By Haruna Salami
The tragic impact of defection of Senators from the party that sponsored them to another party on the core duties of legislation, representation and overnight can better be imagined.
The doctrine of separation of powers in the presidential system of government ensures that while the legislature makes the law, the executive implements the law and the judiciary interpretes the law, the legislature has additional responsibility to ensure the executive, in the process of executing the programmes/projects of government stays within the budget approved by the legislature.
The legislature does this through its oversight function. This explains why the legislature and the executive arms usually don’t agree on many issues in the overall interest of the people.
However, in the case of Nigerian National Assembly, particularly the 9th Senate, the upper chamber in the bicameral legislature, controlled by the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC is on the “same page” with the executive. The only semblance of separation of powers is the strong voice of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Unfortunately, the regime of defection of senators from PDP to APC has eroded that hope of checking executive proposals to the legislature.
At the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly on June 11, 2019, the Senate had 62 APC members while PDP had 45 and Young Peoples Party, YPP had 1.
However, this ratio has since changed due to wave of defection from the main opposition PDP to the ruling APC.
The latest Senator to dump PDP is Stella Oduah representing Anambra North who defected last August.
The highest single day defection occurred in June 2021, shortly before the Senate went on its annual recess. Three senators belonging to the PDP resigned their membership of the party and defected to the APC.
The lawmakers who defected that day were Senators Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North), Lawali Hassan Anka (Zamfara West); and Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North).
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who read their three separate letters of defection stopped midway as a result of interjections from PDP Senators and teased them that “more defections were underway”.
Lawan told the PDP senators that he knew this was not easy, but urged them to “learn to live with it because many more will be coming here”.
As the Senate, and indeed the National Assembly anxiously resumes on Tuesday September 14, 2021, the balance of power has tilted further in favour of the ruling APC, no thanks to the defections into the party.As things stand today APC has 70, PDP 38 and YPP 1.
If Lawan’s expectation of more defectors from PDP to APC is anything to go by, it could be tragic for the country as the alternative views usually expressed by the main opposition PDP will grow dimmer, which is a great disservice to fatherland and a boost to the tragedy of “same page” executive-legislature conspiracy.
If the vocal voice of PDP through Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, Senate Minority Leader could not check the upper chamber from curtailing the Federal Government’s appetite for more external borrowing with all the consequences on the nation’s debt profile or persuade the powerful majority to listen to yearnings of the host communities to up their fund from 3% during consideration of Petroleum Industry Bill, now Petroleum Industry Act, PIA then the consequences of a weaker opposition party in the Senate can better be imagined.
If the unfortunate prediction by Senate President that more PDP senators would cross over to APC as the Senate sets to resume and the drift continues until APC gets two third majority, one can be sure that any executive bill, no matter it adversely impacts on the masses will be passed without thorough scrutiny.
…..As death hits NASS family during recess
Apart from the defection saga, the National Assembly family was hit by the painful murder of Captain Abdulkarim Na’Allah, son of Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah in Kaduna during the recess.
The heinous crime attracted the sympathy of many Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari and powerful delegation of the Senate led by Ahmad Lawan, Senate President on condolence visit to the Na’Allah family.
In the House of Representatives, the lawmaker representing Akure South/North Constituency, Hon Adedayo Omolafe passed on during the recess.
Omolafe popularly known as “Expensive” was a former chairman of the Akure South council area of the state.
The House of Reps member was unconscious for a few hours at night and was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owo where he reportedly died at about 2 am that morning.
So ahead of the resumption of NASS, how the defection saga will impact on NASS as well as the impact of the recent tragic deaths are key issues on the lips of key watchers of the polity.