Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Chief of Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammed, yesterday, lamented that Nigeria is going through tough times, with the general climate in the country “literally inclement” .
Justice Muhammad, who stated this in Abuja, while delivering a goodwill message at the unveiling of the legislative agenda of the ninth House of Representatives, urged the legislature to come up with legislations that address the myriad of problems confronting the country.
The CJN, who was represented by Justice John Tsoho, said the judiciary is solidly behind the National Assembly as it embarks on a “voyage of national rebirth and reinvigoration”.
According to him, “ in your ninth House Legislative Agenda, you should endeavour to carry on board the general welfare and well-being of all Nigerians. The times are quite unfavourable, to say the least. The general climate in the country is literally inclement.
“The security challenges across the country are gaining momentum by the day; and the right legislation should be put in place to arrest the tide. The economic weather too is quite unfriendly. The purchasing power of an average Nigerian is waning. It is no more news that unemployment now governs the labour market. As you settle down to roll out your agenda for the ninth assembly, I crave your indulgence to fashion out new laws that will address the plethora of problems plaguing our nation.” The CJN promised that the judiciary will ensure adherence to the rule of law by all citizens, noting that the consequences of disobeying lawful court orders will be too grave to bear.
He stated that justice must be served in the country without fear or favour, irrespective of the personalities involved.
“We will on our part, as usual, vigorously pursue the observance of the rule of law for all citizens. There is no sacred cow anywhere, as no one is above the law, no matter his or her position in the society.
“Justice must be served without fear or favour. Every law of the land must be obeyed. Let me assure everyone present here that the consequences of disobeying lawful orders will too grave to bear,” the CJN said In his address at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, said the government will strive to maintain the cordial relationship currently existing between the executive and legislature.
He expressed optimism that through the legislative agenda, the legislature and the executive will be able to provide good governance to the country. President Buhari assured the leadership of the National Assembly that heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will appear before the various committees to defend their 2020 budget estimates.
He said “during budget defence, I assured you that all the ministers and MDAs will appear before the National Assembly to defend their budget. If we do anything short of that, that means we are undermining the cooperation between the executive and the legislature and maybe undermining the progress of the country.” Speaking at the event, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said both the Senate and House will continue to collaborate for the overall interest of the country. He stated that although the two chambers of the National Assembly drafted their legislative agenda independently, they have the same mission to take the country to greater heights in the next four years.
“One thing that we have decided collectively with the House is to pass the Budget 2020 before the end of the year by the grace of God. Already the House has suspended plenary, the Senate will do the same on Tuesday for the consideration of budget defence by MDAs.I will like to take this opportunity here today to say that only the window of October is available for budget defence.
“Any minister or any head of agency who decidea to travel out of Nigeria without defending his or her budget will not have opportunity again to defend that budget.The National Assembly will do the right thing, will do the appropriate thing, we work on the budget and pass it. We will not allow anyone to frustrate our desire to pass 2020 budget by the end of this year. It is an opportunity for everyone who is supposed to defend her budget or his budget to take the opportunity available,” Lawan said. Earlier, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his welcome address, said the legislative agenda is a product of extensive deliberations and contributions from within and outside the House.
He noted that the legislative agenda has articulated a set of priorities that of addressed will turn the country around for good..
“We have codified in these pages an ambitious agenda that we absolutely intend to achieve. First among these, is to reform the way the House of Representatives manages its own affairs in every area from the administration of our finances to the operations of the committee system and the process of vote taking and recording in the House. Our goal is accountability and transparency because as we seek to drive reforms across the government, we are obliged to make sure our own House is in the best order.
“We have collaborated with the private sector to outline a set of objectives and develop a programme of activities that will facilitate increased investment, encourage innovation and drive economic growth,” Gbajabiamila said.