By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—SENATE President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, said no amount of intimidation from the executive arm of government will make the National Assembly abandon its core mandate.
Their position came as protesters under the aegis of Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, besieged the National Assembly, yesterday, not only to support the National Assembly over some key decisions it had taken in recent times but to also register their grievances against alleged attempts by the executive arm of government to undermine the legislature.
The duo said the legislature would continue to focus on its constitutional responsibilities even in the face of external interference by those in the executive arm of government, who they noted, have tried to undermine its functions.
Both spoke through their representatives, senators Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos Central), Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East) and Abdufatai Buhari (APC, Oyo North), who addressed thousands of protesters who stormed the legislature to protest what they termed as “government unwanted efforts to undermine the institution of the legislature.”
Senator Adeola, who spoke on behalf of the delegation sent by the leadership of the entire National Assembly to address the teeming protesters, tasked Nigerians to believe in the legislature, saying it was firmed in its resolve to ensure Nigerians get their fair share of democratic dividends.
He said, “Let me stand on behalf of the leadership of the National Assembly under Senator Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to thank the people of this country for coming out in their numbers like this to say no to killing of the legislature.
“Like you have rightly said, the legislature remains the symbol of democracy. If by tomorrow, there’s an institution of democracy that needs to be shut down, to say there’s no more democracy in Nigeria, it is the legislature, because we remain the voice of the people, we remain the representatives of the people, and we are the spokespersons of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Today, as far as the Federal Republic of Nigeria is concerned, the governance of this country rests squarely on the 469 legislators and the president and the vice president.”
Speaking earlier, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, co-convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, which mobilised the protest, said they were concerned over unfolding development regarding the relationship between the executive and the legislature.
He said that the protest was meant to draw the attention of the world to the continued efforts by the executive arm of government to undermine the legislature. Every other person is either the appointee or an agent of any arm of the government.
“We have listened to all that have been said, that there’s no to killing of the legislature. I want to tell you that there’s no way and nobody, I repeat, that can kill the legislature. The move you have taken this morning (yesterday) is a right step in the right direction. I’m saying this because if anything goes wrong with this country, we are the ones that will be held responsible. And as we are the ones that could be held responsible, we must be able to stand tall against any issue, against anything that will happen as far as this country is concerned.
“And the business of good governance can only be effective with the full cooperation of the legislature because our primary assignment is to make laws for the good governance of this country while the secondary function remains on over-sighting the day to day activities of the government of this country with more emphasis on the executive arm of government.
“And that is what we are simply doing, we have not gone out of the law, we have not gone out of the confine of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And we are working seriously in tandem with the law of the land to ensure that Nigerians get their own fair share of the dividends of democracy. We are ready to stand for democracy, we are ready to defend democracy.”
“We are here to inform the world that democracy is under threat in Nigeria, that democracy is being undermined in Nigeria. You will recall that the only institution that is always outside any time we have military aberration and interregnum is the institution of the National Assembly.
“But we have seen some kinds of very wicked satanic and devilish attempts to destroy the National Assembly by some people who come out with some obnoxious proposition about the need to scrap the Senate or the National Assembly and we are saying if the essence of the call is because of cost effectiveness of governance, then why can’t we merge Aso Rock with the National Assembly and return to Parliamentary system of government.
“We have not come here to defend an individual senator, we have not come here to defend the leadership of the Senate, we have come here to defend the institution and independence of the National Assembly.
“It must interest you to know that some months ago, we were here to say no to social media bill. If there’s any reason to protest against our senator for not serving the interest of Nigerians, we will not hesitate to be here to protest against them.”