Daily Independent Online.
Thursday, August 28, 2003.
‘Why Lagos wants parliamentary system for LGs’
Mr. Adeola Olamilekan, member, Lagos State House of
Assembly, spoke with Habib Aruna on why it would be difficult for the House to
confront Governor Bola Tinubu and other important issues. Excerpts:
On face-off between the executive and legislature
The recurrent disagreement between the executive and the
legislature has been as a result of the past history of the country and long
years of military rule. During the military era, we only had two arms of
government, the judiciary and the executive while the legislative arm has long
been forgotten. But thank God that we now have what could be interpreted as a
democratic rule and you know we have just started because all the democratic
experience we have had in the past could not see the light of day, except
perhaps, the one we had between 1979 and 1983. So it is now that we are trying
to adjust and harmonise issues. So I think our bane has been the neglect this
arm of government has had in the past. And considering what the system suffered
in the past, in fact we should be happy with the current level of
stabilisation. I believe in the not too distant future, the two arms of
government would work together and be able to come out with something that will
be in the overall interest of the people. Look at for instance what Asiwaju
Bola Tinubu has been trying to do. He has been trying to bring together the
three arms and make sure no arm feels cheated. More than this, he has been trying
to create conducive atmosphere for effective cooperation between these three
arms of government. I also believe that in the foreseeable future things are
bound to get better.
How far do you think we would go before things get better?
You see when you are talking about the United States of
America we are talking about a country that has been in democracy for more than
two hundred years. The US constitution, as you well know, has been there since
1809 and the one guiding this democracy became operational in 1999. Except one
state in the US that is unicameral, the others are bicameral and to some extent
independent of the central government. In other words this is a country where
true federalism is practiced as against Nigeria where what you have is a centrifugal
type of federal system, you understand. That is why the outside world referred
to us as having a civilian government instead of a democratic one. I believe
until all these is corrected a lot of things would still be wrong with the
system. And don’t also forget that in the US, the legislature takes the
first shot. So the legislature in Nigeria needs to be fully integrated back
into the system. For instance, look at the Committee of Commerce and Industry,
in line with our responsibility granted by the constitution, we paid a schedule
visit to the ministry and we have to be turned back. The Permanent Secretary
could not even welcome us to his office on the excuse that he had visitors that
he was attending to. So for now, the executive still takes the shot, but we
know that as time goes on things will get better.
On the move by the Presidency to reform the local government
To be sincere the third tier of government needs to be
reformed, but the reform needs to be extended to all the levels of government.
I think President Olusegun Obasanjo has just started, he would move to other
levels. And I must be sincere with you that whatever reform they have in mind,
it would not stop at the local government level and I think the government has
to involve all stakeholders so that we can come out with a blueprint on how the
councils would be run and I hope and pray that this is what we are going to see
at the end of the day by September when the report will be submitted.
Do you buy the idea that the traditional rulers should play
more roles at local government level?
That dated back to those days when we were practicing
parliamentary system of government and the presidential system we have
presently. The state government has made its memorandum to the technical committee
and that is parliamentary system should be in operation at the local level. You
all saw it when Chief Remi Adikwu-Bakare presented our case to the committee.
So let us see if the two systems can be mixed at the local level, let’s
see how it works out. And I think that is why the constitution granted them the
autonomy but with the supervision of the state government. The autonomy is not
for them to have unfettered powers, but it is the responsibility of the state
government to look into their affairs and their activities. But you must be
rest assured that by the time they submit their reports, a lot of people would
have much to say about it.
On the perception that the lawmakers are mere errand boys of
I must be sincere with you I don’t share this view.
You said there has not been any open confrontation with the governor on
fundamental issues. All issues before the house are what affect the general
interest of the people. And so far the executive has only presented to us four
bills since inception, which we have started looking into. The bills have
passed through the second reading they are now at the committee level and if
there is anything to be included we will do so before we pass it to the
executive for the governor to assent. And really I don’t believe in a
situation whereby the executive and the legislature would be at loggerhead,
when there is no need for it. If need be for the two arms to disagree they will
disagree and I think we are not to be at crossroads with ourselves, it will go
against the goal and the aim of the generality of the people. The so-called
dividends of democracy cannot get to our people if the two arms are always at
loggerhead. It should be a situation where we disagree to agree, it should be a
place where we fight over an issue and we reconcile that issue, it should not
be a situation where we be at loggerheads and there is no breakthrough. It is
the interest of the people that matters, so in order to bring the much-needed
dividends of democracy to our people the two arms should work in harmony and be
able to come out with a common agenda for the development of the state. Coming
back to the leadership of the house, I must be sincere with you it has been so
far so good, we have not had it so rough. The principal officers of the house
have been doing their best in carrying the members along. They have been
performing their duties in their own little ways. But not that there are not
some comas, but we believe as time goes on they will be able to make the
necessary corrections. For now members of the house have been functioning
harmoniously, there is no problem.
Can you be categorical that the governor has not been too
Yes I am being categorical that the governor has not been
overreaching to the house. We are not errand boys to the governor. The
important thing is that we have been working together as one family, that is
how things are at the moment. And if there is the need for us to disagree we
will disagree, but I can assure you that our disagreement will not lead to
confrontation, but the one that we will be able to reconcile and come with the
same goal and objective.
On the bill passed by the last assembly making the house
Let me first of all correct that impression, the
self-accounting law that was passed has been signed into law and it has since
become part of the laws of the state. The current packages that was sent to
members by the state Attorney-General includes the self-accounting laws which
has been signed to law by the governor. Now coming to the issue that it has not
been implemented, I won’t say so, may be it is the process. I think in
due time it will fully be implemented and this house could also be
self-accounting and not rely on the executive branch for all their expenses.