25 Years of Unbroken Democracy: Lawmakers debate successes and failures

Leah TwakiMay 31, 20243 min

Rep members shared divergent views at the special joint session of the Senate and House making 25 years of unbroken democracy

In a joint session held on Wednesday, members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives expressed divergent views on the achievements and challenges of the country’s 25 years of uninterrupted democracy.

The session highlighted contrasting perspectives on the state of the nation and its democratic journey.

Rep. Julius Ihonbvere (APC Edo), the Leader of the House, lauded the endurance of Nigeria’s democracy, noting its resilience despite early predictions of its failure. “Twenty-five years of democracy is something to celebrate,” he remarked, emphasizing that the sustained democratic process has disproved sceptics.

Ihonbvere illustrated his point by comparing democracy to less desirable alternatives: “If you think democracy is not perfect, not what you dreamed about, then get a taste of authoritarianism, dictatorship, factionalism, and you will know that what we have is setting a road path to a better society.”

He highlighted the legislature’s growth over these years, seeing it as a fertile ground for developing leaders and engaging youths in nation-building.

However, the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), adopted a more reflective tone. He acknowledged the pride in sustaining democracy for a quarter-century but questioned whether the lawmakers’ actions have genuinely served the people’s interests. Chinda invoked Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” urging his colleagues to evaluate their performance against this standard.

On her part, Rep. Kafilat Adetola Ogbara (APC, Lagos) brought attention to the persistent marginalization of Nigerian women. Despite being a significant portion of the population, women, she argued, have been relegated to peripheral roles in political processes. “We need political party reforms,” Ogbara insisted. “Nigerian women have been used as singers, dancers, and clappers during political gatherings—that is not democracy. We want a democracy where women can be at the decision-making table.”

However, Rep. Lilian Orugbo (LP, Anambra) offered a stark critique, questioning the tangible benefits of 25 years of democracy. “How much of this democracy has transformed into unbroken security, education, or healthcare?” she asked, pointing out that many Nigerians still face hunger and insecurity. “Honestly, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to celebrate,” Orugbo concluded.

Responding to Orugbo, Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu, who presided over the session, noted that it is democracy that has provided her the platform to voice such criticisms, underscoring the freedoms that come with democratic governance.

Leah Twaki

A Chemistry graduate, excels as a social media manager, digital journalist, and content creator with an interdisciplinary skills blend of science and communication.

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