By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has advised Nigerians not to take for granted the continued democratic dispensation the country has been enjoying for the past 19 years but guard against actions, statements and moves which can truncate the political process.
While congratulating Nigerians on the 19th anniversary of unbroken elected government in the country, Saraki advised the people to always be vigilant and speak against anti-democratic policies and actions which are capable of subverting rule of law.
He also canvassed strict adherence to the principles of rule of law, separation of powers, sovereignty of parliament, independence of the judiciary, and freedom of the press, adding that “our constitutional institutions must be preserved and protected”.
“As we celebrate democracy today, I congratulate our people and express my conviction that this system of government is the best so far invented. However, it goes beyond the conduct of elections to put leaders in office. Democracy involves strict adherence to rule of law as against the rule of men. It is about respect for due process and following laid down procedures. It is about respect for and building of institutions.
“That is why we cannot be celebrating Democracy Day without canvassing for caution on some recent negative developments in our polity, particularly as we prepare for next year’s general elections. These include abuse of office in a manner that suggests persecution and oppression of perceived enemies, stifling of free expression, undermining of democratic institutions, and impunity on the part of certain persons who behave as though they are above the laws of the land.
“These developments should be of concern to all democrats. Other political and opinion leaders who decided to veil their sight as if they are not seeing these infractions on democracy and choose to keep quiet, should know that they equally pose danger to the survival of our country.
“History will not be fair to us if we allow our complacency to jeopardize democracy. We all must be able to speak out with strong voice on issues that constitute a danger to democracy. Eternal vigilance, they say, is the price of liberty.
“At this point, let us remember and salute our heroes of democracy, those who toiled and paid different prices for us to have elected government, particularly, those who paid the ultimate price with their lives. Their labour shall definitely not be in vain.