Today the senate read for the first time a Bill for an Act to provide for the inauguration of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, also known as Presidential Inauguration Bill, 2016.
Basically this bill which is sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, seeks to copy processes around inauguration in the United States of America. It wants the inauguration of the President and the Vice President to be moved from the Eagles Square to the arcade of the National Assembly “where the people are represented.” In America, the inauguration of the president and VP is done at the US Capitol – the seat of the US Congress.
The bill also provides for the setting up of a Presidential Inauguration Committee, which shall consist of a serving member of the National Assembly as Chairman, six members drawn from the Legislature, two from the Executive, two from the Judiciary, and two from the Civil Society. In the United States the swearing-in ceremony is organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Ekweremadu’s bill also provides in Section 7 for a procession with the President, while former Presidents, former Heads of State, former Heads of Federal Government, former Vice Presidents, former Senate Presidents, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, and former Chief Justices of the Federation, follow. In America, after swearing-in, there is usually a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Remember that Ekweremadu also sponsored a State of the Nation Address Bill sponsored by Senator Ekweremadu and passed by the 7th National Assembly which was not accented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan. The STtae of the Union Address is a staple in US politics.
To be clear, all these are possibly good proposals and bills. They ought to be debated on their merits and the president will decide if he wants to accent or not based on advice. The national assembly, of course, will retain its power to veto in the event that the president refuses to sign.
However, it’s also important to point out that Ekweremadu never thinks it is important to copy aspects of US government and governance that have to do with openness and transparency in national assembly where he currently serves as deputy senate president.
For several years, Nigerians have been asking the national assembly to open up its budget so that citizens can see how much lawmakers earn and what line items are prioritised in the assembly budget. That’s how it is in the United States and other democracies we claim to emulate. The current senate president and speaker, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, both made promises to #OpenNASS but have disregarded their words in characteristic fashion.
Ekweremadu has been silent on this matter. His knowledge of US politics doesn’t extend to issues around his pocket.
In August 2015 when the issue of pay cut for lawmakers and #OpenNASS came up on the senate, all of them went into a closed door session and resolved to step it down for “further legislative input.” 15 months later, they are probably still inputing because we have not heard anything else from them. Not from Saraki, not from the ‘commonsense’ Ben Bruce, not from the abusive Dino Melaye. And certainly not from Ike Ekweremadu.
But, presidential inauguration time… Hail America.