Bauchi governor advocates judicial activism in addressing executive legislature standoff

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By Sule ALIYU, Bauchi

Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar has called for the adoption of judicial activism in resolving issues of misunderstanding of the powers conferred on the executive and legislature by the constitution.

According to a press release signed by the Press Secretary to the governor, Malam Abubakar Al-Sadique, Governor Abubakar a copy of which was made available to national trail  said the governor disclosed  while presenting a paper as a guest lecturer on executive-legislative relations and challenges of democratic consolidation in Bauchi State to course participants at the Institute for Security Studies of the Department of Security Services, Abuja.

He noted that constitutional democratic government with written constitution is the best form of government because the parameters of government are clearly defined, but lamented that Nigerians are not exploiting the opportunities accorded by the constitution to seek redress and improve the nation’s legal system.

Governor Abubakar, who is also a legal luminary, opined that separation of powers between the three arms of government is very important and the constitution is very clear on such principles with powers of all the arms well defined.

He said the reasons for separation of powers is to have an interplay between the arms, like in the case of the executive nominating those to be appointed as ministers or commissioners in states and the powers of the legislature to confirm or reject the nominees as well as the case of budget estimates preparation for legislative approval.

“On the question of whether budget estimates can be tinkered by the legislature, the law needs to be tested. I’m surprised that it has not been tested in court by concerned Nigerians especially the executive and legislative arms because in grey areas of the constitution, there is need for introduction of judicial activism” the governor said.

The governor reiterated the need for the 37 federating units of the country, comprising the 36 states and the federal government to operate within the powers given to them in the concurrent list of the constitution, saying most of the conflicts in operating the constitution arise at the federal level.

While noting that courts of records are accorded judicial powers while the legislature is empowered to create new courts, Governor Abubakar stressed that the Supreme Court should be approached on any thorny issues like on whether the legislature has power to increase or reduce budget estimates presented to it by the executive.

On the allegation of States Houses of Assembly being rubber stamps to their respective governors, Governor Abubakar said it is wrong to make such blanket allegations as the Bauchi State House of Assembly has only been a partner in progress to him since its inauguration in June 2015.

He revealed that his administration inherited 125 billion naira debt from the previous regime with empty treasury, regretting that Bauchi State which used to be a shining example to other states started stagnating from 2007 and later retrogressed to disturbing state.

The governor commended President Buhari for his “major unprecedented interventions to drive development in the country that includes soft loans, otherwise known as bailouts, given to governors to be repaid in twenty years with 9% interest rate for the purpose of paying workers’ salaries and salary-related emoluments”, from which Bauchi State got 8.6 billion naira as well as infrastructures loan of 10 billion naira given to all the states of the federation.

On the calls for restructuring the nation, Governor Abubakar observed that all the agitations can be done and addressed within the ambit of the constitution, and stressed that devolution of powers which failed to pass in the ongoing constitutional amendment at the National Assembly must be revisited because certain powers reside in the wrong tiers of government.

“Federal Government, for instance, should have no business on matters of education except in policy formulation” the governor added.