The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday, urged Nigerians to be patient with any law of the land they have misgivings about.
He asked that such aggrieved Nigerians should “engage the process in line with democratic practices.”
Buhari made his position known in his remarks at the opening of the two-day joint executive-legislative leadership retreat with the theme “Promoting effective executive-legislative partnership, finding a middle ground” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President’s message came at a time there is growing criticism of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 which he recently signed into law.
Stakeholders, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, are faulting some provisions of the law at a time there is also opposition to the National Water Resources Bill currently before the National Assembly.
But Buhari said the process of law-making and governance were dynamic and evolving.
He said, “Let me also remind our common patriots, gentlemen and women, that the process of law making and governance are dynamic and ever evolving.
“I will seek their indulgence to be patient with any legislation or law which they have certain misgivings about and engage the process in line with democratic practices.
“Our interest is sincere promotion of our collective will and aspiration to build a nation where justice, peace, and progress are the norm.”
The President urged members of the National Assembly to continue to ensure cordial relationship with the executive arm of government in order to further enhance governance for the benefit of all.
He described the retreat as an avenue for both lawmakers and members of the executive to reflect on their roles and engage one another as one government.
“This retreat provides us another opportunity to interface, reflect, brainstorm and engage as one government.
“I use the word ‘one government’ because there can only be one government in a nation at a time and officials, both elected or appointed in the executive or legislative arms, must all be working for the peace, unity and development of our country,” he said.
Buhari noted that experiences of the last 20 years of steady democratic practice in Nigeria have underlined the need for effective partnership and collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government to deliver government’s mandate.
He said the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution was designed to enable all arms of government to work together in cooperative and collaborative manner, through executive and legislative engagements.
Buhari thanked the leadership and members of the 9th National Assembly for what he called the cordial and warm relationship they have enjoyed in the last one year, saying Nigerians have started reaping the benefits of such cooperation.
He said the collaboration had made it easier for the government to set and realise development goals, and respond to changes in the economy faster like the Coronavirus pandemic that necessitated review of the 2020 budget.
He added, “By virtue of our effective partnership and your support, this government has initiated critical reforms targeted at reforming and strengthening our economy, increasing efficiency in governance, consolidating on the repairs carried out in the last four years and putting the country on a steady path of growth and development.
“The accelerated passage of the 2020 Budget and its review in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the timely passage of my nominees and passage of critical legislations by the National Assembly are all testaments to your willingness and commitment to playing your part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians.”
Buhari, however, stressed the need for the cordial relationship to be sustained.
This, he said, could be achieved through dialogue and consultation.
“There is a compelling need to sustain and strengthen on this partnership by creating platforms for regular dialogue, consultations and interactions between the executive and the legislature, to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.
“This approach will enhance coordination within government and strengthen our capacity to effectively address the challenges of governance, service delivery and development,” the President added.
Buhari told the lawmakers that the Federal Executive Council had already streamlined its priorities to nine areas of development, and ministers had been mandated to align their targets with the bigger picture of making life better for all Nigerians, urging the legislature to align its priorities as well.
The President of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, faulted those describing the 9th National Assembly as rubber stamp assembly because of the lawmakers’ decision to work harmoniously with the executive arm for the benefits of Nigerians.
He said those who make such comments are either doing so out of mischief or misunderstanding.
Lawan said, “This National Assembly decided quite early to work with the executive very harmoniously for the benefits of Nigerians. I am glad that Mr President has expressed similar commitment.
“In fact, this relationship is misunderstood by many. Some, out of mischief, describe the National Assembly as a rubber stamp, some, out of misunderstanding.
“For us, what is uttermost in our minds in the Ninth Assembly is how do we work with the executive to make Nigeria better.
“If the prize to pay is the names that we get, then let it be because we believe that Nigerians deserve better service, better infrastructure and it is difficult if not impossible to achieve meaningful development in this country or any democracy without understanding and harmony in the way and manner the two arms of government work.
“So far, we have been doing this for over 12 months, so it’s time to review this partnership and see the weaknesses in the relationship and the areas we have achieved so much which has resulted in some level of improved service delivery.
“There are a lot of rooms for improvement because, we believe we have not yet achieved that level of relationship that we can now say, it is good.”