June 12 Democracy Day: Leaders Salute Nigeria’s 25 Years Unbroken Democratic Experience

Sylvester Idowu in Warri, Wale Igbintade in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta

Leaders and groups from across the country have continued to send messages of goodwill to celebrate Nigeria’s 25 years of uninterrupted democracy, as the nation commemorated Democracy Day yesterday.

From words of commendation, to caution, and outright rebuke, it was a ceremony well marked in capital cities across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The two decades and a half democratic experience since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999 followed a chequered history of internecine military interventions in politics.

In speeches and messages to mark Democracy Day, yesterday, many Nigerians believed their democratic journey was worth celebrating, despite hiccups along the way. 

Dafinone: Let Us Remember Sacrifices of Those Who Fought for Democracy

The senator for Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ede Dafinone, urged Nigerians to remember the sacrifices of those who fought valiantly for the democracy the country now enjoyed.

The renowned accountant, now a lawmaker, while congratulating President Bola Tinubu, the people of Delta Central, and Nigerians, in a signed statement issued yesterday, said Nigeria’s 25 years of unbroken democratic governance was a testament to the resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment of the citizens to the principles of democracy and freedom.

Dafinone called on Nigerians to embrace unity, love, and respect for one another. He encouraged citizens to deepen their engagement in participatory democracy, and guard against antidemocratic tendencies at all levels of society.

In the statement titled, “Celebrating 25 Years of Unbroken Democratic Rule in Nigeria,” Dafinone said, “This significant milestone is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment of the Nigerian people to the principles of democracy and freedom.

“As we celebrate this historic day, let us remember the sacrifices of those who fought valiantly for the democracy we now enjoy. June 12th is not just a date; it symbolises our collective struggle for justice, equity, and the rule of law. It is a reminder of the power of the people’s voice and the strength of our democratic institutions.”

Dafinone urged Nigerians to embrace unity, saying, “In our diversity lies our strength, and it is only through mutual understanding and cooperation that we can achieve the greatness we aspire to as a nation. Let us set aside our differences and work together towards a common goal: a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nigeria.”

He added, “As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let us renew our commitment to building a Nigeria where democracy thrives, where every citizen enjoys their fundamental rights, and where the future is bright for generations to come.”

Youth Party Tasks Tinubu on Cost of Living

Youth Party called on President Bola Tinubu to address the rising cost of living and minimum wage, as part of democracy dividends, with the same speed the old National Anthem was reintroduced and passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

The party, in a statement by its

 National Publicity Secretary, Ayodele Adio, accused the federal government of lacking seriousness in its dialogue with labour on the minimum wage.

The party stated, “If the National Assembly can pass the national anthem into law within a short period of time, they should be able to pass the minimum wage act into law without further delay.”

The party faulted the payment of N90 billion by the federal government to subsidise the cost of the 2024 hajj pilgrimage.

It sated, “Federal Government should not only be concerned about spending N344.85 billion on the National Assembly of less than 500 Nigerian legislators, with N180 million worth of Jeep for each legislator, or N90 billion to subsidise hajj or N15 billion to repair Vice President’s office, but be serious about reducing the burden on Nigerian masses.”

Youth Party stated, “We are celebrating Democracy Day, but how have we fared as a nation democratically?

“Some states have not conducted local government elections in over 10 years. Cost of living is beyond the reach of the poor. Minimum wage is not a living wage and the government is not serious in addressing all these challenges.”

The party advised Tinubu to provide good governance and economically empower the middle class, adding that the challenges facing the country require immediate rebuilding of Nigeria’s economic and socio-political institutions through good governance.

It feted democracy heroes, including Chief Moshood Abiola, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alfred Rewane, Frank Kokori, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kalu, Wole Soyinka, Kunle Ajibade, and Col. Abubakar Umar.

Yiaga Africa: Nigeria’s Democracy Shows Signs of Progress, But Challenges Persist

Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation (CSO), yesterday, said Nigeria’s democracy had made progress, but still grappled with many challenges.

In a Democracy Day statement signed by Yiaga Africa Executive Director, Samson Itodo, the organisation said since the return to democratic rule, Nigeria had witnessed incremental political, social, and economic gains.

It said democracy had enabled increased citizen participation and strengthened democratic institutions.

Yiaga Africa stated that although “Nigeria’s democracy shows signs of progress, significant challenges remain.

“Incidences of election malpractices, electoral violence and intimidation remain a significant concern, deterring voter participation and compromising the integrity of elections.”

The organisation said, “Corruption and lack of accountability by public leaders continue to plague Nigeria’s political landscape, eroding public trust in democratic institutions.

“Despite progress, women, youth, and persons with disability remain underrepresented in political leadership and decision-making processes. Deep-seated socio-economic inequalities hinder the full realization of democratic rights for many Nigerians.

