By Henry Umoru
ON Wednesday, March 7, 2018, the Senate opened contributions on the debate on a motion on the violence unleashed on people during Senator Salau Ahmed Ogembe’s empowerment programme in Kogi Central.
The motion by Senator Ogembe, PDP, Kogi Central was entitled, “Increased and Alarming Spate of Political Intimidation and Violence in Kogi Central Senatorial District Of Kogi State”
Presenting his motion, Senator Ogembe who referred to Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as Amended said that “On Saturday, March 3, 2018, the empowerment programme organised for my Constituents at Afirms Hotel, Ora Street, Lagos Highway, Okene was disrupted by hoodlums and miscreants.
The Senate then resolved to set up an Ad-hoc committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the disruption and violence against the empowerment programme as well as probe the involvement of the Nigerian Police Force in two weeks.
Prior to the position of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu in his contribution to debate, said the following: “Some of us passed through this route before. But, today, by the grace of God, we are here and those oppressors are at home. So, it is God that gives power.
“Sometimes in life, people think they are God. They play God; they play God because God has given them the opportunity to superintend over the affairs of men. They take it that they became what they are by their special power and assume God. But, ultimately, God intervenes to show them that they are not God.
“Between 2011 and 2015, I passed through something worse than what Senator Ogembe was telling us here. The Governor of my state, as he then was- my friend, my brother, a professional colleague, a lawyer for that matter, there was nothing he didn’t do to repress me.
“Traditional rulers were banned from coming to my house. I bought a car for the association of traditional rulers in my senatorial district and because they accepted that vehicle, the chairman of the association was removed from office and dethroned as a traditional ruler. But, by the grace of God, he is back on his seat, and the man who dethroned him is outside.
“I arranged for a medical mission to one of the local governments. In fact, that LG is in the federal constituency of the governor in Ezeagu. Distinguished colleagues, they sent thugs. And this medical mission had to do with the services of eye doctors. We brought old people to help them with their sight and issues like that. They sent thugs, chased those people away, destroyed all the medical equipment and some of the old patients, who could not run because of their sight, had a lot of shock and issues.
“We saw worse than that. At a particular time, one community wanted to give me a traditional title and the government decreed that there shall be no conferment of traditional title in the state for one year. The Commissioner of Police came to the place to enforce it. First, he came to my house and said the Governor said he was going to enforce the decree in Enugu State, that there would be no conferment of Chieftaincy title in the next one year. I told the Commissioner of Police to go to the venue of the event and come and tell me if it is something he can stop.
“The then commissioner of Police went there, came back and said that it would take the whole of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu to stop it and the chieftaincy title programme took place.
“The interesting thing is that today, I am here and the man, who was responsible for all these things is right there in his village because it is only God that gives power. I am sure that other people have similar stories.
“I am saying this because you will recall that sometime last year when they wanted to recall Senator Dino, I advised the governor that they were wasting the resources of the state; that it is mission impossible. They said I was talking nonsense and took three pages of adverts, abusing him. But, are we still hearing about the recall today? All those monies have been wasted. The money that would have been used to pay salaries of people in Kogi State was used to mobilise people to recall Senator Dino. The Kogi people have not been paid and Senator Dino is here; he has not been recalled.
“Today, I am advising the Governor again that the road he is travelling will not lead him to anywhere. Ultimately, these people he is seeing here, by the grace of God, they will be back here and he will leave the office. If he doesn’t stop, there is no way he will come back in Kogi State in 2019. God will show him that He is God of justice and that is exactly the message to all those people, who have caused all kinds of problems in Nigeria at different levels.
“The problem in Nigeria now is that our democracy is receding and the international community needs to know this. Who says that the army cannot takeover in Nigeria? It is possible. Yes it is possible; let us not joke with our democracy the way they are going. That is the issue.
“Two weeks ago, we were talking about how a Senator’s (Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi) house was destroyed in Kaduna State; we are now talking about how security people laid siege on Dino; we are talking about how (Senator Rabiu) Kwankwaso was stopped from going to his state, a state he ruled for eight years. He couldn’t go to that state. We saw people carrying clubs, waiting for him at the airport. In Kaduna, Senator Shehu Sani cannot organize a meeting and we say we are talking about a democracy and somebody says this democracy will continue this way. It is not going to continue; people are holding meetings everyday on how to continue to deal with each and every one of us here.
“The international community needs to know this because they helped us to restore democracy to Nigeria 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.
“Ghana just had her independence anniversary a few days ago and it was celebrations. Nobody knew who was who and which tribes they come from; they came together as Ghanaians to celebrate their country. The President of Ghana was in America addressing all the governors in America. It was a glorious day for Ghana, for Africa indeed because he was telling them to come and establish in Africa.
“Here, Nigeria is losing her position in the comity of nations. We are now a second class nation, not just in Africa, but even in West Africa where we are supposed to be controlling. We are losing in every dimension.
“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.
“So, I want to appeal that let us pursue this with the single-mindedness of saving our country and saving our democracy. May God bless Nigeria.”