Fresh effort is being made to end the frosty relationship between the Presidency and the Senate to end their frosty relationship.
But the Red Chamber of the National Assembly has given the Aso Rock Villa three conditions it must meet for peace to reign.
Top of the conditions is the removal of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and the withdrawal of a statement credited to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo through Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State that there is no going back on Magu’s nomination.
The other conditions include Presidency’s compliance with the resolutions/decisions/ summons of the National Assembly on budget and other issues, as well as prevailing on Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Raji Fashola to withdraw his statement attacking the integrity of the National Assembly.
The conditions, The Nation gathered, were tabled by the Senate leadership before a mediator who is trying to bring the warring sides together.
Sources said yesterday that the mediator enjoys the confidence of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The parley is understood to have succeeded for now in bridging the communication gap between the two arms of government.
It was learnt that the latest initiative is part of the effort to “resolve the feud between the two arms in a family manner” without any of the sides feeling hurt.
But it was gathered that Osinbajo made it clear that only President Buhari could determine Magu’s fate.
It was also gathered that Saraki told the intermediary that he has no personal grudges against the Acting President.
He, however, said senators were determined to protect the legislative institution.
According to a top source, the three conditions formed the kernel of talks between Osinbajo and Saraki last week, with the two leaders agreeing on a mature way of addressing the “grey areas.”
The source said the Presidency had been trying to address the three conditions with only Magu’s fate still hanging in the balance.
The source said: “We are getting closer to a win-win situation between the two arms. In fact, when the mediator met with Saraki, he said he had “met with Osinbajo and he nurses no personal grudges at all.
“He also said what the senators wanted was that the Senate be respected in accordance with its constitutional mandate by complying with its resolutions, decisions and summons.”
The source also explained that the Presidency has been forthcoming on the conditions set by the Senate.
The source said: “As for compliance with the resolutions or decisions or summons of the National Assembly, the Presidency gave a commitment to the Senate leadership to give due regards to the legislature.
“You know the Acting President is a lawyer and he believes in the principle of separation of powers.
“On Magu, the Acting President insisted that only his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari can determine the fate of the Acting chairman of EFCC.
“He said the Senate would have to wait for the return of the President.”
“Regarding a statement credited to el-Rufai, the mediation has revealed that the governor ran his own errand because nothing warranted the comments in the mandate given to him to represent the Acting President. Neither the Presidency nor Osinbajo can be held liable for el-Rufai’s comments.”
Rufai, representing Osinbajo at a public function in Kaduna, had quoted the Acting President as saying there was no going back on Magu’s nomination for the EFCC job.
There were however indications that the Acting President had directed the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Fashola to “clarify his statement” in a way that it will not hurt the relationship between the two arms of government.
The source added: “This was why Fashola tactically apologised to the National Assembly in an interview with reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum held at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
“He said if he was being misunderstood, his intention was not to quarrel with anybody but to see a better Nigeria.
“The Presidency believes such a mature retraction of Fashola’s virulent comments will assuage the National Assembly.”
In complying with the directive of the Acting President, Fashola had said: “There is no problem between me as an individual and the National Assembly.
“And let me make that very clear, many of the senators and honourable members are my personal friends, and so you don’t fight your friends. But we have a disagreement.
“You will remember when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, he had enormous support from the leadership of the National Assembly. So it means that we all agree there is a problem.
“There is also disagreement which I don’t think should make us disagreeable about the best way to implement that plan, and I think that is all there is to it.
“It is perhaps possible that in the heat of the moment, while trying to canvass different positions, we are misconstrued as fighting. But I am not fighting anybody. We have a disagreement it shouldn’t make us disagreeable.
“So my responsibility is to continue to engage. Also even if I wasn’t a minister, I am a citizen also, so the parliamentarians are also representing me.
“So these are the issues and if I have been misunderstood, my intention was not to quarrel with anybody but to see a better Nigeria which I believe they also want to see.”
Investigation showed that the Senate might also soft-pedal on its decision to reject nominees from the Executive.
A government source said: “With last week’s talks between the Acting President and the President of the Senate, we are expecting that tension will ease.
“The government has met some of the conditions tabled for peace between the two arms. Although the discussion is still ongoing, the latest mediator has done well.
“Ordinarily, since all the key actors are members of the same party, there is no basis for the Executive-National Assembly face-off.
“The two sides have substantially mended fences. We are hopeful that all will be well soon.”
- The Nation
www.sojworld.com (c) July 15, 2017.