“Journalists, civic activists and citizens experience attacks, intimidation, frivolous litigation, and unlawful detention by state forces for speaking truth to power.”

Yiaga Africa said addressing the challenges required negotiating a new social compact between the government and citizens, which could help restore trust in the government.

Yiaga Africa said the social compact should also “deepen public accountability and ensure consequences for breaches of public trust and protect human rights and civil liberties, especially press freedom, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful assembly”.

June 12: Abiodun Commutes Death Sentences of 45 Inmates, Pardons 41 Others

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, commuted the death sentence of 45 condemned prisoners to prison terms, in exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy, to mark Democracy Day.

Abiodun also granted pardon to 41 other inmates serving in different correctional centres across the state.

The governor announced the gestures at an event to commemorate the 2024 Democracy Day, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta.

He said, “Government has a duty to uphold democratic values by consistently applying principles of mercy, justice, and the rule of law. In this vein, the Nigerian constitution empowers me to exercise a prerogative of mercy to anyone convicted of an offense in Ogun State.

“Having received the guidance of the Ogun State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, I have signed the appropriate warrants ordering the release of 41 convicts currently imprisoned across different correctional facilities in Ogun State. I have also signed warrants converting the death sentences of 45 inmates to prison sentences.

“This gesture signals a break from past grievances and a move towards a more inclusive and compassionate society where merciful second chances are granted to deserving offenders.

“All convicts who have received this gesture have shown remorse for their crimes, acquired skills and certifications in prison, with several of them receiving university degrees from the National Open University of Nigeria. They have also demonstrated verified good conduct during their imprisonment.”

He said the celebration held immense significance, as it marked the triumph of democracy, the power of the people, and the pursuit of justice and freedom.

The governor said, “June 12, 1993 stands as a watershed moment in this journey. On that particular day, Nigerians transcended differences of tribe, gender, and even the unique joint Muslim-Muslim ticket to speak unanimously through the ballot.”

He said the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Moshood Abiola, though annulled by the military, but hailed globally acclaimed as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, “remains a pivotal moment in our country’s democratic history. It has become the benchmark against which the successes of subsequent elections are measured. For all its import, it reminds us of the power of unity, resilience, and the collective determination to uphold the principles of democracy”.

‘We Are On Course to Build Resilient Nation’

All Progressives Congress (APC) said despite the imperfections associated with democracy, it had set the country on course to build a strong, vibrant and resilient nation.

APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, in a statement issued Wednesday, said Nigerians must take pride in the remarkable achievement that the country was celebrating 25 years of democracy.

Morka said embedded the idea of political democracy was the intrinsic and instrumental value of the sovereign power that it bestowed on citizens to choose, of their own free will, those who govern as well as the power to hold them accountable through periodic elections and other constitutionally enshrined mechanisms.

He stated, “However, like with every human device and agency, democracy is not without its imperfections and challenges.

“Our country has had its fair share of setbacks, pain and disappointments. These are inevitable and inescapable by-products of democratic construction. But importantly, it has set us, irreversibly, on course to build a strong, vibrant and resilient nation.

“Democracy provides us the opportunity of essential freedom to harness our finest human and material resources, under the participatory authority of our people, for beneficial and sustainable governance.”

Southern Senators Call for Resilience in Face of Challenges

Southern Senators’ Forum saluted the perseverance and resilience of Nigerians in the face of challenges as the country marked its 25th year of democracy yesterday. This was contained in a message addressed to Nigerians and signed by the forum’s chairman, Senator Tokunbo Abiru; General Secretary, Senator Barinada Mpigi (Rivers, South/East); and Publicity Secretary, Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong (Cross River South) in Abuja.

The statement read, “Democracy Day marks a significant milestone in our national history.  It is a day to reflect on the journey we have undertaken as a people to uphold democratic values, to appreciate the progress we have made, and to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for all citizens.

“On this auspicious occasion of Democracy Day 2024, we celebrate not just the establishment of democratic governance in our beloved country, but the enduring spirit of the Nigerian people, who have shown remarkable resilience, determination, and unity in the face of diverse challenges.

“As we commemorate this day, let us remember the sacrifices of those who fought tirelessly for the democracy we enjoy today.

“We remember, in particular, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola GCFR, the acclaimed winner of the June, 12, 1993 presidential elections.

“Their vision and dedication laid the foundation for a Nigeria where every voice is heard, where governance is by the people and for the people, and where the rule of law prevails.

“In the spirit of democracy, it is imperative that we continue to strengthen our institutions, ensure transparency and accountability in governance, and foster an environment where the rights and freedoms of every Nigerian are respected and protected.”

Members of the southern senators forum declared their commitment to inclusive growth and unity.

Our strength lies in our diversity, and it is through embracing our differences and working together that we can achieve the greatness that Nigeria is destined for,” the statement said.

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