SENATE President David Mark on Wednesday said the constant bickering between the executive and the National Assembly was a direct fallout of “military hangover”.
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, believed the seeming face-off between the arms of government would deepen democracy.
Jonathan, Mark and Tambuwal spoke at the opening of a National Conference on Executive-Legislature Relations held in Abuja.
The conference was organised by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi.
Mark explained that due to the many years of military rule in the country, starting from 1966, people were still learning to appreciate the relevance of the legislature in governance.
He recalled that the “military boys” always went for the parliament whenever there was a coup, but retained the executive structures in place.
The Senate President said, “That is why whenever parliamentarians rise to the occasion, the people are surprised; they are in shock.
“We are working in collaboration, not in competition with each other.”
The President said disagreements between the two sides were necessary to bring out “the best” in terms of the quality of services delivered to Nigerians.
Jonathan, who was represented by the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, stated that he did not expect that the two arms of government would share the same views all the time.
He also rejected the notion that members of the two arms were either fighting or in competition with one another.
“Differences are expected in seeking the best solutions to national issues. We are not fighting”, he told the session.
Tambuwal spoke along the same line, noting that often times, attempts by the parliament to ask questions were misinterpreted as confrontation.
He said, “Executive-Legislature relationship is one of the most topical issues in the current dispensation.
“The House of Representatives believes in learning; we are not averse to leaning.”
But, a former Speaker of the House, Umar Ghali-Na’Abba, criticised the executive for alleged excessive abuse of power.
Recalling the battles the National Assembly fought with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Na’Abba said the executive at the time felt that lawmakers should be directly answerable to it.
He said though the Peoples Democratic Party had the majority control of the legislature, it failed to use the advantage to build the “synergy” needed for good governance.
Na’ Abba said, “All is not well and we cannot continue to pretend.
“The synergy was not there for the majority party to fully lead the parliament.
“In spite of having the majority, there was an attempt to impeach the President of the majority party.”
“Since 1999, the majority in governance has been misused.”