PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGEMENT AND THE SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: A SURVEY OF THE DYNAMICS OF EXECUTIVE – LEGISLATIVE RELATIONS

PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGEMENT AND THE SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: A SURVEY OF THE DYNAMICS OF EXECUTIVE – LEGISLATIVE RELATIONS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

In the wake of political independence in 196os, the indigenous political leaders sought to institute a responsible and people –based government different from the ruler-ship and traditional institutions which existed before the colonial era. The independence constitution being the second schedule to Nigeria independence Act 1960 passed by the British parliament transferred power from an appointed Governor General of the Federation and Governors of the regions to a Federal Prime Minister (with his cabinet) and to Regional Premiers (with his cabinet)

Also, the constitution was not radically different in nature from its predecessor, the 1954 constitution which transformed Nigeria into a federation from unitary formation and in which the Queen of England continued to be the Head in Nigeria as represented by the Governor – General irrespective of whether he was British or Nigerian. Under the 1957 constitution, at the executive level, it provided for appointment of a premier from among the members of the legislative Houses for the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions, while the Governor-General was being appointed as it was equally done in 1960.

However, the 1963 constitution of the Federation of Nigeria which came into force on 1st October 1963 (three years after independence


and referred to for short, as “Republican Constitution”, established the office of a (ceremonial) president of the federal republic which took over from the Queen, acting through her representative, the Governor-General, as the Nigeria Head of State and Commander -in- chief of the armed forces of the federation pursuant to 5.4(3) of the 1960 constitution.

Actually, the head of government then was the prime minister and at the same time, the president was not exactly and directly connected with the executive powers. Notably, the three arms, the president (or Governor-General), the legislature and the executive in that order were segregated in separate chapters in the 1960 and 1963 constitution. In this regard, both the independence constitution of the 1960 and Republican Constitution of 1963 provided for a Westminster type of legislature in which, in addition to elected representatives, the members of the executive branch of government were also members of the legislature.

The inability of the political leaders to exert influence over one another manifested in the manner in which crisis such as the 1964 Federal election crisis, the 1963 census crisis, the on shore and off shore dichotomy debacle and the iron and steel industry were all managed. It was also revealed in other disagreements, which include the struggle over revenue allocation, constitutional amendments, and impeachments of the fourth republic senate presidents Hon Chief Evans Enwerem of the blessed memory, to late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo etc. Plus other issues like the third term elongation of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo that lead or would have lead to the collapse of the government.

While the politicians could not realize that need to reconcile their differences using communication advocacy, it became impossible transforming emerging and pending conflicts into problem- solving situations. Even now the exact cause for the collapse of the first regime remains uncertain. However, an observer and scholar have been able to capture the situation in the following manner thus:

“The contradictions generated by autocratic rule during the first republic coupled with fear that democratic political change was not possible created the conditions for the collapse of the regime and the entry of the military. Politics is a collective activity and democratic politics are based upon the widest level of discussions, consultations, mobilization and propaganda. These activities enable change of positions and views reflecting popular opinion for political groups concerned. There can be no movement towards a democratic political system without mobilization, political propaganda and political meeting”. (Braham 1986:208)


The indication is that the condition upon which democratic leadership would give meaning and purpose to communication and motivation have not been achieved.

The idea that political leadership in the country has displayed a lacking understanding that governance depends on human qualities and the ability to appeal in any communication situation came up again in another dispensation. In the second republic, the monarch’s formal powers inherent in governance was further shared largely among the three policy-making organs viz. the executives, the legislature, and the judiciary for the first time in the country. The change occasioned by mere focus on structural difference was hinged on the assumption that “the choice of presidential system itself reflected the difficulties encountered with the loose parliamentary system in the 1960s which was believed to have contributed to the collapse of the first republic” this symbolizes that no consideration was given to the leadership behavioural patterns of the individuals who constituted the political leadership.

