The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the leadership of the Senate to resist any form of intimidation aimed at forcing it to surrender its independence and pass bills without statutory legislative scrutiny.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the major opposition party described such a stance as unconstitutional and unacceptable.
“It amounts to relinquishing statutory powers of checks and balances of the National Assembly,” the party added.
PDP said its position was predicated upon the comment credited to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, that “any request from President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly is good for the nation, even without subjecting such requests to statutory legislative scrutiny.”
The PDP statement read in part: “This, our party notes, will create an alarming impression that the present National Assembly has been annexed by the executive and reduced to a rubber-stamp legislature.
“The statement by the Senate president has heavily detracted from the expected independence of the legislature. It is fast eroding the confidence Nigerians have in the Senate and the National Assembly as true representatives of the people at the national level.”
Noting that even if the Senate leadership believed in the import of any request or bill from the president, PDP insisted that “the 1999 Constitution (as amended) requires the legislature to pass such through its statutory checks and balance processes to ensure that the content and intent are in tandem with the overall national interest.”
According to the party, which ruled the country for 16 years, such legislative checks are enshrined in the constitution to curtail the excesses of the executive as well as create room for the democratic tenet of citizens’ participation through their elected representatives.
“Anything to the contrary is a direct suspension of our constitution, enthronement of dictatorship and a sidestepping of the legislative powers, which is capable of destroying the institution of the National Assembly,” it added.