By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, told the National Assembly that President Muhammadu Buhari assented to bills sent to him based on merit irrespective of where they emanated from.
Osinbajo made the remark in Abuja at a public lecture to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the National Assembly Legislative Digest, a magazine published to create awareness on parliamentary practices.
The theme of the event was: “Strengthening Legislative Bureaucracy: The Dangers of Divided Loyalty.”
Osinbajo, who commended the lawmakers on the number of bills passed so far, assured that the executive would continue to work hand-in-hand with the legislature.
He was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang.
‘’We want to say to National Assembly in general that Mr President commends you for the number of bills that comes out of the National Assembly.
“We want to say that it doesn’t matter to us whether the bill is executive bill or member-sponsored bill.
“President Muhammadu Buhari considers the bill on its merit and assents to it if he feels such or declines assent giving good and cogent reason.
‘’So, the president does not discriminate or look at any bill coming from the National Assembly if it was a member bill or executive bill. He treats them as bills passed by the legislature,” he said.
The vice president said that the executive would continue to ensure that not only the legislators’ capacity was built but that the legislative bureaucracy’s capacity was also built.
‘’And, that is why the president funds the building of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies from the executive vote. He doesn’t say, look, fund it from the National Assembly budget.
‘’We put it in the budget that is approved by the National Assembly for the executive as part of our contribution to make sure capacity-building for the legislators and capacity-building for the institution of legislature in Nigeria,” he said.
He noted that in the relationship between the executive and the legislature, ”sometimes, it is the relationship between the political leadership and the executive that is always emphasised.
”But, there is engine room and brain box of this relationship in terms of bills, legislative matters, political advice and all other back room dressings.
“This is the bureaucracy, the National Assembly management and so we, the executive, appreciate you so very much.”
He promised that the executive would maintain the channel of relationship that had been created through the occasion and improve on it.
On his part, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that the theme of the event was apt, pointing out that ‘’loyalty to one’s community or nation is paramount.’’
According to him, it is divided loyalty that leads to complexity and corruption among others.
Represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’allah, Saraki said that if commitment and loyalty were geared toward a single course, ‘’which is nationhood, then we will be promoting partners in progress rather than dichotomy and sectionalism.”
He described the Digest as a tool to bridge the information gap between the NASS and the public and said that Nigeria’s democracy could be enhanced or endangered by the media.
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, represented by Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, said: ‘’the topic strikes at the heart of the defining character of a true public servant or a bureaucrat, which is loyalty.”
According to him, the colonial masters who bequeathed the bureaucracy we are operating deliberately named all officers in the system as servants to instil in their sub-conscious minds that they are servants of the people.
Dogara said that the “servants’’ must therefore, be loyal to the people, adding that similarly, all who hold key political offices, either by election or appointment, were constitutionally mandated to swear to Oath of Office and Allegiance.
‘’We cannot afford to compromise this duty,” he said, adding that loyalty engendered good attributes such as accountability, diligence and honesty.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, who expressed total loyalty to the leadership of NASS, said hard work to service was loyalty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Digest was first published in 2010 and went into oblivion four years after.