House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, has urged members to be vigilant and defend Nigeria’s democracy.
Dogara made the call at the birthday celebration of Hon. Tony Okechukwu at the National Assembly Complex after men of the Department of State Service, who had earlier barricaded the entrance into the complex, had departed.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the heavily armed and masked DSS personnel had blockaded the entrance with four Ranger Ford vehicles without number plates.
The actions of the men prevented free movement in and out of the complex on a day the leadership of the assembly had scheduled an emergency meeting of principal officers of the upper and lower chambers discuss some urgent national issues.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had adjourned sittings on July 24 to reconvene on September 25.
It is believed that the calls in some quarters, particularly for the NASS to break their recess in order to attend to urgent national issues, necessitated the summoning of the emergency meeting of the principal officers of the NASS.
However, the meeting could not hold due to the blockade of the NASS complex by security operatives and has been adjourned indefinitely.
Dogara commended the lawmakers who came out and spoke against the unwarranted actions of the DSS.
He appreciated the members for sacrificing everything to come out on account of the threat the institution was facing.
The parliamentarian appreciated his colleagues for defending the institution which he described as “the number one institution of any democracy’’.
According to him, wherever you have a government and you do not have an independent legislature, you do not have a democracy.
Dogara said: “What you did today is not just a service to our fatherland; it is a service to democracy.
“Actually, you have ensured that our democracy survives and you have beaten back the callous hands of tyranny.
“What we have done, therefore, is service to our democracy and forever this day will go into history as one of those days our democracy faced serious trials and that true men and women of courage were able to ensure that it survives.
“You should be vigilant as it is said by so many philosophers that vigilance is the condition upon which God has given man liberty.
“Once you compromise that, instantly, is the punishment of your crimes; it has been said clearly.
“So, we have to be eternally vigilant; it is not that today’s event has ended and democracy will not face any other trials, they will keep coming.”
The speaker said that courageous people had always defended democracy and that the absence of courageous people in any society meant death for democracy.
According to him, at the death of democracy, sycophancy is enthroned and with sycophancy, you cannot have democracy.
Dogara said that as long as Nigeria is saturated by wonderful people who believe in freedom and are prepared to risk everything for the cause of freedom, democracy will always survive.
He said: “I want to thank you all and I pray that as we retire to our homes, God should remove fatigue from us and enable us to do more noble things for the benefit of this great country and our constituents.”
Dogara congratulated the celebrator and prayed for better years ahead for him.
He said: “Where you are today is the least you will ever be, the glory of the later years will be better than the former as the scriptures puts it.
“We hope that your constituents understand this so that they will put you where you belong so that they will able to reap the benefits of democracy from you.”