Opinion: The Doctrine Of Separation Of Power And The Nigeria Situation .

Oladeji Olaniyan


 In recent times in our dear country; Nigeria, there have been prevalent power tussle and battle for supremacy  and wits between the executive and their counterpart; the Legislative arm avowed as the National Assembly. Many a people, are of the opinion that the National Assembly especially the Senate are becoming the clog in the wheel of progress of the executive because they have not been working  pari passu with the president concocts, hence, the need to properly examine the doctrine of separation of powers in the Nigeria situation.

  The doctrine of separation of powers was propounded by baron De Montesquieu which presupposes that; the three arms of government must be separately and independent that is, the executive, legislative and judiciary must exercise their powers independently. Also, a member of an arm of government should not be a member of another arm. If a member of the legislative arm is adjudged himself fit to be a member of the executive, he must  revoke his seat in the house before he can be a member of the executive; same procedure is applicable to the executive and judiciary alike. The doctrine also demands, the three arms to exercise their powers without any iota of interference by the other arm. It must be noted that, this doctrine basically practicable in a presidential system of government.

 Nigeria being a nation practising a presidential system of government by the virtue of the constitution, advocates for the doctrine of separation of powers of the three arms of government by guaranteeing independent exercise of powers of the three arms of government with their functions and responsible explicitly outlined. Section 4, 5 and 6 makes provision for the legislative arm, executive arm and judiciary arm respectively.

 The legislative arm is called the National Assembly which comprises of the House of representatives and the Senate; saddle with the responsibility of primarily making laws for the betterment of the country. The executive arm is made up of the president and his cabinet members appointed by him; they are saddled with the responsibility and duty of enforcing the laws and judicial decisions for the smooth running of  the day-to-day administration of the state. The judiciary on the other hand is the courts(superior and inferior court) responsible for the interpretation of diverse laws and adjudication.

 The separation of powers between the three arms of government was to propel and foster democracy in Nigeria but the situation in Nigeria is militating against the presumptions of the doctrine. The president and his cohorts expect the Senate to be a rubber stamp on all their activities and proposals without any form of backlash from the legislative arm.

The constant criticism against the Senate by some notable citizens like the constitutional lawyer itse Sagay negating the power of the Senate to summon him for questioning or anyone in the country is a flagrant ignorance of the constitutional duties of the Senate, prominent among those who have consistently refused to accede to the summon of The Senate, is the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; who is a member of the executive and the President in a way act as a back up for him, the case of lawal Babachir is not an exception.it should be noted that the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 empowers the Senate to summon any person for one reason or another by the virtue of Section89(1)(c) "summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions; and"
its therefore within the purview of the Senate to summon any person in Nigeria for investigation and questioning. The rejection of Ibrahim Magu the current unconfirmed chairman of the Economic financial crime commission by the Senate has been met with stiff criticism by the Presidency and staunch supporters of the President, with different claims that the Senate are against the anti corruption fight of the president but in reality, Ibrahim Magu is not the first to be rejected by the Senate and will not be the last to be rejected. There have been several cases in time past whereby the Senate the nomination of the president and the would return with another candidate for confirmation, the president and his lackeys expect the Senate to accept his nominations hook, line and sinker.

The Senate are only discharging their constitutional duties because The Constitution confers exclusive powers to the Senate among them the power to scrutinize and confirm major appointments of the executive. It is, however, specific about the appointments to be confirmed. They are those of the Ministers, Special Advisers, Ambassadors, top Judicial Officers heading specified levels of courts, the Auditor-General of the Federation, and the Chairmen and members of the vital National Commissions.

 Therefore, it is incumbent on the Senate to accept or reject any nomination of the President. In industrial psychology is something called power ambivalent; "its a situation when we are using power to meet the interest we think the use of power is positive and our use of power is responsible but when others are using the power to block or hinder something we see as in our interest we think they are playing power politics in a negative and unsavoury manner", that is the simple depiction of the president perception of the Senate and the judiciary. The Senate is an independent arm of government and should not allow herself to be gagged by anyone nor assuaged to kowtow to the whims and caprices of the executive arm. Independence of the Senate and the exercise of their powers is important to fostering our nascent democracy.
We shall get there!!!

Oladeji Olaniyan is a student journalist with OAU KILONSHELE NEWS OUTFIT. He can be contacted through; Email:olaniyanoladeji16@gmail.com
Twitter: @Oladeji_ymcmb
IG: Andrea_dexterous

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