By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Prince Adetunji Orisalade, a lawyer of over 25 years is the Deputy Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly. Orisalade, a former Chairman, Lagos State Valuation Court in Badagry division between 1995-2000 in this interview spoke on the state of the nation, arguing that President Goodluck Jonathan did not carry Nigerians along before the increase in the pump price of fuel. He also condemned the spate of insecurity in the nation, especially the attacks by Boko Haram sect which has claimed several lives and property in recent times. He said President Jonathan does not need to brief the National Assembly before declaring State of emergency in any part of the country. Excerpts: How would you respond to the argument that the deregulation program embarked upon by the Federal Government was so hasty and ill-timed, especially when majority opinions believe that it should be in phases? First and foremost, I want to say that the Federal Government committed a great blunder on the way it had acted on the subsidy issue. It did not appreciated Nigerians at all. It is not in doubt that we are now in a democratic setting with an elected President in place. One would have thought that higher sense would dictate a rule via massive consultations across board on such sensitive issue. Nigerians, in the face of several deprivations and sufferings have continued to follow and obey their Leaders, without much ado. The arbitrary increase in fuel price and the strike action that followed had changed the Nigeria’s political and economic climate. How do you think the nation can survive its diverse challenges on fuel deregulation, kidnapping and terrorism? Thank God the tension had eased out a bit with the suspension of street protests and eventual call-off of the strike. There would have been massive unrest all over the country and I saw those participating in the action as fully ready to dare the security agents. The aftermath would have been colossal loss of lives and properties across the country. But I must tell you Nigerians are not happy even up till now and they see the Labour leaders as been compromised and manipulated out of the struggle. Appropriate agencies
I still expect the President to apologise to Nigerians over the iron-fist rule he exuded and thereafter direct the appropriate agencies on the mass enlightenment of Nigerians on the Government’s intention. The assumption was that a germane issue like the removal of fuel subsidy ought to receive the blessing of the National Assembly before its implementation by the Federal Government, especially when the lawmakers expressed reservations over the issue. As a lawyer and lawmaker, don’t you think Mr. President went too far in his action? I agree the removal of fuel subsidy is a germane issue that ordinarily, a listening and caring President ought to consult widely. But you see from the legal point of view, he is not under any restraint should he decides not to consult. The withdrawal of subsidy is purely an economic issue that the National Assembly has no power to decide upon, though it can advise, as did the Federal House of Representatives. It is a matter purely within the Executive prerogative as encapsulated in Section 16(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). The Section provides thus: “The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring (a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development; (b)that the material resources of the Nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.” So one can not really say he went a bit far with the Constitution in mind. But respect begets respect,he ought to have consulted with the National Assembly at least as the peoples Representatives.” The menace of Boko Haram and kidnapping have been a source of...