Leaders of thought from four – out of the six – geopolitical zones in the country stormed the National Assembly on Thursday and condemned President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for its flagrant disregard for the legislative arm of government.
The Southern and Middle Belt leaders, who condemned killings in the country, warned that democracy is in danger under President Buhari.
Apart from the call for restructuring, for which the group is known, the delegation, made up of elder statesmen, also expressed grave concerns over the manner in which government was being run under the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yinka Odumakin, Secretary of the group, briefed journalists after an hour-long closed-door meeting with the leadership of the Senate led by Bukola Saraki.
He said the historic visit was borne out of the need to rise up and salvage what he described as “a deteriorating state of affairs” in Nigeria.
He added: “The leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Forum today made a very historic visit to the National Assembly, given what is going on in our country about threats to constitutional democracy.
“And in a very elucidating speech presented by Chief John Nwodo on behalf of the four leaders, supported by them, made some points very clear.
“That we are afraid that when we say we run a constitutional democracy, what is currently going on now runs contrary to the ethics and ethos of democracy.
“A situation where court orders are disobeyed regularly, a situation where National Assembly resolutions are treated like tissues and thrown into the dustbin.
“Where members of the executive are summoned and they refuse to surface, where the Senate says this person is not fit to be in office and that person is still in office;
“Where monies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are spent without appropriation by the National Assembly against section 80 (2), (3) and (4) of the constitution which states that ‘any money from the consolidated revenue fund of the federation must be spent in a manner prescribed by the National Assembly through appropriation before expenditure is made.”
He also expressed the group’s disappointment at how the legislature was being treated by organs of the executive arm, insisting that the principle of separation of powers must be adhered to.
“We have observed that – you may not even like the faces of the senators here, but it’s about the institution of democracy – that the only difference between military rule and democratic rule is the National Assembly.
“During military rule, the executive and judiciary are always functional. It’s only the National Assembly that is absent.
“And, therefore, once you trample upon, or desecrate the National Assembly under a democratic rule, then there’s no longer democracy.
“And that’s why we are saying that Nigerians should stand up and defend their right to democratic rule and ensure that all organs of democracy are respected.
“The executive, the legislature, the judiciary, every arm, should function independently without intimidation by any other arm,” Odumakin said.
He further expressed shock at the manner in which thugs were able to gain access to the Senate chamber to steal the mace despite the tight security in the National Assembly, and the inability of the police to arrest the perpetrators weeks after.
“When we were coming in, we said how can five thugs enter this place, take away the mace and the police is saying that it found the mace somewhere on airport road, by the city gate, and up till now, none of the culprits has been arrested even when their faces were seen all over CCTV cameras.
“If a butterfly is dancing on the water, rest assured that there is something drumming for it under the water,” he noted.
The secretary also chided the executive over the controversy generated by the election sequence bill, saying that the National Assembly, which has the power to enact the Electoral Act, also has powers to amend it as it finds necessary.
The group was led by Chief Edwin Clark for the South-South; Chief Nnia John Nwodo for the South-East; Chief Ayo Adebanjo for the South-West, and Air Commodore Dan Sulaiman for the Middle Belt.
Other members of the delegation were Chief Olu Falae, Obong Victor Attah, Sen. Stella Omu, Prof. Banjo Akintoye, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Prof. Ihechukwuma Madubike, Sen. Bassey Henshaw, Air Comm. Dan Suleiman (rtd), Mr. Alfred Mulade, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, among others.