Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has cautioned State Houses of Assembly not to stifle opposition voices, particularly the recent actions of cowing minority leaders in their midst.
In a statement released in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom on Monday, the Minority Leader 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.
Most worrisome, Senator Abaribe said was the recent occurrence in Imo State House of Assembly where the Minority Leader and some other members were suspended in a manner that strongly suggest circumvention of democratic ethos.
The beauty of democracy he added is embedded in the provision of checks and balances, accommodation of all sheds of opinion and allowing free canvassing of view points in the constitution.
“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.
“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 seems to be antithetical to democratic norms” Senator Abaribe said.
The Minority Leader, therefore advised the State Assemblies to always see every party represented on the floor as partners in progress, whose view points are all geared towards achieving good governance.
“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”, Senator Abaribe added.