There is virtually no exception, all of us need these sweeping powers. And very urgently. In fact, there is no better time for it than now.
We are all in distress. We need every sweeping power to confront the crisis. We are in dire need of these powers to survive individually and collectively as a people.
We even want more than sweeping powers, we are actually rooting for enormous powers. We suspected it would come to that. That this unexpected would surely happen, someday, somehow.
And when it did happen, we suddenly realized we really need those sweeping powers. Some argued it is still in the realm of speculation. Some others believed it was leaked to test the (troubled) waters.
Whatever it is, it reflects the mindset of the Presidency. We cannot be taken unawares again. We have been alerted to avoid being alarmed. So that by the time the sweeping powers become a reality, we will be used to it.
The powers President Muhammadu Buhari was said to seek were quite immense and massive. If actually he wants those mighty powers, then we better consign the Constitution to the dustbin of history. We can as well dissolve the National Assembly and declare state of emergency.
What exactly does Buhari want? Oh, plenty and colossal. He plans to send Emergency Economical Stabilization Bill 2016 to the National Assembly when the senators and representatives return from their six-week vacation on September 12, 2016.
The bill is asking that the President be given wide and weird powers to do away with certain existing laws. He will then resort to the use of executive (absolute) orders (powers).
The bill believes these powers will enable Buhari “roll out an economic recovery package within the next one year.” That is their conviction. The bill is persuaded that without these sweeping powers, our economy may remain in the limbo forever. God forbid!
The bill was ambitious, ferocious, determined and resolute. It seeks powers to among others: “Abridge the procurement process to support stimulus spending on critical sectors of the economy;
“Make orders to favour local contractors/suppliers in contract awards;
“Abridge the process of sale or lease of government assets to generate revenue;
“Allow virement of budgetary allocation to projects that urgent, without going back to the National Assembly.”
These are perfect and brilliant intentions. And any sane person would naturally support those moves. But we are not blind to history. That is why some are genuinely skeptical. They do not pretend to forget Buhari’s military background and his exploits when he first held sway as Head of State. That was between December 31, 1983 and August 1985.
They are worried because they believe that Buhari is endowed with more than enough powers already that can successfully take us out of the woods. Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former governor of old Kaduna State in the Second Republic spoke our collective mind:
“The situation does not call for President Buhari having such powers. He has already enough powers under the Constitution to do any thing. The powers of the President under the Constitution are enormous.
“So, there is no emergency to warrant such powers. Whatever problem, the National Assembly can handle it. He should work with the National Assembly.”
But members of the President’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), see it differently. They choose to address it strictly from partisan point of view. Kabir Marafa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), certainly leads that pack:
“I will support anything from the Presidency. I am a party member. I will support anything from my party, my government and above all, it is in the interest of the country and economy.
“There is no Nigerian that will not support anything good for the country and the economy, regardless of his or her party.
“I am sure whatever the Executive arm wants to present must be in line with the extant laws. It cannot strip the National Assembly of its powers. Even if you want to do that, it will be null and void. That fear should not be exercised.”
Nigerians are afraid of abuse and misuse of powers. You cannot blame them, it happened in the recent past. Even the power of federal character, what use has Buhari made of it? Lopsidedness, of appointments in favour of the North. That is fearful.
That is their genuine fear. And they detest a cruel, crude repeat performance that is in the offing.
As a matter of fact, Buhari already has brooms in abundance to sweep the economy clean. He does not even need to ask anybody for permission. He could pick as many as his strength can carry.
He did it impressively during his electioneering. He carried the broom proudly with all the vigour in him across the country. He can apply the same zeal and passion this critical time around.
We pray that his toughness will not fail him.