THE REALITY OF SEPARATION OF POWERS IN PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION

THE REALITY OF SEPARATION OF POWERS IN PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

There is no gainsaying the fact that the famous doctrine or principle of separation of powers is as old as man, what we are saying in essence is that, separation of powers has been in existence since man came to the society. It is apposite to state that the doctrine of separation of powers was in existence arid strictly observed in this country before the advent of the British. This foregoing position can be demonstrated when a recourse is made to the old Oyo empire, where there were in existence the Alarm, Oyo Mesi, the Ogboni among other traditional title holders who took charge of the administration of the said empire. There was a manifest undoubted separation of powers between the Alafin who was the head, the Oyo Mesi, and the Ogboni, this brought about the necessary checks and balances, so that power is not concentrated in the hands of the Alafin, which is capable of being misused or abused.

The doctrine of separation of powers as practiced by the then Oyo- empire was premised on the YORUBA Adage which say that:

(I)        Agbajowo Lafi nsoya, ajeje owo kan ko gberu don. (ii) Akil fee mefi Laba Alade — eni fojesu koni mumi. (iii) Enikan kiije awade, Igi kan kole da igbo Se.

Meaning that, no man is an island to himself and cannot be all in all. The point we are trying to drive home is that, the principle of separation of Powers is not strange to the African society and therefore, the principle cannot be said to be imbibed or imported from the white man but in its formalized theoretical notion it is an imported value into our body polity.

The significance of good governance in any given nation cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the essence of governance is to ensure the development of every sector of the national entity. To this end, every emerging and successive government formulates policies in order to reform the political, economic, cultural and social structures. Irrespective of reformed policies, they are primarily intended to ensure the uplift of the societies in all ramifications-education, health, transportation, etc. Hence, considering the significance and how vital reform policies are made, they attempt to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of a particular country as instituted by existing government.

The military regime did not help matters when it postponed severally the return to civilian rule in Nigeria. Many people were of the view that the worst civilian administration is better than enlightened military dictatorship.[1]

From the 1960s, when Nigeria gained her independence, development plans of varying durations were launched. The Nigerian leaders were aware that political independence without economic independence would endanger the country’s sovereignty. Hence, they were out to protect this hard won sovereignty as well as give their people the best. The major initiative and plans fell on governments for national economic and social development.[2]

According to Otese Simon, the economic situation of the country prior to Buhari’s administration, could be said to be a period when the political leaders of newly won independence sought to consolidate their hold on power, and not actually doing the peoples biddings. It was a period of scramble for power and political positions at the expense of the nation’s real economic needs.

By any yardstick, military rule was a monumental disaster for Nigeria. Despite the country’s huge endowments in human and material resources, Nigeria under military rule had all the classic features of a failed state. Infrastructure such as schools, roads, and hospitals were barely functioning. In view of the sordid record of military rule, there was a widespread expectation in the country on the eve of the military’s departure from politics that the elected civilian administrators would set to work immediately to improve the living standards of the people.

From 1983 when General Muhammed Buhari toppled the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari to the era of General Sani Abacha, the economic situation of the country was bad.[3] The apparent improvement during this period was made worse by the Structural Adjustment Programme of the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida administration. As if these were not enough, the national currency was devalued; thereby causing further worsening socio-economic condition in the country.[4] All the sectors of the nation’s economic activities were jeopardized. This ranged from the health, education, transportation to other sectors of the economy.

The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was embarked upon due to series of global economic disasters during the late 1970s, the oil crisis, debt crisis, multiple economic depressions and stagnation. The Structural Adjustment Programme favoured reduction of trade barriers and free market. The programme included internal changes such as privatization and deregulation, as well as external ones, especially the reduction of trade barriers. Since the late 1990s, the term “Structural Adjustment” has emphasized “poverty reduction”. The SAP was controversial and the critics emphasized that it created hardship for workers and the poorer classes.

In specific terms, Nigerians expected that the termination of military rule would lead to a drastic reduction in corruption, criminal and wanton violations of human rights. Nigerians also hoped that the termination of military rule would put an end to the divide and rule tactics which had become the hallmark of military administrations. It was hoped that a civilian government had would be ushered in and bring an end to such tactics, ethnic and communal violence, which had claimed so many lives. It was believed that a civilian administration was expected to lead to a better management of the nation’s resources and with good governance, unemployment, insecurity and criminality would be reduced.

After a comprehensive study of all aspects of Nigerian society, a Bureau was set up in 1986, and submitted its report on March 1985.[5] The third part of the report was mainly concerned with the programme of transition to civil rule. It noted that for a transition to civil rule to be successful, there was need to democratize all the process and institution of government. It called for a broadly spaced transition in which democratic government can proceed with political learning, institutional adjustment and a re-orientation of political culture at sequential levels of politics and government beginning with local government and ending at the federal level.[6]

Assuming office in , as an elected President, following the handover of power by General Abdusalami Abubakar, President  Buhariembarked on policy formulation and implementation in order to redress the dilapidated economic condition in Nigeria. These policies were seen in his effort to curb corruption, by the inauguration of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2003. Reforms were also carried out on other aspects such as electricity, transportation, agriculture, infrastructures etc.

The economic reforms of Buhari were intended to transform the Nigerian society, compared to what existed before his election in 2015. It is to these reforms in economic policies that this study addresses. were on the credit side of that regime and the reality of the separation of powers in the President Buhari’s administration

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

When President Buharicame to power in , the government stated its desire to bring about “democratic dividends” through responsive participatory, transparent and accountable government. Many believed that democracy was going to immediately cure all of the ills of Nigeria, bring about security, stability and re-launch the nation on the path of substantial economic development.

