By Cosmas Ekpunobi
When prrsident Mohammadu Buhari accepted a few days ago to appear before a joint session of the National Assembly to discuss the unending killings in the land , the immediate reaction in some quarters was that the Daura born general turnrd democrat has accepted a task he may not have the political wil to handle .
And for some political pundicts it was indeed another joke taken too far for a seemingly perceived hostile House of Representatives to have summoned the Commander-In Chief and expect him to show face at the green chamber to today ( Thursday.)to even discuss issues ( insecurity ) for which the lawmakers had repeatedly told him, (the president) what to do going forward but he refused .
It was indeed naive for the same 9th National Assembly that have a habit of running to vila to see the president every other day to even discuss it’s affairs to have summoned rare courage to invite him instead . Though there are indication that the lower chamber may have acted alone here , but emerging signals suggest that the last minute decision to turn down the invitation may further put asunder in the much criticised political marriage between the National Assembly and presidency.
Critics said it would have been strange for a President that hardly step his feet into the hallowed chamber to have willingly accepted to honour such summon even when the emerging signals from the National Assembly appears politically dangerous for APC led government to handle
Source said the president may still have his fears over the National Assembly even when his preferred candidates are , Senator Ahmed Lawan ( Senate president and Femi Gbajabiamila ( House of Representatives )are in firm control of both chambers . According to him ,the presidency is still very skeptical about the nation apex law-making body and would not take chances . The big question in the lips of many why would the president accept the invitation in the first place without due diligence.
The rumoured plot by some opposition lawmakers to impeach the president or atleast embarrass him on the floor of the House did not help matters either as this may have heightened the fear in villa that the president may be stepping his feet into a political landmine .
PDP caucus in the House was reported to have threatened to impeach the president for his alleged poor handling of the nations affairs especially on is due of rising insecurity in the land .
Therefore ,the last minute move by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami to shelve the planned visit of the president to the National Assembly never came as a surprise to many Nigerians .
Mr Malami was alleged to have consulted his ‘legal laboratory ‘in a spirited move to find a subtle way to puncture the visit ,when other close allies to President Buhari insisted last minute that it would be dangerous for him to face the aggrieved lawmakers at this point .
The minister of justice a statement that nailed the visit told the stunned lawmakers that the National Assembly lack the powers to summon President Buhari to speak on the growing insecurity in the land .
According to him “the National Assembly has no Constitutional Power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned by the National Assembly on the operational use of the Armed Forces.
“The right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary in the President and not at the behest of the National Assembly.
“The management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces.
“An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the armed forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law-making beyond bounds.
“As the Commander in Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security. These powers and rights he does not share.
Unfortunately this innocent invitation as the House of Representative claimed it was may have returned it to trenches with the senate. Senate in its official reaction on Wednesday insisted that the lower chamber acted alone in the invitation of President Buhari .
Other senators percieved to Buharis cronies said the invitation was entirely the idea if the House of Representatives .
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, said it is unconstitutional and an aberration for any arm of the National Assembly to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it.
But the Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru (Osun was reported to havr told journalists on wednesday that the Senate has nothing to do with the invitation of the President by the House.
He said that since the Senate did not summon the
President, it would not want to be dragged into any controversy as to whether the President will appear before a joint session of the National Assembly or not.
Basiru said: “I’m a spokesperson of the Senate. There was no resolution of the Senate that the President should come and address it on the issue of national security.
“I expect that every enquiry as to the summoning and coming of the President should be directed to the House of Representatives.
“We operate a bi-camera legislature. That’s why our rules and procedures are different and that is why also we need concurrence from the two Houses on passing of legislation.
“On this matter, there has not been an issue of a joint resolution. What you have is resolution of the House of Representatives.
Read Also: Insecurity: Malami faults N/Assembly’s invitation to Buhari
“And I believe, the House of Representatives should be able to tell you why the resolution was passed, and what will happen to that resolution.
“As far as the Senate is concerned, we have not summoned the President and we don’t want to get ourselves involved in any controversy as to whether the president will appear or not.
“To the best of my knowledge I’m not aware of any planned joint session of the National Assembly .
But the deputy Minority leader in the House Hon.Toby Okechukwu in a reaction said: “Without making undue efforts to win an argument, Section 89 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended clearly empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with Section 62 of the Constitution to procure evidence, written or oral, and to ‘summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place.
“Therefore, the attempt to pressurise Mr. President not to appear clearly shows that some highly placed political actors in the ruling party are placing politics over the protection of lives of Nigerians. The APC is evidently fiddling with propaganda and politics while Nigeria burns.”
The lawmaker described as unfortunate a situation where every invitation by an arm government for interaction towards addressing any national challenge is considered as demeaning, thereby triggering unnecessary flexing of muscles.
He said: “It is evident from APC’s position as made public by the AGF that the safety of Nigerian citizens would take a back sit in the next few days, while the argument over who is right or wrong unfortunately takes the front seat.”
He called on President Buhari to rise above the legalese and political fray to show leadership to rally the Nigerian people and their parliament to find lasting solutions to the growing insecurity in the country.
House spokesman Benjamin Kalu, who was initially confident the President will honour the invitation, did not respond to several calls put across to him.