The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has cautioned against the undermining of the legislature and other critical institutions of democracy, describing such as a recipe for anarchy.
He identified extra-budgetary expenditures and disregard for legislative resolutions, summons, and their confirmation powers as noticeable factors undermining the efforts of the Nigerian legislatures to ensure good governance, security, peace, and happiness of Nigerians.
Ekweremadu spoke on Monday at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Onicha Uboma, Imo State, where he delivered the 9th Synod lecture of the Anglican Communion, Okigwe South Diocese entitled ‘The Legislature and the Search for Peace and Happiness in Nigeria’.
He said: “Although legislative resolutions do not carry the weight of law, they are nevertheless a key medium for stating the position of the Nigerian people on a subject matter through their elected representatives. Sadly, there is a blatant disregard for resolutions of the legislature across all levels of government.
“Certain executive appointments need confirmation by the people through their representatives because two good heads are better than one. Besides, the nation could be poorly run and tilt towards dictatorship if the president or governor has the absolute power to hire and fire.
“Also, in the course of exercising its powers of oversight and investigation, the legislature often has cause to invite executive officers. Unfortunately, Nigerians have continued to observe with utter dismay how some executive officers not only disdain legislative resolutions, but also shun legislative invitations.
“There is yet an emerging dangerous twist. People now rush to the courts to file processes in order to evade legislative summons. Some also go as far as seeking an order of court restraining the legislature from making laws or investigating a matter before it.
“There is separation of powers in our constitution so that one arm of government cannot hinder another from performing its responsibilities. I cannot imagine a situation where the legislature passes a resolution that the courts should not sit or discharge their constitutional functions. This is a recipe for anarchy”.
He cited the invasion of the Senate chamber as well as the recent invasion and vandalisation of the premises of the Rivers State High Court as glaring threats to the nation’s democracy, emphasising that lawmakers should not be made to legislate under duress and intimidation.
“It still baffles Nigerians and the world that the hoodlums beat all the security presence at the National Assembly and the vicinity of the Three Arms Zone, disappeared with Senate’s mace, and nothing has been heard about them. We are moving on as if nothing happened.
“This affront to democracy has also been extended to the High Court of Rivers State.
“Therefore, although the Senate’s mace has been recovered, anything less than apprehending and prosecuting the culprits and masterminds will not augur well for our democracy”, he stressed.
Ekweremadu, called for more public support for the legislature, explaining that the parliament makes the difference between a democracy and dictatorship.
“The legislature is the heartbeat of democracy. It needs public support and encouragement. The parliament is a very vital institution of democracy. Even if you do not like some faces of the people that occupy it, you have to like and reverence the institution and its constitutional roles.
“There is nothing wrong with criticising and holding the legislature accountable. However, to deliberately undermine or run it down is to undermine democracy itself because democracy falters when the parliament is undermined. The whole essence of separation of powers, checks and balance, and rule of law, which guarantee good governance and safeguard democracy are eroded. It is a recipe for anarchy”.
In his remark, the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Revd. David Onuoha, described Ekweremadu as a resilient and quality representative worthy of emulation.
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate