•Patrick Lumumba to lawmakers: be honourable not horrible members
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajajiamila has said the current democracy in Nigerians was the outcome of the sacrifice and struggle among the nation’s media.
He said it would have been impossible to have democracy in the country if the media had not risen to the occasion.
Gbajabiamila spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at the unveiling of the Green Chamber magazine and official lapel pin of the House of Representatives.
Dignitaries at the unique event include Lai Mohammed, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari; Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, who stood in for Senate President Ahmed Lawan; Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari; his Imo State counterpart, Senator Hope Nzodinma; Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen.
Others are: former Editor of The Nation and current Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, who represented Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu; former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha; representatives of minsters, Speakers of Niger and Edo States’ Houses of Assembly, among others.
Also, the Director of the Kenyan Law School, Prof. Patrick Loch Lumumba, told Nigerian lawmakers to be honourable members representing their people and not horrible legislators.
Both men hailed the media for their sacrifices in midwifing the current democracy in Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila said: “The country has long benefited from the work of dedicated media professionals: men and women possessed of incredible talent and abundant courage who risked life and limb to tell stories that exposed malfeasance and abuse and held the powerful to account.
“I can say with absolute confidence that our democratic settlement could never have been achieved without the noble daring of the press. Those unsung heroes understood the power of the written word and wielded it in passionate denunciation of the tyranny that sought to consume us all.
“I am now, as I always have been, a passionate believer in the value of a free and unfettered press. I am also an unrepentant advocate of quality and honest journalism.
Today, there are others, who have themselves discovered the power of the word to inform and enlighten, to motivate and inspire, and have continued in that noble tradition of holding the powerful to account.
“They operate within a media environment that too often chooses instead to elevate the voices of charlatans, and digital arsonists who exploit the democracy of the internet to spread fake news for clicks and profit and in service of base agendas.”
Lumumba, who was the keynote speaker at the event, said the lawmakers were elected to representing their people but regretted that legislators were being measured by the number of weddings they have attended or the number of people they have assisted.
“When in 1960 there was an explosion of independence, we were hounded in many ways and many institutions were imposed on us. We were told that African countries, having gained their independence, had to embrace democracy.
“We were told that democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We were told that we would have representative democracy. We were told then that you honourable members of the House of Representatives represented us.
“We were told then that you were our servants. For a long time, we believed that you were our servants. But over the years, things changed and we started believing that you are no longer our servants and that you have become our masters,” he said.