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28 Feb 2018

‘Greed, self-interest behind executive/legislature conflict’, Yemi Osinbajo reveals

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday attributed the disagreements between the executive and the legislature to greed, self-interest and hypocrisy.
He said despite the principles of separation of powers, there were still tensions and conflicts among the arms of government, especially between the executive and the National Assembly.

Osinbajo said: “Various factors can be identified as the causes of conflicts between organs of government, especially between the legislature and executive, who have to constantly interact in the course of discharging their respective constitutional duties.

“Conflicts could arise from misunderstanding of constitutional responsibilities; inordinate foray or venture by one organ into the territory of another organ, inordinate ambition or domineering attitude by one over others, power struggle, greed or self-interest, hypocrisy, lack of patriotism and corruption.”

Osinbajo spoke in Abuja at a “Dialogue of organs of government on reform of justice sector and campaign against corruption” involving the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

It was organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice and held at the State House Banquet Hall.

The vice president, represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said while absolute separation of powers might be unattainable, the three arms of government must cooperate to maintain a workable government.

“When this cooperation happens, it strengthens the democratic process, promotes good governance and responsible leadership, promotes transparency and accountability in governance, assists the executive to be focused and committed to delivering good governance to the citizens and helps the legislature to make efficient laws that will promote good governance and curb corruption,” he said.

Osinbajo said for there to be harmony, each arm must carry out the functions assigned to it by the constitution effectively and within the limits of its power. Usurpation of the others’ power, he said, would lead to friction.

According to him, unresolved conflicts slows down the pace of governance, creates suspicion and hostility, encourages bad governance, creates distraction and tension, and encourages the culture of impunity and disregard for the rule of law among the political class, with attendant political instability that divides the populace.

“In order to avoid these consequences and for a government to deliver development to the people, it is imperative for the three arms of government to constantly bury the hatchet and focus on collaborative efforts within their constitutional responsibilities to formulate and implement effective governance laws and policies.

“All three arms must be development focused in fulfillment of their roles and be ready to subsume personal interests to the overriding public good,” Osinbajo said.

The vice president said despite the Transparency International report, suggesting that Nigeria declined in the corruption perception index, the government was focused on the war against corruption.

“We are firmly of the view that real progress is being achieved in the fight against corruption, and perception may indeed lag behind reality.

“But, as the saying goes, perception is sometimes stronger than reality, so we have to keep up the fight, until the full effect of our efforts can be clearly seen and perceived,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria’s ranking should not be seen as a setback, “but rather as an opportunity to continue building on the many successes that have already been recorded by this government in all key sectors.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki, represented by Senator David Omoru, said TI’s report was an opportunity to redouble efforts in fighting corruption.

According to him, there was need to further strengthen anti-corruption institutions and processes, adding that graft must be fought without bias.

Saraki highlighted the Senate’s efforts to complement the fight against corruption, such as passage of the Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters Bill, the Secured Transactions in Movable Asset Bill and the Whistle-blowers Bill.

“Let me reiterate that we are committed to the fight against corruption, and we welcome opportunities for greater collaboration between the arms of government,” Saraki added.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen, represented by the Court of Appeal President Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, said corruption and other forms of injustice thrive in a culture of impunity.

According to him, the culture of impunity, which he said was an “attitudinal phenomenon”, must be fought if there is to be a successful campaign against corruption.

“If we allow the rule of law to reign, then there will be a dramatic reduction in corruption and injustice,” the CJN said.

PACAC Chairman Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said corruption can be successfully tackled if no arm of government condones it, adding that no arm can indict others for corruption, when it does not tackle it from within.

“If you do not remove the log in your eye, you cannot remove the spec in another person’s eye. Specifically, anyone guilty of corruption in any arm of government should be dealt with harshly by colleagues in that arm; otherwise that sector will lose credibility,” he said.

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