‘It Strengthens Democracy’
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola on Monday lent his weight to the directives of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to its representatives in the National Assembly to block all federal government legislations, stating that the withdrawal of support by parliamentary representative from the executive does not in any way threaten democracy.
The governor who spoke in an interview with newsmen after handing over the Ajao Estate/Ejigbo Link Bridge in Ejigbo, said rather than threaten democracy, it indeed will strengthen it.
“It strengthens democracy because whenever people have raised their voices at a point where they have no alternatives, instead of resorting to violence they are resorting to a legitimate tool to bring the executive to the table to say let us talk, we must have a negotiated compromise in order to go forward”.
“If you close that, then you are setting the expressway to anarchy. It is a legitimate tool, the Americans have used it, the British have used it when it suited them in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, they told their government at a time to invade Iraq and when it did not suit them, in a spirit of non- cooperation to the government of the day which was a coalition, they said you cannot go to Syria”, he added.
The governor noted the interest which the subject matter has generated and some of the comments that have been made especially by the Peoples Democratic Party’s information management mechanism, which showed that there is a lot of learning about the democratic process that they still need to do.
He added that there is however a positive side because there has been a large body of commentary by the public at large and which means that as someone once said: “it is not right to leave politics to politicians alone, so if non-politicians are getting involved, over time we will become better informed”.
He explained that according to the theory of separation of powers propounded many years ago by philosophers like Jean Jack Rosseau which recognized the need for every one of the three arms of government namely Executive, Judiciary and Executive of the government to act as a check on one another, the legislature has found the withdrawal of cooperation from the executive as a legitimate weapon in order to bring a belligerent executive back to the negotiating table.
“Let me say that even where the party in power has full legislative majority, this has been a weapon that Parliament has employed and let us go to an example now, we have a PIB Bill in the National Assembly. It has taken almost three years by a party in majority and have you asked yourself why, so that was an example of a withdrawal of cooperation”.
“The same party in the majority returns the budget and you know how the budget finally came back to the National Assembly. That was an example of withdrawal of legislative cooperation. The same party with the majority last year said it was not going to approve appropriation for the Securities and Exchange Commission, a constitutionally empowered and created body because they were disagreeable with its leadership”, he emphasized.
Noting that no protests came at that time from the PDP about the refusal of the National Assembly, which its members dominate then, to support the executive wondering how the withdrawal of support suddenly amounts now to truncating democracy.
“If investors are withdrawing from our oil sector because we haven’t passed the bill and that is the truth and oil assets are being sold off by traditional investors who have been here for about 40 to 50 years and therefore the capacity to even fund the budget would become one of very high questionability as we go forward. Who is really endangering the budget? and it is interesting now that they think these amounts to a threat to democracy”, he added.
Continuing, the Governor counselled, “So we must open our minds and stop raising needless alarm, now perhaps the PDP is no longer able to stomach the medicine it has dished out to people over the years but I have news for them, there is a stone for every Goliath and this is one stone that we have found”.
Fashola who also spoke on the significance of the continuation of the delivery of dividends of democracy said it is important to connect people with the choices and the promises that the Government has made and delivering and continue to tell them that promises for the present administration are meant to be kept and not to be discarded or broken.