Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has lauded the sacrifices made by the winner of the June 12 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, describing him as a symbol of the June 12 struggle.
Atiku also called for honour and recognition the late Chief Alfred Rewane, Maj. Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua (rtd), Mrs. Kudirat Abiola; and many others who lost their lives in the struggle to enthrone democracy in the country.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday, the former Vice President expressed dismay that some Nigerians who were victims of bad governance have remained unsung.
“The celebration of Democracy Day is an affirmation of our collective struggles towards a system of participatory government and acceptance of primacy of the rule of law.
“Along the line in the struggle, which spanned decades, many a compatriot paid the ultimate price. While today may well be a day dedicated to democracy, it is also very well a remembrance day for our fallen heroes of democratic rule,” Atiku said.
He noted that while the country may have dedicated a day to celebrating democracy, it’s saddening that the leadership had not delivered enough dividends to the people to make them happy.
He said, “Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels.
“Many, if not all of them, have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country. But the results of their efforts, judging by what we have at hand today, clearly show that our best has not been good enough thus
“It is clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues that has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation.
“To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment – a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.
“It is when we do that, that democracy can pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is counterproductive to the notion of participatory democracy.
“As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by expanding the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance by making sure that ballots cast during an election are sacrosanct in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge”
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain opined that to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, the people’s votes must be made to count.
He called for accelerated process of electoral reforms that will address the lapses in previous elections.