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Protecting the N/Assembly is protecting democracy

VIEWPOINT IN BRIEF: This house should not fall

By Olufemi Salako

Anywhere around the world, the legislature provides the pillars for democracy. It i’s the most important organ  of democracy; so it is in the best interest of democracy to protect the institution of the National Assembly. But in Nigeria’s own democracy, it appears the reverse is the case. Political heavyweights in the executive corner of power have been busy deflating the strength of what should be a shield for democratic elements.

Instead of working for democratic institutions, politicians are busy doing otherwise. But we must learn this time that when we do that, we are not ultimately pulling down Bukola Saraki, it is the legislative institution  and the nascent democracy itself that we are pulling down. We would come and go, but we must give support to that institution, because that is what represents that people.

The collective will should be to put a strong institution in a place that Nigerians would begin to respect, and say it is  doing things that affect lives, its members  are above board. If you look at the last two years, when we talk about corruption, unlike before, there have been  no scandal or  corruption issues in the National Assembly. There were issues in the  Senate before, like mismanagement of funds  or trying  to cover up something  or allegations that money was shared.

Those are not the things you see in this Senate. We should try to continue like that. It might take time; having a procedure that was opaque, it is not overnight that the system would win the confidence of the people. But  Nigerians  are beginning to see and appreciate the work of the National Assembly, and no matter what you say about this Senate, you might not like them, but  they are people that get things done. These are people that have the capacity to make things happen. They are not there to gloss over things or make sensational issues; they are there to improve the lives of the people and that is what they have evidently been doing.

It does not really matter the level of conspiracy against the figure and personality of Senate President Bukola Saraki, who’s  been quite illustrious to Nigeria’s democratic institution, yet has been the most persecuted. The new political gambit  to fall this great Nigerian, like the many others  in the past, is deemed to fail, no matter the influence  of those who are involved.

When Saraki recently raised the alarm on the floor of the Senate over a purported plot by the IGP to implicate him, using ‘coerced’ cultists, fine citizens know that another political warfare against democracy was up the sleeves of spoilers.

Like the CCT trial, Nigerians know that this is another round of fraud, and are, therefore, not fooled. Recall that the other day, the court agreed with the  CCT  that, on the 15 counts of the 18  charges  filed against  Saraki, it  was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence was based on hearsay that lacked  probate value. Notably,  it  averred, like the  CCT, that the information used in putting together  the  charges  against the Senate President  by the Federal Government  did not connect him  with  the  charges as demanded by law.

It  further held that the Federal Government  erroneously  came to the conclusion that the  onus  to  prove  the 15  charges  was  on the defendant, whereas  it  is established fact that the party that  alleges  must be the one to  prove  beyond reasonable doubt. Beyond the legal aspects of this matter, which have put the judiciary  on the spot  once again, the timing of the judgement is believed to have  corroborated the notion  that the case may begin to suffer the burden of the weight of politicisation.

This is made more real, given the current political permutations in which Saraki  is regarded as one of the men  who wield the influence to  define the  2019 polls. Knowing how high-profile  cases are used as tools for political  bargaining in Nigeria, the projection  could  be  that, for as long as the asset declaration  case  remains,  Saraki  can  continue to be put under check and close control. Whichever of the calculations is at  play, many believe it is not right to drag the judiciary into a  political battle.

It is already being argued in some political quarters that the  cases are being used to tame Saraki’s political tentacles especially his rumoured  presidential  ambition and likely defection. Whatever reasons, real or imagined by the persecutors within the executive parlour of power, we all must know that what appears to be a fight against the person of  Saraki is actually a fight against democracy and ultimately  against  the  nation’s well-being.

  • Salako is resident in Lagos.


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