*Pays tribute to Abiola, other martyrs of June 12
*Apologises for pains associated with recent fuel subsidy removal
*Afenifere charges president on actuallising Abiola’s dreams
*Atiku: It’s time to reflect on our democratic journey
*Our democracy is deeply troubled, says Obi
*NADECO seeks implementation of El-Rufai’s report
*Gbajabiamila asks for prayers for leaders
*EU pledges to strengthen nation’s democracy
*Keep faith, despite setbacks, Obaseki urges Nigerians
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Emmanuel Addeh, Adedayo Akinwale, Emameh Gabriel and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu has joined Nigerians across the world to celebrate 30 years of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, and the fifth anniversary of Democracy Day. Tinubu sent a message to people, who refused to accept defeat at elections, saying they do not deserve victory in future polls.
In a broadcast this morning, Tinubu eulogised the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, and other martyrs of the struggle that followed, saying Abiola paid the supreme price for democracy to survive.
The president noted that orders used to truncate or abridge democracy would no longer be tolerated. He apologised to the Nigerian people for the pains they suffered following the recent removal of fuel subsidy.
Commemorating the June 12 Democracy Day, too, Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, yesterday, said this year’s edition was significant because one of the leading lights of the June 12 struggle, Tinubu, was now Nigeria’s president. Therefore, Afenifere stated, actualising Abiola’s dreams for Nigeria and the world now rested on him.
Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election, Atiku Abubakar, said it was time for Nigerians to reflect on their journey to becoming a truly democratic society.
Similarly, presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, expressed worry over the current state of the nation’s politics and concluded that Nigeria’s democracy was deeply troubled while its destiny remained uncertain and precarious.
At the same time, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) called on Tinubu to immediately set in motion modalities for the implementation of the Nasir el-Rufai committee report on federal constitutional government, as promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, congratulated Nigerians for their unwavering support for the country and urged them to pray for its leadership.
On the foreign scene, European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) pledged to continue to work towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and deepening the gains.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, urged Nigerians to keep faith with democracy, despite the setbacks.
Tinubu was a prominent leader of NADECO, the umbrella group of Nigerian activists who advocated the actualisation of the June 12 mandate, following the Ibrahim Babangida military government’s annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election presumably won by Abiola.
Tinubu stressed in his Democracy Day speech, “We can easily recall the sacrifice and martyrdom of Chief MKO Abiola, the custodian of the sacred mandate that was so cruelly annulled. He sacrificed his life in unyielding, patriotic defence of the ideals of democracy as symbolised in his choice, by his fellow countrymen and women, as their duly-elected President.
“There was an easier choice for him. It was to forgo the justice of his cause and opt for the path of ease and capitulation in the face of the tyranny of power. To his eternal credit and immortal glory, Abiola said no. He demonstrated the time-tested eternal truth that there are certain ideals and principles that are far more valuable than life itself.
“Everyday, on this day, down the ages, we will recall the several other heroes of democracy, such as Kudirat Abiola, wife of Chief Abiola, who was brutally murdered while in the trenches fighting on the side of the people.
“We remember Pa Alfred Rewane, one of the heroes of our independence struggle and Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd), who were silenced by the military junta while in pursuit of democracy. They gave their yesterday for the liberty that is ours today.”
Reminiscing on the annulment of the June 12 presidential poll by the military president Babangida regime, Tinubu vowed that such illegal orders that stalked the June 12 poll would no longer be tolerated in the country.
He said, “It has become imperative to state here that the unnecessary illegal orders used to truncate or abridge democracy will no longer be tolerated.”
Referring to the last general election in the country, the president declared that those who refused to accept defeat in the poll did not deserve victory in future elections.
He said, “Those who cannot endure and accept the pain of defeat in elections do not deserve the joy of victory, when it is their turn to triumph. Above all, those who disagree with the outcome of the elections are taking full advantage of the constitutional provisions to seek redress in court and that is one of the reasons why democracy is still the best form of government invented by man.”
Tinubu also commented on the recent withdrawal of fuel subsidy by his administration. He apologised to Nigerians for the step taken, and said the move was dictated by the need to ensure that the Nigeria did not cease to exist.
According to Tinubu, “It is for this reason that, in my inauguration address on May 29, I gave effect to the decision taken by my predecessor-in-office to remove the fuel subsidy albatross and free up for collective use the much-needed resources, which had hitherto been pocketed by a few rich.
“I admit that the decision will impose extra burden on the masses of our people. I feel your pain. This is one decision we must bear to save our country from going under and take our resources away from the stranglehold of a few unpatriotic elements.
“Painfully, I have asked you, my compatriots, to sacrifice a little more for the survival of our country. For your trust and belief in us, I assure you that your sacrifice shall not be in vain. The government I lead will repay you through massive investment in transportation infrastructure, education, regular power supply, healthcare and other public utilities that will improve the quality of lives.”
Speaking on the need to save democracy, he said, “It is about rule of law and vibrant judiciary that can be trusted to deliver justice and strengthen institutions. It has become imperative to state here that the unnecessary illegal orders used to truncate or abridge democracy will no longer be tolerated.