The fact remains that the presidential system as well witnessed considerable degree of wrangling and political manipulations which rendered it impotent and ineffective at the first republic. Several attempts have been made by scholars to probe into the remote causes of failure of democratic regimes in Nigeria, in this regard; another observer of the second republic declares that:

“The ineffectiveness and alienation of Shagaris administration forced

a military coup on 31st December, 1983. The scale of adjustment which would have the intended effect, required a much more disciplined regime. Notwithstanding its general authoritarian orientation, Shagaris administration had shown a clear incapacity to provide political leadership. Furthermore, the near defactor one party rule did not silence the growing popular opposition. The military solution therefore became imperative to save the system from mass riots, prolonged uncertainty and stagnation (Bangura 1986:23).

The fact here remains that just like military leaders; civilians in power are also yet to realize that command has limited utility. Upon this, it is therefore, becoming increasingly clear that the choices being offered are between different forms of autocracy rather than between autocracy and democracy.

The coupists who took over the second republic expressed their dissatisfaction in a way in the absence of influential leadership. In the maiden speech, after the second republic was truncated through a military coup.

In 31st December, 1983, where major General Buhari who explains reasons for the take-over despite the expressed provision in S.2(1) outlawing unconstitutional change of government says:


“The political leadership of the second Republic circumvented most of the checks and balances in the constitution and brings us to the present state of general insecurity. The premium on political contestants regarded victory at elections a matter of life and death struggle and were determined to capture or retain power by all means (Daily times 2nd January, 1984);.

The implication here is that apart from the fact that the president violated the rules governing the system, his needs also could no longer tolerate bargaining with the National Assembly, neither did he appreciate any more, the lead each other to voluntary action.

In the present fourth republic which after the aborted third republic and several years of military rule, the high-level of autocracy and disagreements is repeating and cycling itself. The system of government, which is again modelled after both the second and the third republic has faced severe difficulties arising from the inability of the executives and legislative arms to co- exit and manage their interactions which the benefits of separation of powers.

The basic challenge before the president and the legislators is therefore to utilize the opportunities and benefits arising from the clear distinction between them to institute long-range social values and goals which can instil democratic stability in the system. Against the crisis that may crop up, the leaders of the two branches of government are expected to make use of public relations techniques in cropping with them while putting in place the required consultation and dialogue in order to take the problems posed by change and continuity.

Indeed, there is clear evidence that both branches of government cannot achieve a proper means of avoiding destructive forms of disagreements which yield frustrations among key officers, thereby affecting their performance and this is evidenced during the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo`s lead legislature, chief Pius Anyim Pius and equally highly manifested in Chief Ken Nnamanis legislative era. Its only time will tell in senator David Marks (though he was being accused of 3 million naira scandal) Present Period whether there will be no love lost with the executive or not for this reason, the researcher, in tends to find out by what means public relations management act as a panacea for creating mutual understanding between the executive and legislative organs of government in order to safeguard the dangling democracy.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

While making a case for presidential system, an author as earlier identified confirms that one of the benefits of a presidential system is that it makes for a cheaper separation of powers than other forms of democratic government and thereby discourages dictatorship of government, political party or individual. This means that conflict is


accepted and managed through the use of human communication as a

means of mediating with environment. Government under this system is expected to operate as an expression of national unity and also to create the unity, which should sustain it by turning integrative action. In the present fourth republic process has been inflicted with crises of dysfunctional nature such as those which characterized the year 2000 Appropriation Bill, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Bill, the incessant undemocratic impeachment of some leaders of the three arms of government, the present debacle of the speaker of the house of representative (Mrs. Patricia Etteh) and other disagreements leading to discriminations at the national level.

While most opinion writers believe that the National Assembly is becoming a rubber stamp of the president (even though the leadership of chief Ken Nnamani proved otherwise) just as it was seen to have been in the second republic, the fact remains that often times, the conflicts which occurs in the first phase of the fourth republic did attract president prefers to have his way without opposition.

The application of public relations strategies in the conduct of government would ensure that the leadership should be advised on the probable public effect of a given action, decision or policy. And that also the organization is in turn informed about trends in public opinion apart from just way to communicate polices and actions to special groups or the public at large.

It is on this ground that the following problems are to be addressed in the study viz:


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