Wednesday, 1 August 2018

With Saraki's Defection:PDP Now Majority Party In Senate

The movement of Senate President Bukola Saraki has altered the power configuration in the upper legislative chamber, increasing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) number from 54 it was at the first gale of defections last week to 55 (using Senate record).

With the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) membership declining from 51 to 50, (with Saraki’s defection) the PDP has become the majority party in the Senate with five significant implications.

•For the first time in the political history of the country, the opposition party would form the majority in the upper legislative chamber, forcing the ruling party to relinquish its leadership of the Senate.

•Saraki would retain his presidency, effectively making the number three citizen an opposition politician.

•In that capacity, he also becomes the highest elected person in opposition camp, a situation that catapults him to the position of national leader of the PDP.

•Consequently, the current Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, would become the majority leader.

As majority leader, Akpabio would have the responsibility of presenting executive bills, an eventuality that leaves the ruling party in a precarious situation as the opposition party may frustrate executive bills.

Wanted, Assembly Police!

Following widespread abuse of the coercive machinery of state, particularly the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) personnel by the executive, there is a growing belief that the need has arisen for the legislature to have its own law enforcement arm that protects it from undue interference from the executive.

According to analysts, who would not want their names in print, a legislative police that would be controlled by the legislature had become imperative given the use of the police by the executive arm of government to harass and intimidate other arms of government, particularly the legislature.

Reference is made to the perennial use of the police to brazenly interfere in the affairs of the other arms of government simply because the operational control of the security agency is vested in the executive by the 1999 Constitution.

Last Monday’s incident in the Benue State House of Assembly, where eight of 30 lawmakers initiated an impeachment proceeding against the state Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, with the aid of the police, despite the fact that the police ought to be under the direction of the governor as stipulated by the constitution, is cited as the most recent abuse of the police by the executive to serve political end.

They traced the recent history of the police by the executive to the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo under whose watch sitting governors, including Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi both of Anambra State; Senator Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State; and Chief Joshua Dariye of Plateau State were summarily harassed out of office by political opponents with the aid of the police.

Although they all got their mandates back through the intervention of the Supreme Court, their harrowing experience, said analysts, could not have been adequately made up for by the justice they got from the courts.

Perhaps the intervention of the judiciary, which restored the governors’ right in harsh tones, moderated the temperament of the Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administrations that succeeded Obasanjo.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari in the statement by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, Tuesday recommitted to constitutionalism, many analysts are of the view that the legislature needs its own police in order to maintain the delicate balance of power between the executive and legislature, and preserve the principle of separation of power as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“There is a need to institute a balance of power and review the constitutional basis for the vesting of police powers in the executive arm alone,” an analyst said, pointing out that elsewhere, specifically, the United States, the legislature has its own police that protect it.

Actually, the US Congress has a force called United States Capitol Police (USCP), which according to Wikipedia, is a federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.

It said: “The USCP is the only full service federal law enforcement agency responsible to the legislative branch of the U.S. government.”

Source:Thisday Newspaper

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