Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has lamented that the recently concluded parties primaries have not in any way given hope that democracy is advancing in Nigeria.
The Speaker said neither the conduct of the primaries nor the attitude of the parties and their leaderships had demonstrated positive evidence that the managers of democracy and its institutions were true democrats.
Lamenting the slow pace of the growth of democracy in Nigeria while delivering a goodwill message at the public presentation of the book; “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aids to the Interpretation of the Constitution, Statutes and Private Documents” authored by Hon Justice R. N. Ukeje in Abuja yesterday, Dogara regretted the failure to adapt to democratic principles noticed during the primaries.
The Speaker, whose State Bauchi, is one of the states rocked by crises arising from the primaries, argued that democracy is all about adherence to rule of law and due process and imposition of candidates and impunity.
“If you look at it very well you begin to wonder judging from different primaries conducted by political party as to whether we are making progress in the advancement of our democracy,” he queried.
“Democracy is all about laws. It’s all about due process, about the rule of law, therefore the deeper your laws, the deeper your democracy.
“We can deepen our laws by deepening the interpretation of these laws to make them applicable to situations that may arise afterthe laws have been written. There are no better ways to deepen our democracy”, he said.
Speaking further, he said: “if you look at the constitution, it is not something that is written on daily basis. The American Constitution, for instance, from where we borrowed ours, has been in existence for hundreds of years yet people still refer to it as the living document.
He said judges have the responsibility of interpreting laws to promote healthy democratic ambience, justice and national development.
“Through inventive interpretation, the Judges have ensured that the document crafted ages ago is still relevant to address the contemporary needs of the American society”, noting regrettably that Nigeria’s constitution is yet to enjoy such recognition.
However, he expressed the hope that true democrats could still make the Nigeria constitution work.”We still make of it a living document that will remain relevant now and for ages to come. This can only be the rules of interpretation of legislations as they cannot give what they don’t have.”
Dogara lauded Justice Ukeje for coming out of retirement to write the book, noting that she has bridged the gap in an area of interpretation and application of law as they affect democracy, noting that “the issue of interpretation of statues including the constitution is absolutely important in the advancement of our democracy.”