President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met behind closed doors with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Lawan said Buhari had made a deliberate effort to ensure a good relationship between the two arms and warned political appointees not to jeopardize the harmonious bond between the legislature and the executive arms of government.
He said the National Assembly had always tried to ensure that the right thing was done for the country and that the president was in full support of their position for the sustenance of the relationship at all times for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.
Recall that the National Assembly had recently been involved in a confrontation with the Minister of State, Labour, and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, over the implementation of the 774,000 jobs across the country under the government special public works program.
Lawan said: “If you are an appointee of the President, you are supposed to be reflective of the attitude of the president towards the National Assembly and the National Assembly will continue to support Mr. President, but the National Assembly will take exception to any attitude or disposition that is not in support of the harmony in the relationship between the two arms of government.”
When asked whether they raised Keyamo’s issue with the President during the meeting, he, however, stated: “I think the relationship between this National Assembly and the Executive arm of government, particularly Mr. President, is beyond one employee of the President.”
Asked specifically if he believes that yesterday’s meeting will lead to a change of attitude by some ministers toward the National Assembly, he responded: “I don’t know what you mean by that, but let me say that this National Assembly has been very supportive, very friendly with the executive arm of government and there’s no doubt in my mind that the President has been quite supportive of the legislature as well.
“You will recall that in the processing of the budget last year, Mr President made a very categorical statement that no minister at that time should travel out of Nigeria without going to the National Assembly to defend his or her budget.
“That had never been done before and that was in support of the legislature and in almost every family engagement the president would commend the members of the National Assembly. So, Mr. President is in full support of the National Assembly and what we do.”
The Senate President said the National Assembly leaders were at the Presidential Villa on behalf of the legislature as part of its continuous engagement with the President.
He said: “We have come to see Mr. President on behalf of the members of the National Assembly and this is supposed to be a continuous engagement between the Legislature and the Executive arm of government.
“Whatever we’ll do to ensure that the administration works for Nigerians, we will do that and this is to enhance the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature to commit ourselves to ensure that we work together.
“Both the legislature and the executive must at all times work in the interest of the people of this country. We cannot afford not to do this because essentially, the government is for people to have service and the essence of this particular visit is to ensure that the legislature, the National Assembly and the executive arm of government, led by Mr. President, continue to work together to ensure that the relationship that we have, which has been working for this administration to deliver services to Nigerians is sustained.”
“I believe the outcome of this meeting is going to improve the relationship between the two arms of government. I imagine that at the end of the day, the trajectory of ensuring a very good and purposeful operational way of doing things between the two arms will continue.
“We have had a very good engagement with Mr. President. Mr. President has always respected the Legislature, he has always commended the National Assembly members for always being there to ensure that the requests by the Executive, in the national interest, are processed and we are sure that every member of the National Assembly has always been there to ensure that we do the right thing for this country and Mr. President is in full support of our position that this relationship must be sustained at all times for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.”