Emergency Power for Buhari: Nigerians tell National Assembly to stand with Mr President

With the reality of harsh economic condition, many Nigerians believe President Muhammadu Buhari needs the support of the National Assembly for emergency power to lift the economy out of of the woods fast, as captured by The Nation's correspondence.

Despite explanation from the Vice President’s Office that the Bill to rescue the economy is still in the works, Nigerians yesterday continued to express their expectations of the bill.

Beyond throwing their weight behind the reform to revitalise the ailing economy by the Presidency, those who commented on the development urged National Assembly to treat the Bill with dispatch as soon as it gets to the chamber for scrutiny and passage.

Stakeholders in the economy told The Nation in separate chats that whatever Bill sent to the National Assembly for the purpose of empowering the president to stimulate the economy must be supported.

The stakeholders cut across sectors of the economy including the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), telecommunications, academia and agriculture.

However, some of the stakeholders spoke of the need to guard against abuse as granting the President a blank check may be counter-productive.

It’ll help budget implementation
Through its President, Ayuba Wabba, the NLC told The Nation that the organised labour is in full support of the proposal coming from President Buhari.

According to him, the workers’ umbrella body has seen areas where the President needs to take such action, pointing out that the executive requires such an executive power for the implementation of the budget.

He said: “As we all know that economy is in recession now, the government needs to do anything that will quickly get us out of it. Take for instance, for budget to be fully implemented; we need to support him because he needs our full support.

“Because the economy is in recession, we need something extraordinary to get out of it. If he thinks that is the best way out to move the economy forward, we should give him the leverage”, the labour leader said.

On the stand of some federal lawmakers to shoot down the Bill at the National Assembly, Wabba said “the President is not somebody that misuses power,” urging that “the President should be allowed to have his way.

“Mr President is not somebody that we don’t know. He is not somebody that misuses power. So therefore, they should allow him. We also want the National Assembly to have a dialogue with the President so as to move the economy forward.”

Economic blue print also key
To the General President of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, there is the need for the President to come out with more details on the request. Besides, he urged the President to come up with an economic blue print, adding that such power is within the President’s reach.

Ajaero said: “We want the President to articulate economic policies that will take us out from this recession. It is then we can say our view.”

Also commenting, President of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, said the President should be granted emergency power to deal with the economic crisis facing the country.

According to him, the economy needs a push to enhance Nigerians living standard, which he noted has fallen below average.

Emergency powers will stimulate economy
A Criminology teacher in the Sociology Department, Imo State University, Owerri, Dr. Dan Nkwocha, also threw his weight behind President Buhari’s proposal to seek emergency powers to stimulate the economy.

Describing the proposal as “a welcome development,” he said in view of the urgent need to halt the recession foisted on the economy and Nigerians by the crash in oil prices at the international market, the National Assembly should accede to the request in public interest.

The varsity don said: “Desperate situations require desperate measures. So, members of the National Assembly should be patriotic enough to grant the President the emergency powers to navigate the economy out of its current recession.

“Everybody knows that there is fire on the mountain and this requires urgent measures to stem the economic tide. I therefore appeal to the National Assembly to grant him the approval so that the economy can come out of the woods.”

Dr. Nkwocha told The Nation that the fact that the president made the request was a demonstration of respect for the rule of law and separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution.

“It means that he does not want to act arbitrarily; that the emergency powers he is asking for does not fall within the purview of the executive arm,” Nkwocha pointed out.

“Besides, the proposal, if approved, will contain some clauses to checkmate perceived excesses by the president,” he added.

The criminologist added that the President has made it clear that the emergency powers would be for a period of only 12 months.

A former Executive Director, Keystone Bank Limited, Richard Obire, said that Nigeria need speed to fix its challenging economy, urging the President against abusing the emergency power is garnted.

Obire recalled that former President Shehu Shagari sought and secured similar power, although his administration was cut short military intervention.

He said: “During the Shagari era, the economy was in dire straits. He sought and secured the power to deal with the issues challenging the economy at that time. He tried to use the emergency power before the government was toppled.”

But Obire believes that unlike in the 1980s, the world today is better advanced with thoughts better articulated.

Obire said: “If the President has the majority at the Senate and House of Representatives, he should take advantage of that opportunity to fix the economy.

“I think there is that dictatorial tendency on the side of this government, because the President has the tendency not to respect the rule of law.”

According to him, the President should be monitored to guard against abuse and that such power should be withdrawn once misused.