Senate Minority Leader Warns Against Stifling Free Speech
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has warned state houses of assembly not to stifle opposition voices, particularly the recent actions of cowing minority leaders in their midst.
Abaribe in a statement released in Abuja by his spokesman, Uchenna Awom on Monday, bemoaned recent happenings in some state assemblies in the country, where minority leaders and opposition party members are hounded as perceived enemies in the performance of their statutory and democratic functions of clear oversight on the executive.
He described as worrisome the recent occurrence in Imo State House of Assembly where the Minority Leader and some other members were suspended in a manner that strongly suggests circumvention of democratic ethos.
“Democracy does not stop at the national level. It must permeate all levels of government i.e, wards, local governments, state and other democratic institutions. In all of these, everybody must enjoy of expression and association as guaranteed by our constitution,” Abaribe said.
“So, it is undemocratic and smirks of dictatorship, any attempt by anybody, particularly a parliament for that matter to abhor minority functions and stifle opposition voices, just because you want to pander to executive whims.
“It is reprehensible to even contemplate suspension of a minority leader because he questions the executive on things that seem to be antithetical to democratic norms.”
The Minority Leader, therefore, advised the State Assemblies to always see every party represented on the floor as partners in progress, whose viewpoints are all geared towards achieving good governance.
He added, “Without dissenting opinions, democracy loses its kernel. The essence of liberal democracy is the accommodation of different viewpoints, which is warehoused in the interplay of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary independently in the political system.”