The beauty of democracy is that it guarantees free speech and affords citizens the right to disagree with government on policy issues.
This freedom however appears to be under threat going by the way and manner people who have expressed dissenting voices over recent hike in pump price of petrol by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration are being treated.
Just last Thursday, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kaduna State threatened to expel Shehu Sani, senator representing Kaduna central for his opposition to the fuel pump price increase.
Salisu Wusono, the Kaduna APC’s acting publicity secretary, made the threat at a press conference, saying Sani’s position is a sign of disregard for the party.
Hear him: “Given his (Senator Sani’s) disregard for the party, the APC in Kaduna State has no option but to take further disciplinary measures that may lead to his expulsion from the party.
“How can a politician with any sense of discipline or commitment to the public interest fail to see that the fuel subsidy regime is bankrupt and is no longer in the interest of our people.
“In speech and conduct, he has shown himself incapable of loyalty to our party the APC and our great leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Having ridden on the back of our party and the popularity of Buhari to get to the Senate, Sen. Sani has since abandoned any pretension to discipline or loyalty to any principle.”
By this threat, the Kaduna APC has clearly shown that members have no right to disagree with policies of the Buhari-led Federal Government no matter how painful and unpopular they are. All must queue behind such policies willy-nilly. This, unfortunately, is the quickest route to a police state and all lovers of democracy must rise up against this criminalization of dissent.
It is good that members of a party speak with one voice on an issue but attempting to criminalise dissent as the Kaduna APC has done by the threatening to expel Senator Sani over his opposition to the fuel price hike is going too far. It is anti-democratic and will spell doom for the country’s democracy should it be emulated by others.