The contradictions which have arisen from democratic transitions and processes of democratization have led to increased questioning of the relevance of the prevailing models and institutions of democracy to the reality of contemporary Nigerian political and economic development. Many have come to believe that the democratic administration of Buharifailed to redress the economic power of the average Nigerian. For example, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, asserted “three and a half years of elected civilian rule have created a big disillusionment to virtually all those who had staked high hope on democracy as the panacea for our national woes, and socio-economic predicament”.[7] Some have also opined that the regime was corrupt, leaving Nigeria both in economic and political uncertainty.

Although some of these claims may be disputable, it is necessary to examine historically and dispassionately how the regime of Buhariaided the economic growth and development of Nigeria, through his economic reforms.

1.3       PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study is to analyse the reality of separation of powers in President Buhari’s administration.  Furtherance to this, there was some reforms which the administration initiated that were thought to have been of great urgency and importance to the country, but which have evoked criticisms. To this effect, the work examined them, in order to see the extent they had gone in contributing to the economic development of the country at large or otherwise.

1.4       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The coming into power by President Buhari as an elected president gave a lot of hope to many Nigerians. The president promised the people that his government would give Nigeria the Change she neede, hence, the Change Mantra’s evolution, to be a people oriented and participatory government that would be beneficial to the people. This work attempts to provide insights into the reality of separation of powers in President Buhari’s administration. The study will also stimulate more research in this area of study. The outcome of this work will help present and future politicians, economic policy planners and others.

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The time-span of this study is 2015 till date. The choice of 2015 as the beginning of the rule of President Buhari. The research project will analyse to see the reality separation of powers in President Buhari’s administration based on his major policy reforms and idecisions within his tenure.

1.6       LITERATURE REVIEW

At present, it appears, very limited work has been devoted to the study of the reality of separation of power in President Buhari’s administration. The materials sieved out for this work, are in bits and pieces. Most of them have been written on the general social, political and economic dispensation of the Buhari administration.

Democracy has been given a wide extensive attention from the academic circles, and hence has received varied definitions.  Buhariand Akin Mabogunje, conceptualize democracy, like all human interaction and relationship, must not be taken for granted. It must be nurtured and sustained. The establishment, growth and sustenance of democracy with its complement of protection of human rights have never been without struggle, sweat and blood throughout history.[8] they also stated that democratic state operates in such a manner as to guarantee individual liberties through the observance of separation of powers.

Kayode Fayemi and Otive Igbuzor have abiding belief that no democracy survives around abject poverty and unremitted hopelessness among the citizenry.[9] They also hold the belief that poverty itself is potential violence, the cure of which democratic governance remains a critical component. Their work also analyses New Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) as a framework for tackling the deepening crisis of poverty.

Any system of government that is hinged on the Rule of law and Democracy and especially the presidential system of government as practiced in Nigeria must consist of the three great arms of government,: namely, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. As rightly pointed out by Aihe in his book1 that such a division of labour is a condition precedent to the supremacy of the Rule of Law in any society.

The principle of separation of powers as it is known today was propounded by Montesquieu who derived his inspiration from Locke’s writings and the study of the eighteenth century English constitution. The basis of the principle of separation of powers was given by Locke in his second Treatise of Civil Government as follows:-

“It may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons who have the power of making laws, to have also in their - hand the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they made and suit the law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage.”

In the same vein, Montesquieu postulated that

“Political Liberty is be found only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows every man invested with power is Iiable to abuse it, and carry his authol’4’ as far as it will go. To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the nature of things that one power should be a check on another.... when the legislative and Executive powers are united in the same person or body there can be no Again there is no liberty if the judicial power is not separated from the legislative and executive. There would be an end of everything if the same person or body, whether of the nobles or the people, were to exercise all the three powers.”[10]

It is worthy of note that the principle of separation of powers was not in operation in his country France at that time, even up till today the executive and legislative functions are concentrated in the hands of the same group of people in France.

However, the American constitution practicalised the theory of separation of powers. In other words, it was fully adopted in the United States of America. This is in contradistinction with the British constitution where there is no such clear cut separation of powers.

A renowned Nigerian constitutional lawyer Professor Nwabueze while emphasising the importance of the principle of separation of powers says:

“Concentration of governmental powers in the hands of one individual is the very definition of dictatorship end absolute power is by its very nature arbitrary, capricious and despotic Limited government demands therefore that the organization of government should based on some concept of structure, whereby the functions of law-makings, execution and adjudication are vested In separate agencies, operating with separate personnel and procedure. We are not prepared, write Vile, ‘to accept that government can become, on the ground of “efficiency”, or for any other reason, a single undifferentiated monolithic structure, nor can we assume that government can be allowed to become simply an accidental agglomeration of purely pragmatic relationships.... By separating the function of execution from that of the law-making, by insisting that every executive action must, in so far at any rate as it affects an individual, have the authority of some law, and by prescribing a different procedure for law making the arbitrariness of executive action can be effectively checked.”[11]

Therefore, in the light of the above, separation of powers can be succinctly put mean, the exercise of three distinct functions of government by the three arms same without undue meddlesomeness and/or unnecessary interference in the affairs of another in order to ensure the desired checks and balances government

1.7       METHODOLOGY

The work cuts across various other disciplines such as political science, public administration, among others. Thus, using inter-disciplinary approach, the study draws from the data supplied by other disciplines such as public administration. Going by the nature of the subject area under study, one will discover that it is relatively contemporary. Effort is being made, despite limitations of accessibility, to critically analyse and bring to the fore perspectives and issues relevant to the study.[12] In methodology both chronological and thematic approaches were adopted for the general framework. For this study, primary sources such as oral interviews and government gazettes have been used. Secondary sources of information such as books, journals, newspapers, magazines, seminar and conference papers which are relevant to this study, have been consulted.





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