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A new page may have been opened in senate-executive relations after months of poor engagements following the circumstances surrounding the emergence of the Senate leadership.
For the third time in one week, President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, a clear departure from what obtained in the past 18 months when he reportedly declined at several times to personally engage the Senate President or the senate leadership on issues of governance, reports Thisday Newspaper.
Saraki had emerged Senate President after defeating his party, All Progressives Congress’ preferred candidate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan. His party was further irked by the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator, as his deputy.
Since their emergence on June 9, 2015, there had been limited engagements between President Buhari and Saraki and the senate leadership – a development that has had significant impacts on senate’s approval of presidential requests.
In the immediate past administration, the presidency was well aware that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, needed to be properly engaged because a number of government activities such as confirmation of appointments must secure the nod of senators. But President Buhari, because of the intra-party dispute that trailed the election of the Senate leadership and partly because of the fact that he had all of his early requests granted by the Senate, took such engagement with a pinch of salt,.

Analysts believe that the erroneous assumption that the executive and the senate could carry on with their constitutional duties without serious engagement may have been fueled by Senate’s decision to clear the list of all the ministerial nominees sent to it by the president in October last year without any serious engagement with the senators.
Even in spite of the opposition from the PDP senators to the confirmation of former Governor of Rivers State, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the APC senators still maximised the opportunity of their slim majority to outwit their PDP counterparts and ensured that Ameachi was confirmed.
Besides, Saraki also used his power of the gavel to overturn senators’ voice vote against the confirmation of Alhaji Lai Mohammed at the time as it was obvious that majority of the senators voted against his confirmation as minister. This, analysts believed might have given the president the impression that he could always have his way on any request sent to the Senate.

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