The Senate has reacted to the setting up of a committee by the Federal Executive Council to settle the rift between it and the National Assembly with five conditions that must be met for peace to reign.
The Senate through a ranking senator (name withheld) who is close to the leadership of the senate identified five conditions for peace to reign between the executive and the legislative arm of government, Daily Trust reports.
He said for peace to prevail between the presidency and the senate, the trial of the senate president, Bukola Saraki should be discontinued forthwith.
“The trial of Saraki is central to the crisis because it is believed that they came up with it because he ‘violated’ the interest of the presidency and the party (APC) to emerge the senate president. If his trial is stopped, there would be peace,’’ he said.
He added that irrespective of the peace moves by the executive, the camps within the presidency must be united, otherwise they will continue to use the senate against each other.
“A camp in the presidency is using the senate against another. This is the second issue that must be addressed for peace to reign. Buhari should dissolve the camp, otherwise no serious progress would be made,” he added.
He also said, the head of government agencies including ministers must be made to respect senate resolutions. “If a resolution is passed, the executive doesn’t respect it, there is general contempt against us. This must stop,” he said.
He said there was urgent need for the president to engage the leadership of the APC for proper coordination of the party’s caucus at the senate.
“The president must be talking to the party for it to be talking to caucus. If the president is bringing anything to the senate, the party should be involved.
“The fifth one is that there is no personal communication between the senators and the president. There is need for this,” he said.
When Daily Trust contacted the spokesperson of the senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, he said: “You are just telling me now. I’m not aware of such committee and I don’t know its terms of reference.”
Another source disclosed that there are issues between the presidency and the two chambers of the National Assembly, not only the Senate.
“Frankly speaking, there are issues with both chambers. Yes, that of the Senate may be pronounced, but there are issues with the House as well. How can you increase the budget of the judiciary by N30bn without increasing that of the legislature? The lawmakers are not happy with this.
“Again, the president doesn’t see them as anything. He treats them with disdain, and it’s the fault of his aides. He doesn’t meet lawmakers privately to discuss issues, which wasn’t the case in the past. They’re only managing to work with him.
“There were instances that the president would travel to a place with the Senate President and the Speaker, but he would be distanced from meeting the National Assembly leaders. All these things may be small, but they’re important as far as their relationship is concerned. The House is only managing the relationship, while that of the Senate seems to go out of hand.
“As I speak with you, there are lawmakers that are not principal officers, but they have unfettered access to the Villa, while principal officers don’t. If anything comes up, those lawmakers that are just committee chairmen can’t do anything to defend the president.
“For me, the way out is for the president to open up and make himself accessible to the lawmakers. He should know that it’s not a one-man show. He should respect them the way they respect him,” the source said.
But another lawmaker said there are no serious issues between the House and the presidency but that the attitude of some heads of government agencies toward the lower chamber was unbecoming.
“There are no real issues that one can say are pronounced. The issues we have mostly have to do with heads of agencies. Sometime when we invite them, they don’t want to appear until we now summon them.
“As a parliament, we have powers to invite anybody to appear before us on an issue, but they give flimsy excuses here and there. That notwithstanding, we don’t have issues with the presidency currently.
“The real issues are in the Senate. In fact, at some point, the speaker was trying to mediate between the Senate and the presidency, that’s to tell you we don’t have issues with them. May be the presidency sensed that the suspension of Ndume may lead to other things, that is why they quickly swung into action,” the lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is to head the committee set up by the presidency to resolve the rift with the lawmakers.
Other members of the committee include all ministers who were former senators.
These are Chris Ngige (Labour), Udoma Udoma (Budget and National Planning), Heineken Lokpobiri (State, Agriculture), Hadi Sirika (State for Aviation) and Aisha Alhassan (Women Affairs).
Other members are the Senior Special Assistants to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang (Senate) and Samaila Kawu (House of Representatives).
Members of the committee met at the vice president’s office after the cabinet meeting.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told reporters that the cabinet expressed concern over the strained relationship between the executive and the Senate in particular.
He said: “The executive is also concerned that the relationship between the two arms of government is not as smooth as it is supposed to be.
“In any democracy, it is a continuous struggle for balancing between the executive and the legislature because each of them is a creature of the law.
“We must strive at all times to ensure that there is that balance, amity and smooth relationship.
“Just today (Wednesday) at the Federal Executive Council meeting, the issue was discussed and a committee is already working on ensuring that we resolve all these outstanding issues,” the minister said.
The Senate Tuesday put off the confirmation of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission for two weeks.
It took the decision to protest continued presence in office of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, even though his nomination was rejected twice by the senate.
The upper chamber had also expressed displeasure at the refusal by the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, to wear uniform.
The Senate had earlier this year called for the removal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, following allegation of misappropriation of funds meant for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the northeast.