When democracy was first put into practice at Athens in Greece, the proponents wanted to set a new world order and give evenly representation to the common people. The people should matter, they hold the majority, they must have thought.
Power was too centralized in the hands of few elites, there was a need to chart a new course to represent the interest of the majority, democracy became the option. Though it recorded a major flaw in its earliest application with the execution of Aristotle when the majority voted under ignorance against reason, it is very apt to say democracy has evolved into the pride of all in the last century.
French Baron De Montesquieu must have seen into the future when he propounded the theory of separation of power to make each arm of a democratic government independent and accountable to the supremacy of the law, the constitution and the people. Failure in which could lead to abuse, excessive use and usurpation of democratic power.
We need to also understand from the true meaning of democracy and the separation of power that democracy is a representation of the will and wish of the majority of people from the innermost parts of the nation and by the principle of separation of power, none of the three arms of government should be subjected to the influence of another, the executive, legislature and judiciary should survive and carry out duties as independent entity. This is why recent and consistent overbearing influence of the executive on the two other arms should bother all lovers of democracy.
In the last three years, the judiciary and legislature have come under severe attacks and demonising by the executive. We witnessed how security agencies raided homes of judges, in what looked like a bid to coerce them into silence. The legislature has been subjected to same treatment in what also looks like an attempt to make it a rubber stamp, laying a dangerous foundation for democracy.
When the parliament fails or is endangered, the people who elected them – the constituents, bear the major brunt. It means all hope of having a voice would be lost.
An attack on the parliament in a democracy is a direct attack on the people who have elected them through a democratic voting process to represent their interest. While the executive cannot be totally said to represent the wish of all, the parliament is a total representation of the people’s will and desire, thus, the people themselves are the voice behind whatever their representatives say, either a senator or a House of Representatives member, hence the need for regular engagement of representatives by the people.
At this critical juncture in the history of the Nigerian democracy, when incompetence and tyranny seem to be reigning supreme in all annals of the state, the people who have chosen their representatives must rally round those who have distinguished themselves as defenders of democracy who have stood against tyranny.
The present illegality and democratic rape and several coup attempts on the National Assembly should not be seen as a matter of who is involved, it is about the institution that has served and still serving the interest of the majority. We must not forget the role this arm played when former President Olusegun Obasanjo sought to retain power by all means with the third term bill. We cannot also forget in a hurry the role the institution played when some cabals sought to take advantage of the ailment of late President Umar Yar’Adua to hijack power thereby pushing the man who should be acting aside, again the NASS stepped in and prevented the illegality.
In the last three years of this present 8th NASS, so many illegalities have been prevented, many of which have not really gone down well with the executive arm. Uncovering of alleged corruption in NNPC, the Nigeria Police Force with the IGP as major player, to Kenton but few among many others in government agencies and institutions.
It is on public record that none among the past NASS had been severely subjected to attacks and disregard by agents of the state like the present Senate, yet it is surviving, probably because those at the helm of affairs at the present NASS do not hold the notion that their representation is solely about themselves, but see themselves as custodians of the people’s will and defenders of the people’s commonwealth.
Whichever side of the coin we belong, we must not only condemn shenanigans and illegality when it does not favour us, legality is not a matter of fair-weather, it must be legal at all times notwithstanding who is involved. We saw it and condemned it when the judiciary was at the receiving end of the illegality, with the invasion of their homes in a Gestapo form by agents of the State Security Service (SSS) at midnight. Now that it is wearing another toga against the NASS, we must not suddenly become Janus-faced and go silent while those who never appreciated democracy but now profess to be repentant democrats, set bad precedence for our hard-earned democracy.
Those of us who have taken it as a patriotic duty to always stand against illegality would not stop to appraise the present leadership of the National Assembly for always standing, in the face of tyranny and impunity, to save Nigeria’s nascent democracy before it is truncated again by uniform men in agbada. The defenders of our democratic institutions deserve full support at this trying times against excesses and abuse that could jeopardise the effort of the past struggle for democracy and the promising future.
Adeniyi wrote in from Abuja
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