n a democratic setting, the principle of checks and balances of powers is a major foundation for its sustainability. The executive, legislature and judiciary are all expected to check each other’s powers to avoid the abuse of power as is usually so evident in autocratic settings.
As with every other thing in Nigeria, the principle of checks and balances itself has been abused by all 3 arms of government. The tensions have always been there, but it has never been this bad; especially between the legislature and the executive. They are practically at each others’ throats on every issue.
From the election of the key members of the two chambers, to the 2016 budget, the appointment and confirmation of ministers and other positions and the $30 billion loan, the legislature has used each opportunity to flex its muscles and show Mr. President that he is not the one that runs the show. The latest is the rejection of Magu as the substantive EFCC chairman.
The manner in which the Senate handled the matter clearly demonstrates that they are out to frustrate the Presidency. After his nomination for months, Magu was refused a hearing regarding his confirmation up until late December. And when eventually presented, the Senate quickly threw him out on the basis of a ‘security report’ from the Department of State Services (DSS). Was the Senate unaware of this ‘report’ for the several months preceding Magu’s appearance before it?
This is not to say that the Executive is free from blame entirely. The military background of its Head is evident in the confrontational stance adopted by the Executive in handling matters. Just this week, the Senate lamented how their decisions are flagrantly disregarded. Of course, the main culprit is the executive. Take also the clamp down of former office holders and even more distastefully, the arrest of the so-called corrupt judges. Rather than diplomatically handle the matter, the ‘gung ho’ method used is likely to initiate another face-off between the judiciary and the executive.
What is most unfortunate is that through the political battle of wills, the greatest loser is the average Nigerian on the street. Mr. President, legislators, judges all get paid as at when due. The Nigerian who is affected by actions is not. Probably, it is time to develop a means to check the check that refuses to be checked.