartisan and unifying manner.”