President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians who are aggrieved with some laws to be patient and seek reforms in line with democratic practices.
The president made the appeal at a two-day joint executive-legislative retreat designed to promote harmonious working relationship between the two arms of government, held in Abuja on Monday.
The new Company and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA) signed into law by President Buhari on August 7, has been generating negative comments from various quarters including religious leaders.
One contentious part of the law is section 839 (1) and (2) which empowers the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to suspend trustees of an association (including places of worship) and appoint interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons.
Many Nigerians, including church leaders, have expressed reservation over some sections of the new Company and Allied Matters Act 2020, and called for its urgent review.
However, Mr Buhari had on September 24, in a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, explained that the recently passed Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA), would entrench transparency and corporate accountability and enhance the fight against corruption.
The president, who reminded the citizens that the process of lawmaking and governance are dynamic, said his administration would continue to promote and ensure justice, peace and progress in the country.
“Let me also remind our fellow patriots, countrymen and women that the process of lawmaking and governance are dynamic and ever evolving.
“I will seek their indulgence to be patient with any legislation or law which they have certain misgivings about and engage the process for reviewing such law in line with democratic practices.
“Our interest is the sincere promotion of our collective will and aspirations to build a nation where justice, peace and progress are the norms,’’ he said.
On executive/legislative partnership, Mr Buhari stressed the need for more effective collaboration between the two arms of government to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.
He noted that the retreat offered an opportunity for the two arms to reflect and engage as one government, for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“I believe that the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution is designed to enable all arms of government to work together in cooperative and collaborative manner, through executive and legislative engagements.
“Let me thank the leadership and members of the ninth National Assembly for the cordial and warm relationship we have enjoyed in the last one year.”
“The quick passage of the 2020 budget and its review in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the timely confirmation of my nominees and passage of critical legislations by the National Assembly are all testament to your willingness and commitment to play your part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians
“There is compelling need to sustain and strengthen on this partnership by creating platforms for regular dialogue, consultation and interaction between the Executive and the Legislature to share ideas and build consensus on critical governance and policy issues.
“This approach will enhance coordination within government and strengthen our capacity to effectively address the challenges of governance, service delivery and development,’’ he said.
The president noted with delight that the country had since started reaping the benefits of the cordial relationship of the two arms government.
He said: “By virtue of our effective partnership and your support, this government has initiated critical reforms targeted at reforming and strengthening our economy, increasing efficiency in governance, consolidating on the repairs carried out in the last four years and putting the country on a steady path of growth and development.
“The accelerated of the passage of the 2020 budget and its review in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the timely passage of my nominees and passage of critical legislations by the National Assembly are all testaments to your willingness and commitment to playing your part towards delivering effective services to Nigerians.’’
He thanked the leadership of the NASS for adopting a new legislative agenda, and called for the inauguration of a committee to help sieve the outcome of the retreat and make appropriate recommendations to him and the NASS for implementation.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, lauded the cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms of the government.
He also commended President Buhari’s commitment towards sustaining and strengthening the partnership between the two arms.
Mr Lawan, however, frowned at those describing the national assembly as rubber stamp of the executive.
“In fact, this relationship is misunderstood by many. Some out of mischief describe the National Assembly as rubber stamped, some out of misunderstanding.
“For us, what is utmost in our minds in the ninth Assembly is how do we work with the executive to make Nigeria better.
“If the price to pay is the names that we get, then let it be. Because, we believe that Nigerians deserve better service, better infrastructure and it is difficult if not impossible to achieve meaningful development in this country or any democracy without understanding and harmony in the way and manner the two arms of government work.
“So far, we have been doing this for over 12 months. So, it’s time to review this partnership and see the weaknesses in the relationship and the areas we have achieved so much and say this relationship has worked and have achieved some level of improved service delivery.’’
According to him, the retreat will present opportunities to review and strengthen areas of weaknesses.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that the next two days both arms would talk to each other in “a frank and truthful manner because what we do here will impact significantly on the polity, governance and Nigerians deserve to have what we promised them.’’
In the same vein, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who also spoke at the event, said both arms needed to work symbiotically to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
“This two-day engagement will do nothing but to strengthen the relationship between these two critical arms of government and enhance it so that the people will be the better for it.
“I believe it will be frank, truthful, we will speak truth to each other and I believe the outcome will be to the benefit of all Nigerians,’’ he added.