Amid a pocket of opposition, the House of Representative yesterday made a significant push towards legalising the June 12 proclamation by President Muhammadu Buhari as Democracy Day.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the plenary, referred a bill in that respect to the committee of the whole for further legislative scrutiny.
He argued that there was no way he would have allowed the chamber to succumb to the wishes of those opposed to the bill since the annulment of June 12, 1993 polls by the military junta of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) had a direct bearing on national unity and cohesion.
The piece of legislation was jointly sponsored by Edward Gyang Pwajok and Kayode Oladele and entitled, A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public Holidays Act, Cap P40 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to bring the Act in tandem with the current realities and exigencies of the modern times and to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria and Related Matters.
Pwajok, who chairs the Committee on Rules and Business, while leading debate on the bill, noted that it was to alter the May 29 date.
Contributing, the Deputy Speaker, Sulaimon Yussuff Lasun, recalled that the unprecedented election was a unifying factor among Nigerians, urging that the noticeable lapse in the result declaration be rectified
Aminu Suleiman (Kano: APC), Pally Iriase (Edo: APC), and Mohammed Tahir Monguno (Borno: APC) lauded Buhari for the declaration.
But members of the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) contended that there was no need dissipating energy on the bill since “President Buhari was insincere about the proclamation of June 12 as Democracy Day.”
Onyererei Jones (Imo: PDP) observed that the piece of legislation ought to have been introduced as an Executive Bill, adding that endorsing it would not only portray the chamber as a rubber stamp legislature but also amounts to a ‘Greek gift’ to the president.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde, feared that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would not live up to the ideals of June 12 by conducting free and fair elections next year.
Other PDP lawmakers who expressed misgivings about the move included Sergius Ose Ogun (Edo: PDP), Kingsley Chinda (Rivers: PDP) and Betty Apiafi (Rivers: PDP).
The chamber also resolved to probe the ‘mysterious’ death of Offa bank robbery mastermind, Michael Adikwu, in police custody.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Zakati Mohammed, the legislators mandated the Committees on Police Affairs, Human Rights and Justice to look into the matter and report back in four weeks.