Nigerians have focused their attention on the great powers given to the President and Governors by the constitution.
Arguing that the grand law accorded them too much power, they called for an immediate constitutional amendment to reduce the powers of the President and Governors, and to inaugurate members of the National Assembly, and the State Houses of Assembly before holding the Presidential and Governorship elections.
In a recent report, legal practitioners, activists, and other citizens stated that the current lawmakers in Nigeria were string-puppets of the President and respective state Governors, who have too much power.
They said the country was at crossroads with its current contraption of democracy and there should be proper separation of powers between the three arms of government without which democracy would not work in the country. Nigerians also want a modification of the electoral system.
A lawyer and former president, Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, Eric Omare, said, “The issue of the legislature becoming an extension of the executive or being controlled by the executive is a very serious threat to virile democracy.
The hallmark of democracy is checks and balances, which we are not experiencing currently because of the executive capture. If the people truly elect the legislators, starting from party primaries, then the executive would not capture them easily. “Currently, the president and governors have too much control over the electoral process, especially the political parties. A closely related problem is that poverty must be addressed for the people to freely elect people with integrity as legislators.”
Similarly, a former chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Emmanuel Uti, stated, “I will say the legislature has failed to carry out its over sight functions as clearly stated in the Constitution. Also, the lawmakers enacted most of the laws for their own benefits, not for posterity. With respect to members of the state House of Assembly, our laws have made them willing tools because in choosing our political leadership, the party gives power to individuals with funds, and governors fund the party.
“Therefore, for anyone to become an aspirant for the state House Assembly, the governors must give his approval.”
Other Nigerians who spoke on the issue lamented that the President and Governors have too much powers which make them to act as if they are above the law, even as they call the shots; adding that there is the need to trim down the excessive powers through constitutional amendment. It is not clear if the President Bola-led All Progressives Congress, APC, government will allow that to happen.