THIS DAY, MARCH 20, 2002


I am happy to be here. Indeed I am always happy when I am in the midst of my legislator colleagues. For me, it is both an honour and a privilege to be a lawmaker. It is a calling I love. It is a calling I cherish. Even more gratifying is the fact that you have honoured me with the opportunity to address this highly esteemed Assembly.

Thank you for this rare privilege.


I am even happier that I am addressing one of the model State Assemblies in the country. I find fulfilment in the fact that Taraba State House of Assembly has maintained a comparatively peaceful relationship with the executive. This is an achievement that comes with maturity both on the part of the Executive and the Legislature. Please accept my commendation and congratulation.


Yes, you deserve my commendation. I say this because some people have come to misconstrue the serious business of lawmaking. To some, success in law-making must be measured against the backdrop of confrontation and acrimony between the legislature and the Executive at all levels of government. To others, the lawmaker is a self-serving, self-seeking individual whose main preoccupation is enriching himself or herself at the expense of the electorate. Such misunderstanding, such misconceptions are borne out of a wrong perception of the various roles of the legislature in a democracy.


But let me also stress that the high level of criticisms we receive as legislators go to illustrate the prime role of the legislature in any democracy. For even though there are three arms of government namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, the legislature stands out as the engine driving the ship of democracy. It

is, indeed, the bastion of democracy.


That is why as lawmakers, we must consider ourselves as an Assembly of privileged people bearing the banner of hope of the electorate. In fact, we must see ourselves as custodians of the people’s destiny. Indeed, we are the people’s hope. We represent the people’s voice. We speak for them. We must act for them. We must meet their expectations. We must strive at all times to give meaning

to their lives. 


This, to me, is the challenge before all of us. How to turn the people’s fear into faith in the country and in themselves; how to keep their hope in the polity alive. The challenge is daunting but I trust you to deliver. I trust in the ability of this Assembly and in fact every other Assembly to legislate, guided by the high democratic ideals of peace, unity and progress.


Our job is made even more difficult by long years of military rule. The mind of the average Nigerian is highly militarized. We must work hard to demilitarize it. We must work hard to evolve a new sub-culture of tolerance and respect for human rights.


My dear colleagues, the task is challenging. Every passing day, it is made even more daunting by the series of crises erupting from different parts of the country. And on each occasion, and for every crisis, the people look up to us for solution. Perhaps, you might shudder, perhaps you might wonder, how can we proffer solution to crises through legislation? I share in your anxiety. I share in your



But I have good news for you. We can if we try. We can bring hope to a people in despair. We can evolve peace in an atmosphere of violence. We can, through legislation, sustain and nurture our young democracy to full bloom. We can, through legislation, keep the enemies of democracy in abeyance. For I tell you, the enemies of democracy are in our midst.


They manifest their evil intentions in diverse ways. They brew ethno-religious crisis like the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) uprisings in Lagos, the senseless killings in some parts of the North, the Tiv/Jukum crisis in the Middle Belt; the Bakassi mayhem in the East and the Eghesu menace in the Niger Delta. But we must not let these crises overwhelm us. As legislators, we are the shield and buckler of the people. We must not give up for it is too early in the day to be weary.


I say we are the hope of the people. At this stage of our democratic enterprise, we must be guided by the words of Reverend Jesse Jackson, that zestful, restless black American, who once raised hope of a black man occupying the White House.