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Politics

Why We Must Protect Nigeria’s Democracy – Obasa, Fashola, Others [Photos]

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Speakers at an event to commemorate the country’s 25 years of unbroken democratic governance organised by the Lagos State House of Assembly have warned that democracy in Nigeria must be protected by every citizen

Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, former governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, foreign diplomats, and business experts argued on Wednesday evening that democracy has benefitted the Nigeria since 1999 when the country began its fourth republic.

Others who spoke at the event include Prof. Eghosa Osaghae of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Dr. Muda Yusuf, former chairman of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, and Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).

Dr. Obasa said Nigeria deserved to celebrate because in the last 25 years, the country has successfully transferred power from one administration to another, uphold the principles of representation, accountability, and the rule of law.

“Our democracy has endured despite challenges and setbacks. We have faced elections, protests, and debates, but our commitment to democracy has remained unwavering.

“We have demonstrated that democracy is not a destination but a journey, and we are proud to be on this path. We must continue to guard it jealously, for it is the foundation upon which the fabric of our nation’s progress is built.

“We must continue to promote democratic values, protect human rights, and ensure that our democracy remains perpetually unbroken,” the Speaker said while recalling the struggle and sacrifice made by well-meaning Nigerians during the struggle for democracy.

Obasa noted the roles so far played by the state legislature in the scheme of Nigeria’s progress to include promotion of good governance, accountability, and the rule of law as well as passage of bills that have transformed the lives of citizens.

As a transformative and people-centric legislature, the House of Assembly has delivered impactful laws and representation, reforming justice, social welfare, and security systems, and driving tax reforms, infrastructural development, and transportation improvements.

“These have attracted significant attention from local and international admirers, leading to frequent visits from international representatives and private citizens seeking to learn from us, exchange ideas, conduct research, or participate in exchange programmes,” the Speaker said.

He urged Nigerians to continue to support state Houses of Assembly to further deepen democratic values and bring governance closer to the grassroots.

On his part, Fashola has said 25 years of democracy has provided an opportunity for effective representation of the people as well as freedom to make laws.

Urging Nigerians to hold on to democracy very jealously, he argued that the federal system practised in Nigeria remains important to the country’s growth.

For those who are understandably impatient with democracy, I hear them. It can be a tedious way to govern. There is no better way to order our affairs. I will not trade the liberties it offers for anything else.

“We are a federal state and let me tell you why. We have multi-level legislative houses from the local councils to the National Assembly. We have multi-level judicial system.

“We also find different levels of government exercising different forms of responsibilities and this you can find in the exclusive and concurrent lists and, of course, what you can’t find in those two lists, is the residual authority that resides in the states. For example, the Senate cannot make laws on landlords and tenants laws and rent control,” he said.

Speaking about some changes that have happened in Nigeria in the last 25 years, he recalled the ‘famous resource control case’ which originated from Lagos and was resolved through the constitution making some states earn better now.

He also recalled the matter relating to local government creation during the administration of Asiwaju Tinubu as governor.

As at 1999, if you wanted to build a house in Lagos, you would go and get permit in Abuja. It was the Lagos State government that went to court to stop it,” he said, adding that the cases were fought and won because of the quest for a perfect union.

Urging support for President Tinubu’s administration, expressed optimism that wages and salaries and issues with the creation of state police would become reality.

The Consul General of the French embassy in Lagos, Laurent Favier, while congratulating Nigeria, said “democracy is not a state of perfection but something people have to fight for at all times. It is a political structure that must be deepened.

He expressed satisfaction with how democracy in Nigeria has ensured freedom just as he urged the country not to relent in making citizens happy.

On the other hand, Weert Börner, Consul General of Germany, said his country with 16 states, practises same federal system as Nigeria adding that this results in healthy competitions.

He affirmed that Nigerians enjoy freedom of opinions, one of the characteristics of democracy.

He commended Nigeria over its Electricity Act which gives states power to generate electricity noting that Germany followed same part 25 years ago resulting in about two million electricity producers in the country.

Consul General of the Embassy of Italy, Ugo Boni assured that the government of his country will continue to be a trustworthy companion of Nigeria while the British Deputy High Commissioner, Lagos, Jonny Baxter, said: “In these challenging times, it is important that we support each other in our shared commitment to democracy.

“Nigeria’s democratic resilience and significance in West Africa serves as an example to other nations seeking to strengthen and protect their own democracies.”

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