Abimbola Akosile in Lagos, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Dele Ogbodo in Abuja, and Adams Abonu in Lafia
As Nigeria marks Democracy today, citizens around the country have been urged to embrace unity and progress, and to exercise patience with the ruling administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari; among other calls by eminent personalities, groups and organisations.
In his message to mark Democracy Day, former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said the 2016 budget is specifically targeted to address the basic needs of the ordinary Nigerians.
He said there is no doubt that proper implementation of the budget would bring succour to Nigerians. The former Vice President, said regardless of its limitations and challenges, democracy remains the best form of government anywhere in the world.
According to him, the freedom of choice is one of the most important ingredients of the democratic system. He also noted freedom to choose leaders is what makes democracy fashionable, adding that any system that subverts the will of the people destroys the progress of the society.
He stated that as Nigerians celebrate democracy day, the memory of late Shehu Yar’Adua and MKO Abiola would resonate across the country, adding that the sacrifices of countless others who paid the supreme price for opposing dictatorship would also not be forgotten.
The former Vice President said no sane society would choose despotism over democracy because, under dictatorship, dissent is met with death or torture.
On the current challenges facing the ordinary Nigerians, the former Vice President said no democratically elected government would intentionally hurt the voters that put it into office. He explained that the APC administration remains committed to the welfare of Nigerians, and that the current challenges are temporary.
According to him, the 2016 budget is specifically targeted to address the basic needs of the ordinary Nigerians, explaining that the implementation of the budget would bring succour to Nigerians. He therefore urged Nigerians not to lose hope because of the current temporary challenges that they are going through.
Also, former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has told Nigerians not to despair in the face of the daunting economic and socio-political challenges but to remain steadfast for democracy to endure.
Senator Mark in his goodwill message to Nigerians marking this year’s democracy day noted that it was by deliberate choice and design that the nation chose presidential democracy as the best form of government because it is representative and participatory.
This year’s democracy day, Senator Mark noted is unique “because it is the first time in the last 17 years of uninterrupted civilian administration that an opposition political party is in charge.”
In spite of criticism, he noted that the solid foundation the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) administration put in place for 16 years guaranteed the congenial atmosphere that enabled an opposition party to win elections.
He therefore urged governments at all levels to initiate policies and programmes that are in consonance with the wishes and aspirations of the people, pointing out that any programme or policy that tends to bring misery on the citizenry cannot be adjudged a good package.
Mark, in a statement issued by his media assistant, Mr. Paul Mumeh, also craved for an egalitarian society where every citizen irrespective of political, religious or ethnic leaning is free to pursue his or her legitimate ambition anywhere in the country without fear of molestation or intimidation.
Meanwhile, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has charged Nigerians to rise up to the task of defending Nigeria’s unity in line with the national pledge as the need for national cohesion is more real now than ever.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Director; Public Affairs, Mr. Fidel Agu, on behalf of the Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, in a congratulatory message to Nigerians on the occasion of the 2016 Democracy Day celebration.
Abari, stressed that the responsibility of ensuring the unity of nation and the sustenance of its democracy is the task of all Nigerians.
While congratulating Nigerians on the sustenance of democracy, the DG also commended the citizenry for supporting the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to deliver on its Change Agenda, noting that the successes so far recorded by the administration in security and anti-corruption would not have been possible without popular support.
He however said: “At such a time in our history when we are sending elements of terror and disintegration into extinction, they are showing evidence of defeat by attempting to sow seeds of discord across the country using veiled attacks. But Nigerians are not fooled and we must not allow anyone pitch us against ourselves by fanning the embers of ethnic rivalry.”
Abari also charged Nigerians to use the 2016 democracy day to reflect on their individual contributions to national development with a view to making more meaningful inputs in the years ahead. He therefore urged Nigerians to embrace patriotism and make necessary sacrifices in the interest of building a better Nigeria for all and for posterity.
Also, former Anambra state Governor and APC stalwart, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju has called on Nigerians to be more patient with the deliverance of change by the administration of President Buhari.
In a media statement released from his office and made available to THISDAY in Lafia ahead of the occasion of the administration’s one year in office, Mbadinuju commended the “sense of purpose demonstrated by the administration of President Buhari, which has begun to yield results in all facets of our national endeavours.”
“It will be one year since President Buhari took over a battered economy from past governments and the effort towards reversing the ominous situation is so far commendable. In one year, President Buhari has shown Nigerians and the entire world what is possible in Nigeria through a sense of purpose and an unparalleled commitment to the Nigerian people.
“The administration’s firm stand against corruption has been marked with results which will manifest in earnest. The anti-corruption and loot recovery campaign is long needed and now a good thing that President Buhari has revived it. Instructively, the present economic situation is as a result of a grossly mismanaged past and we are hopeful that this administration would save the situation.
“Bringing back what was lost takes effort and time. While the administration might still have a lot to do in transforming the fortunes of Nigerians, one year is not enough to assess the effort,” the former governor’s statement read in parts.
While urging Nigerians to give unalloyed support to the government, Mbadinuju called for patience so as to allow “the gains of these efforts to fully materialise.”
“Nigerians must be patient with their governments. We have never seen this much sincere effort from a president and we must realise that good things take time. Now is the time to heal Nigeria of the various woes that bedevilled our dear country.
“We have come a long way as a country and the collective aspirations of all Nigerians to have a good life in a safe country. This aspiration is realisable with Buhari and we should give him the needed support,” he added.
Meanwhile, telecoms giant, Globacom, has said seventeen years of uninterrupted civilian rule have been good for the development of the nation.
In a goodwill message released in Lagos weekend to felicitate with Nigerians on Democracy Day, Globacom said the sustenance of democracy for nearly two decades was gradually leading Nigeria on the path of justice, liberty, and equality.
“The last 17 democratic years of our nation have been a learning curve for politicians and citizens who have improved on internal and external communication and amicable resolution of issues in a peaceful and democratic manner. This culminated in the watershed election that led to the ouster of a sitting government through the ballot for the first time in the country,” Globacom said.
The next generation network added: “We urge all the arms of government to cooperate and firm up strategies to pull Nigeria out of dire straits. They should also formulate viable and enduring strategies that will make the country live up to its appellation as the giant of Africa, whilst building institutions that would safeguard the perpetuation of democratic ethos in the country.”
Globacom called on all Nigerians to support government in its efforts to build a viable economy, adding that such collaboration would lead to the triumph over the current challenges in the near future. It also encouraged all to continue to make sacrifices and offer prayers for God to turn potentials which abound in the country to advantages.
On the part of the country’s leaders, Globacom called for careful harnessing of the human and natural resources in such a way that the journey to the promised land would be realised.
It recalled that it was the civilian regime that opened the telecoms landscape and ensured that telephone services became available and affordable to the masses. The achievements in the sector, the company added, were the dividends of democracy.
Globacom pledged continued commitment to innovation and service quality and urged Nigerians to continue to support it through the patronage of its products and services.