By SundiataPOST, Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has advised the executive branch and the legislature to respect the boundaries of their constitutionally defined powers and responsibilities in order to avoid long-drawn out conflicts, which might impede governance.
Speaking at the opening session of the 2013 Africa Legislative Summit on political parties and legislative autonomy on Tuesday in Abuja at the International Conference Centre, the former Vice President noted that while the struggle for power between the executive and the legislature is normal, the larger national interest should be allowed to take precedence over their egos.
According to Atiku, the people of Nigeria would be served better if the different arms of government are guided by national interest rather than egos.
He noted that even in the United States such conflicts between the executive and legislative branches do exist. The former Vice President, however, advised that “compromises are key to serving the national interest and avoiding a gridlock.”
The former Vice President explained that attempts to supplant the power or roles of one another could plant the seeds of conflict and that such temptation should be avoided.
On the theme of the Summit, which relates to “political parties and legislative autonomy”, former Vice President Abubakar said legislators were elected in their own right and the idea of expecting them to follow the party line was a potential source of conflict.
The former Vice President also reiterated his support for a two-party system for Nigeria, which he said, is more suited for Nigeria’s peculiar circumstances.
According to him, the two-party system “would help to narrow the differences among parties” and remove the traditional fault-lines in our political system.
On internal democracy, Abubakar said although, Nigeria’s democracy is still young, “we have not often taken adequate steps to deepen it,” and that authoritarian tendencies had not been overcome, despite the return to democracy.
He noted with concern that “the vestiges of intolerance of opposition and criticism remain quite strong”.
He expressed the conviction that political parties should be vehicles for citizen participation in the political process and that the parties should get their interests represented in the legislature.
The former Vice President, however, maintained that internal democracy among political parties was “critical to allow for free expressions by all members and for various tendencies to find space for expression.”