“The recent harmonisation of the retirement age for judicial officers is meant to strengthen the rule of law, which is a critical pillar of democracy. The reform has just started. The democracy that will yield right dividends to the people, who are the shareholders, means more than just freedom of choice and right to get people into elective offices.
“It means social and economic justice for our people. To the winner of June 12, democracy offers the best chance to fight and eliminate poverty. Thirty years ago, he christened his campaign manifesto, ‘Farewell to Poverty’, because he was convinced that there is nothing divine about poverty. It is a man-made problem that can be eliminated with clearly thought out social and economic policies.
“On my part and that of my administration, I pledge anew our commitment to diligently fulfilling every component of our electoral pact with the people – the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda. We shall be faithful to truth. Faithful to equity. And faithful to justice. We shall exercise our authority and mandate to govern with fairness, respect for the rule of law, and commitment to always uphold the dignity of all our people.”
Afenifere Challenges President on Actuallising Abiola’s Dreams
Afenifere, in press statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, marking the 30th anniversary of the annulment of the 1993 presidential election, tasked Tinubu to design necessary policies to protect ordinary Nigerians and ensure that their welfare was improved.
Afenifere recounted how the election won by Abiola was annulled by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, adding that the annulment caused a lot of uproar both within and outside Nigeria, and precipitated countless tragedies.
Afenifere said in the statement, “Many leading lights in Nigeria, including the winner of the election, Basorun M.K.O. Abiola, lost their lives while many had to run away for their dear lives. Among them was Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, who is now the president of the country.
“Tinubu, along with many others, fought for the de-annulment of the election result under the auspices of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) formed for the purpose of actualising the said election and the ousting of the military from the corridors of power in Nigeria. Besides midwifing NADECO, Afenifere played pivotal roles in the struggle to actualise June 12.
“At a point, Tinubu, like many others, had to flee the country. But they continued the struggle even while outside Nigeria.”
Afenifere said it had to recall the events to underscore the fact that the person occupying the number one position in Nigeria today was a very active player in the struggle to restore civil rule in the country.
“Incidentally, he was part of Hope 93, the trajectory mounted by Abiola, who contested on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the said election,” Afenifere said of Tinubu.
It added, “Thus, Tinubu was very much aware of the plans Abiola had for transforming Nigeria had he became the president of the country. Herein, among others areas, lies the significance of Tinubu mounting the saddle exactly 30 years after the historic election that would have seen his (Tinubu’s) former political leader in Aso Rock.
“Meaning that he, Tinubu, now has the onerous responsibility of actualising the noble dreams of Abiola for Nigeria and the African continent. A good student of history, Tinubu is quite familiar with those plans that Abiola had. Just as he is familiar with the life-transforming programmes of his older political icon, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“Now, he has the responsibility to harmonise the big projects of these two men and integrate them with his own plans with a view to making Nigeria fulfill its destiny. The destiny of being the leading light for the Black Race all over the world. A destiny the country was on the path to fulfill, but for the unfortunate military incursion of 1966!”
Atiku: It’s Time to Reflect on Nigeria’s Democratic Journey
Former Vice President and PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said it was time for Nigerians to reflect as a people and a country on the journey to becoming a democratic society.
In a statement, Atiku said, “For Nigerians, who were around during the dark days of military dictatorships, it is important that we appreciate the successes that we have achieved in making democracy the norm of politics in Nigeria.
“But democracy without a corresponding commitment to the principles of fairness and fidelity to the rule of play by stakeholders in the processes of conducting elections still leaves the people prostrate to tendencies of dictatorship.
“For our democracy to be fully fledged, it must constantly evolve away from the current practice, where the governing elite determines the outcome of elections.
“Many times, when I take stock of the activism that birthed the current democratic dispensation, I am even more convinced that a lot of work still lies ahead.”
Atiku explained that democracy and the process of democratisation were a constant work in progress, adding, “While what we celebrate today is a return to civil rule in Nigeria, the desire to make our democracy self-sustaining and independent of anti-democratic elements is the new frontier of participation by all democrats.”
Obi: Nigeria’s Democracy is Deeply Troubled
Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, said in spite of the successes recorded so far, Nigeria’s democracy was deeply troubled.
Celebrating June 12, and marking Democracy Day, Obi said, “It is a historic day that deserves to be celebrated. On that day in 1993, we, the people of Nigeria, stated our unreserved preference for true democracy. Though under military rule, we freely chose a transparent voting method.
“Our votes reflected our true choice as a people. Our choice on that day defied divisions of ethnicity, religion and region. It is these qualities that added up to make June 12 special in our search for true democracy.
“Our collective choice of the late Chief M. K.O AbIola as a worthy leader for nation was saluted by Nigerians and governments and peoples across the world.
“Therefore, June 12 underpins our long collective journey to nationhood as a true democracy. However, the current state of our politics tells a different story. Our democracy is deeply troubled while our nation’s destiny remains uncertain and precarious.
“We remain a nation in search of solutions to too many basic problems. One of these is the search for a credible electoral system that would command the trust, confidence and belief of all Nigerians, just like June 12 did. We should, therefore, use the commemoration of June 12 as an occasion to return to the true virtues of a truly democratic nation. We achieved that feat on June 12, 1993.
