The Edo Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu on Saturday in Benin, called on Nigerians to work together in sustenance of democratic ideals so as to provide room for equity, freedom of speech and sustainable development.
Shaibu stated this while addressing a cross section of protesters who were in a peaceful protest to Edo Government House, Benin City.
According to him, “We have distinguished between the military and civil rule. We have agreed that the difference is freedom of speech. Democracy is here to stay. We have fought for the sustenance of democracy.”
On the issue of the 14 lawmakers-elect who abdicated their roles, he said, “I also want to address the issue of the 14 Edo State House of Assembly members-elect who failed to make themselves available for swearing-in after Governor Godwin Obaseki issued a proclamation letter.
“As we speak, I don’t have a representative from Etsako West Constituency II because these characters decided to follow a godfather shortly after they were voted into office. Today, godfathers have taken over our democracy.
“They have taken over democracy that you and I struggled for. The democracy that the likes of Ransome Kuti and Gani Fawehinmi fought for. All of them struggled to have democracy.”
He noted that the development has destroyed the fabric of our society, adding, “In Edo, these characters decided to follow a godfather. One of our Comrades, Adams Oshiomhole, led us in the struggle in Edo to say no to godfatherism.
“But unfortunately, he removed his khaki and now wears the armor of a godfather. This led to the kind of House of Assembly we now have in Edo State.
“We did everything to beg them; we said you are not representing one godfather you are representing the good people of your constituency. But they refused to come back and be sworn-in. Somebody far away in Lagos, instead was giving them instructions. He said that the governor should issue a second proclamation letter which is against the law. How can somebody from Lagos be dictating for us in Edo? We said no to that, and insisted that Edo people must decide for themselves.
Shaibu said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been unable to conduct a bye-election, because the matter was still in the court.
The deputy governor also advocated for a unicameral legislature to reduce the cost of governance, adding that the funds saved from the restructured legislative system would be used for the development of states.
He further advocated for state policing, noting that the policing arrangement should be given consideration in the ongoing constitution amendment process so as to check insecurity in Nigeria.
One of the protesters, Abraham Oviawe, said the quest was for all Nigerians to enjoy the dividends of democracy, noting that the present administration has stifled free speech.
He urged the government to ensure adequate security of lives and property, saying that the Federal Government is paying lip service to the issue of security.
“After 22 years of democracy, Nigerians are still suffering as the standard of living has gone from bad to worse in the country. We enjoy freedom of speech but not freedom after speech. Democracy is a reminder to the people the quality of service before them,” he said.