The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged aggrieved participants arising from the February 25th Presidential and National Assembly elections to apply lawful means in expressing their grievances.
The Speaker stated that post-election disputes in a complex country like Nigeria were expected, but noted that ultimately democracy must be safeguarded while disagreements were being resolved.
Gbajabiamila noted that this was the reason both the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022, made provisions on the resolution of disputes through lawful and peaceful means, post-election.
The Speaker’s call was contained in an address to members of the House as they reconvened plenary in Abuja on Tuesday, after their election break.
According to Gbajabiamila, a resort to violence or instigating it through whatever methods in the name of protests is never an option.
Rather, he advised parties to go through the courts and the full legal process provided by the law.
He remarked, “The test of an advanced democracy is the ability to manage grievances and settle disagreements without causing fatal damage to the body polity.
“The constitution of our republic and the Electoral Act that governs elections in Nigeria both define a framework of post-election dispute resolution and adjudication.
“This framework exists to protect the integrity of our elections. It ensures that when elections fail to meet expectations, contested issues of facts and law can be resolved through a due process within a legal framework befitting a constitutional democracy.
“It is not in the interests of our country, now or ever, to advocate for or embrace extralegal interventions to resolve electoral disputes and address grievances.
“We must avoid actions or utterances that set the stage for interventions that could be fatal to our democracy and the gains we have made over the last two decades. This is the time, despite whatever disappointments we may each feel, to reject considerations of partisan and other interests to come together and make sure first that our country survives and our imperfect democracy continues its march towards progress and a more perfect union.”
The Speaker urged leaders across board to lead the way in supporting the due process of law.
“This is the time for political, social, religious and economic leaders across the nation to work steadfastly together towards the ends of law and due process. I am confident we will rise above the worst expectations others may have of us in this defining this moment”, he added.
Gbajabiamila expressed optimism in the peaceful coexistence of all segments of Nigeria, saying that those hoping to use the post-election situation to set the country on a path of destruction would be disappointed.
“We will resist malign actors seeking to exploit this moment of tension for their own ends. We will defeat the cynicism of those waiting to see their worst predictions for our country become real.
“Nigeria will be at peace because we will work through the law and due process to resolve differences, settle disputes and ensure the peaceful transition of power”, he told his colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Speaker said the House would continue to serve the Nigerian people even as the count down to the end of the term in the 9th assembly had begun.
He asked all committees to begin to prepare transition notes “as part of our reforms to build institutional memory and ensure continuity in governance” and to do a thorough review of the events of the past four years, relating to the implementation of the 9th House of Representatives’ legislative agenda.