A former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has described the crisis in the Plateau State House of Assembly, which has kept the parliament under lock and key, as an embarrassment to Nigeria’s 22-year of uninterrupted democracy.
He expressed dissatisfaction over what he described as the conspiracy of silence among politicians, urging them to speak out with a view to finding a solution to the impeachment saga in the state.
Saraki, in a statement issued on Saturday by the Head of his Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that if the issues that led to the crisis had happened in the first few years after the return of democracy in 1999, it would have been excusable as part of the learning curve.
The statement was titled, ‘Saraki: After 22 years of democracy, Plateau Assembly crisis, huge embarrassment to Nigeria’.
He said, “The Plateau crisis should be viewed in a larger context. It is not about Governor Simon Lalong with whom I have personal relationship and enjoy mutual respect, neither is it about the two claimants to the office of Speaker of the state House of Assembly nor their supporters in the legislature; it is even bigger than Plateau State or any individual.
“The issue is about how the world sees us as a serious democratic country. It is about whether the rest of the world will see us as a people who lack respect for due process and therefore incapable of putting the provisions of our constitution to work on simple matters.
“How can we, after 22 years of democracy, be talking of the impeachment of a Speaker by six or eight members – whatever is the correct figure here – in a 24-member legislature, and a picture of a parliamentary proceeding to impeach the Speaker holding at 7am?
“These are developments that will surely make this country a laughing stock in the international community. Yet, all our leaders and top politicians are silent. We, the political leaders, are behaving as if we are unconcerned. This conspiracy of silence is the major worry that I have on this issue.
“We should all speak against the flagrant disregard for due process and lack of respect for the provisions of the constitution. This is the reason why we make a simple issue complex.”
Saraki described the closure of the Assembly complex as a mere “escapism and using a wrong response to correct a wrong development,” adding that it was a measure that would deny the people representation and prevent the legislature from performing the duty for which the members were elected.
He said, “It is trite to state that by the provision of our constitution, only 16 members can validly impeach a Speaker in a 24-member legislature. It is also not difficult to determine whether 16 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly want Hon. Abok Ayuba to be removed as Speaker or not.
“If those who want him to be removed have the number, it should be easy to determine during a peaceful, properly convened proceeding. If those against the Speaker do not have the number, they should go back to renew their strategy. No state machinery or institution should be used to perpetrate or condone illegality.”