“In the spirit of June 12, therefore, we need to emplace an electoral system that commands the trust of the people. This is in recognition of the tenets and core values of democracy, which rests on respect for the wishes of the people as expressed in their ballots.”
NADECO Wants El-Rufai’s Report on Governance Implemented
National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), yesterday, called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately set in motion modalities for the implementation of the Nasir el-Rufai committee report on federalism, as promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a statement on the 30th anniversary of June 12, the pro-democracy group argued that the military’s abrogation and substitution of Nigeria’s “negotiated federal constitution” resulted in injustice, inequity and disregard for the rule of law.
In the statement, the group argued that all the giant strides recorded by Nigeria’s founding fathers in the First Republic had been significantly destroyed while all the hopes and aspirations of the people at independence were dashed by the politicians in military uniform.
NADECO said it expected Tinubu to return Nigeria to the path of federal constitutional governance upon which Nigeria secured its independence and which most ethnic nationalities, leaders, civil society bodies, and opinion leaders vigorously campaigned for in the last 30 years.
The statement said, “NADECO, therefore, demands from President Tinubu to capture accurately the national mood and demands from his government to implement the report of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s panel, which recommended that APC should fulfil its manifesto promise of returning Nigeria to federal constitutional governance.
“While a return to federal constitutional governance will not immediately solve all the many infractions imposed by the military on our governance, most of the aberrations at the national and sub-national levels can be taken on board for resolutions.”
NADECO urged Tinubu to be conscious of his place in history, advising him that timing remains a critical factor in restructuring the country.
Gbajabiamila Rejoices with Nigerians, Seeks Prayers for Leaders
Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, congratulated Nigerians for their unwavering support for democracy as they marked this year’s Democracy Day.
Gbajabiamila said this year’s Democracy Day was a unique milestone in the country’s democratic journey, with the election of President Bola Tinubu, “a thoroughbred democrat, who is noted for his tenacious defence of democracy.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives noted that his joy stemmed from the fact that Nigerians were set to appreciate the true meaning of democracy because the man in the saddle today was a product of democracy and someone, who understood and appreciated the tenets of democracy and the value it brought to the table of the populace.
According to him, as a true democrat, who was involved in the struggle for the return of democracy to the country and who has finally assumed the position of authority, Tinubu would not shy away from bringing to bear the dividends of democracy Nigerians have been yearning for.
EU Pledges to Strengthen Nigeria’s Democracy
European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) pledged to continue to work assiduously towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and deepening the gains.
EU-SDGN, in a statement yesterday, congratulated the people and government of Nigeria for the strides the country had made along democratic paths since its return to democracy rule in 1999.
It stated, “While pledging to continue to work assiduously towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and deepening the gains that come with it, the EU-SDGN said the National Democracy Day serves to remind Nigerians of how far the country has come since June 12, 1993 and underlines the significant progress and achievements of democracy in the country.
“The cohort noted that the country’s democracy, although not perfect and still growing with pockets of stormy and smooth sails, has brought with it many gains.”
EU-SDGN said it acknowledged the strides made by the country in entrenching democratic values, promoting inclusivity, upholding the principles of good governance, respecting human rights and the rule of law, which are fundamental pillars for democracy all over the world.
It called on all relevant stakeholders, including the government, political parties, civil society, and citizens, to continue their efforts in upholding democratic principles and protecting democratic gains, which are critical condiments for fostering peace, stability, and sustainable development in Nigeria.
It added that through funding it had been working to reinforce democracy by providing support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Assembly, judiciary, political parties, media, women, youth and persons with disabilities and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
EU-SDGN further stressed that through its sundry interventions, the programme had provided technical assistance and capacity building to strengthen democratic institutions, electoral processes, and civil society organisations, adding that its partnerships have also promoted transparency and accountability in government institutions, while also increasing citizens’ engagement to ensure a vibrant and participatory democracy.
Obaseki Urges Nigerians to Keep Faith, Despite Setbacks
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, urged Nigerians to keep faith with democracy, despite setbacks experienced in the country’s democratic journey.
In a statement to commemorate the 2023 Democracy Day, Obaseki hailed the resolve of Nigerians to work collectively for the advancement of democratic ideals.
He said in the statement, “As we mark this year’s Democracy Day, it is imperative to underscore the unwavering resolve of Nigerians to work collectively for the advancement of democratic ideals in our nation.
“Despite the challenges faced, we have held strongly to the vision of our forebears to build a united and strong nation that presents an opportunity for all to aspire, dream and prosper without let in a free society.
“We have shown our preference for democratic rule, time and again and I urge all to continue to play their role in consolidating on our democratic journey.
“Though we have experienced setbacks and challenges as a democracy along the way, I applaud the indomitable Nigerian spirit because we have continued to trudge on and demand for a more transparent, just and fair system. This is even as our faith in the merit and relevance of democracy grows stronger.
“As we progress on this journey, I enjoin Nigerians to continue to keep faith with democracy and sustain the momentum we have gathered in strengthening our institutions. This will ensure that our society gets better through improved representative government in our quest for sustainable growth and development.”