Separation Of Powers


Separation of powers is a fundamental principle, whereby powers and responsibilities are divided among the legislative executive and judicial arm of government. In this system of government, none of the three arms is expected to control or interfere with the other. It is designed to allow proper balance in power, checks and disallow absolute power. But in Nigeria, the three branches are not completely sealed off from each other.
There is no complete and total separation of powers. The president or governor shares the law making powers of the legislature by virtue of the constitutional provisions for presidential or governor’s assent to bills before they became laws.  (see S.58(1) and S.100(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended). This is a clear indication that the Nigerian constitution does not advocate for total separation of powers.
A complete separation of powers is neither practicable nor desirable for effective government. But rather, checks and balances which is a necessary component of institution building.
Government should therefore respect the provisions of the constitution on the separation of powers and checks and balances. The ideal situation is for these arms of government to check the excesses of one another.
When one makes law, the other one executes them and the third interpretes the laws. There is a clear division of functions and that is why each of them jealously guides its own turf and ensures no one encroaches thereof. A good example of checks for balancing sakie is one which occurred few months back, when the executive requested  for $30 billion loan to help keep the economy running but after the Senate interrogated the request, all that was needed was just $1.5 billion, which was thin granted. That’s a commendable check for balancing sake. The Senate does not have to do the bidding of the executive.
The flouting of court orders by the executive makes one wonder if there can truly be an effective practice of separation of power in Nigeria. History keeps repeating itself in this light. During the military regime M.K.O Abiola, of blessed memory, suffered the same plight. The court order made on his behalf was never obeyed until he died. In 2004, the Chris Ngige’s case, when the Court of Appeal, Enugu division, made an order to preserve the res and maintain the status quo ante bellum. And the then IGP, an agent of the executive (Mr Tafa Balogun, a lawyer who pledged to maintain the rule of law), flouted the order of the court. Things have not fared better in this present democratic dispensation either. Several court orders have been flouted by the executive through the DSS, EFCC and the likes of them. The flouting of court orders by the executive is indeed a derogation from the principle of separation of power.
The dictatorial tendencies that characterise some of the executive fiats and policies within the present Nigeria polity, speak volume of the non-adherence to the doctrine of separation of power as stipulated in our grund norm. Life is worth nothing, from Operation Python Dance (season 1×2) of the South East, to Operation Crocodile Smile of the Niger Delta. The present government has a lot of questions to answer.