The Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu has warned political leaders in the country, particularly those occupying executive positions, against joking with Nigeria’s hard-won democracy, stressing that military coup is still possible.
He called on the international community to help end the highhandedness and misuse of institutions by some persons in the country, vowing that the National Assembly would never be intimidated or relent in defending the principles of democracy.
Ekeweremadu stated this on Wednesday, while contributing to a debate on a motion sponsored by the senator representing Kogi Central, Ahmed Ogembe.
Ogembe had alleged that Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, sponsored thugs to disrupt an empowerment programme he organised for his constituents.
A visibly angry Ekweremadu stated that such incidents shows that efforts must be made to protect the country’s democracy.
He cited several instances where federal lawmakers have been harassed, warning that democracy must not be turned into a joke.
The Deputy Senate President categorically told the Governor of Kogi State that “the road he is travelling will not lead him anywhere.”
Recalling his earlier advice last year that the Kogi State Government should not waste state resources on Senator Melaye’s recall project, Ekweremadu advised Governor Bello to embrace democratic cultures.
He said, “You will recall that sometime last year when they wanted to recall Dino I advised the governor that they are wasting the resources of that state, that it is mission impossible.
“They took three pages in the newspaper abusing me. Are we still hearing the recall today? Money has been wasted. Money that has been used to pay salaries of people in Kogi state was used to mobilise people to recall senator Dino yet those people have not been paid and Dino is still here.
“So today I am advising the governor again, that road he is travelling will not lead him to anywhere. Ultimately, these people he is seeing here will be back here and he will leave office.
“If he doesn’t stop, there is no how he will come back in 2019, never, no he will not. God will show him that he is a God of justice and this is a message to all those people who have caused all kinds of problem in Nigeria at different level. The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over, let us not joke with our democracy that is the issue”.
Ekeweremadu further decried Nigeria’s fast-waning democratic credentials and international influence even within the West African sub-region, where she used to be dominant.
His words: “The problem in Nigeria now is that our democracy is receding and the international community needs to know this. Let us not joke with our democracy the way they are going.
“Last two weeks, we were talking about how Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi’s house was destroyed in Kaduna State. Recently, we were talking about how Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso was stopped from going to his state. We saw people carrying clubs, waiting for him at the airport. We were talking about how security operatives laid siege on Senator Dino Melaye.
“In Kaduna, Senator Shehu Sani cannot organise a meeting and we say we are practicing democracy. People are holding meetings everyday on how to continue to deal with each and every one of us here (in the Senate).
“The international community needs to know this because they helped us to restore our democracy and some gang of people are trying to truncate the entire democracy. I want to appeal that we take this matter seriously. It is not about us; it is about our democracy; it is about our country”.
The Deputy Senate President however encouraged his colleagues to remain steadfast and one-minded in pursuing the cause of saving the nation’s democracy.
“The only institution left to save our democracy; to save our nation is the National Assembly and we will never shy away from that responsibility no matter the oppression, no matter the intimidation. Men will do whatever they want to do, but God will ultimately have the final say”, he emphasised.
On his part, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki asserted that Nigeria’s democracy ought to be a good example to other countries.
According to him, “this is not what democracy is all about. For the role we play in the comity of nations we need to be good examples to other parts of the world.
“These kind of actions are unacceptable, it starts with one state – many of us have been privileged to be governors and we are almost 20 years in democracy, this is not the democracy that we should be talking about. We saw the case in Kaduna state, how a governor would go and bulldoze a house, in Nigeria? At this time and we are all still keeping quiet. These are things we must condemn totally.”
Meanwhile, the Senate unanimously condemned in totality and strongest terms, the destruction and violence visited on the Senator’s empowerment programme, allegedly, describing it as a threat to the nation’s democracy.
The upper legislative chamber
also resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the incident, including the alleged involvement of the police in the mayhem.