JUNE 12: ‘How to deepen democracy, save Nigeria’

Late MKO Abiola

*PDP flays Buhari, APC, says democracy endangered in past five years
*Democracy must be made our way of life — APC
*Our best not good enough — Atiku,
*It’s time for sober reflection — Obi
*Let’s remember our founding fathers — Shonibare
*Nigeria’ll achieve nothing without unity — Obasa

By Clifford Ndujihe, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Ebunoluwa Sessou, Dirisu Yakubu, Omeiza Ajayi & Olayinka Ajayi
AS Nigerians mark the first anniversary of the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day today, some eminent Nigerians and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, reviewed the state of the nation and outlined measures to entrench democracy in the country.
The main opposition PDP took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, saying all the virtues that the June 12 symbolises in the life of the nation have been eroded by APC.
Former Vice President and 2019 presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, berated the nation’s political leadership, saying democracy is yet to avail Nigerians the dividends they yearn for.
Atiku’s running mate in 2019, Mr. Peter Obi, reminded Nigerians that democracy remained the bedrock on which the country was built and urging all to hold on to every democratic ideal that would push the country forward in spite of so many challenges facing the nation.
Acting National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Chief Supo Shonibare said we must return Nigeria to the path of June 12, free and fair elections.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has addressed the nation on Democracy Day, today, Friday, June 12, where he claimed to have achieved notable development.
June 12 virtues eroded – PDP
Addressing journalists in Abuja, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said though the symbol of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, MKO Abiola, lived and died for “credible electoral process, respect for rule of law, regard for constitutional separation of powers and unity, national cohesion and sensibility of Nigerians,” among others, same “have been violated by the Buhari Presidency and the APC.”
The text of the conference read in part: “At the foundation of every genuine democracy is a credible electoral process. Painfully, the Buhari Presidency and the APC have continued to suppress every genuine effort for reforms that will improve our electoral processes.
“It is instructive to note that President Buhari and APC came to power in 2015 as a result of electoral reform carried out by PDP administration.
“Sadly, Mr. President has frustrated every move to ensure more credible election, particularly by refusing to sign the Electoral Act Amendment bill sent to him by the NASS.
“In the last five years, our democracy has been under siege and witnessed the worst forms of violations in our political history.”
The party listed some of the alleged ills of the Buhari-led government to include “electoral malpractices, nepotism in appointments, political intolerance, violation of constitutional provisions, financial recklessness and disobedience of court orders.”
It called on the President to use the last three years of his final tenure in office to restore the credibility of elections in the country, and to end rights abuses and violation, nepotism and divisive body language associated with his administration.
It added: “Our party therefore, demands that President Buhari speaks to the issue of amendment to the Electoral Act in his June 12 address and to within the next 14 days, initiate the process of returning the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to the National Assembly, with a strong commitment to sign it into law immediately it is passed by the legislature.
“Any failure to initiate an electoral reform will amount to a deliberate plot by the APC to kill our hard-earned democracy and return our nation to a state of nature where the will of any individual, supported by bandits and vagabonds will become the norm.”
ALSO READ: Those jeopardising our democracy didn’t pay any price for June 12 — Igini
Democracy must be made our way of life — APC
On its part, the APC congratulated Nigerians on the occasion of the 2020 Democracy Day, and urged them to make democracy a way of life.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said undoubtedly, the declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day by the APC-led Federal Government has further cemented the credentials of President Buhari as a true and genuine democrat.
“President Buhari displayed political will in recognising and appreciating the sacrifices of many Nigerians in the enthronement of democracy in our nation and the ultimate prize paid by the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Chief Moshood Abiola,” APC said.
The party added that in the annals of Nigeria’s political trajectory, June 12 would remain a historic day.
“This undisputed fact, which President Buhari-led government has officially recognised as a national holiday, is a testament of our party’s appreciation on the huge significance of the day.
“Going forward, the APC-led government would, in words and actions, continue to promote and consolidate on the gains of democratic governance in the country, with a view to entrenching its finest ideals on our body polity, while calling on all well meaning Nigerians to imbibe this spirit in the overall interest of our beloved country”, APC added.
June 12 Democracy Day: Obi calls for sober reflection
Former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi encouraged Nigerians to strive towards achieving better democratic ideals so that the country will reap greater dividends of democracy.
Obi explained that the democracy Nigeria enjoys today did not come on a platter of gold, and regretted that not much has been achieved in the country due to accumulated years of leadership failure.
He said the major challenge was leaders sacrificing and focusing on the future, especially those things that made other countries to progress.
He said the COVID – 19 pandemics presented Nigeria with another opportunity to look inwards.
His words: “Today, we are presented with another opportunity to rejoice, but the truth is that there is not much to be happy for. All we need is inward introspection about the ills of the country and the resolve to mend our ways for the benefit of our children.”
Our best has not been good enough – Atiku
Lamenting that 21 years of democracy is yet to avail Nigerians the dividends they yearn for, Atiku in a statement to mark the first anniversary of June 12 Democracy Day, called on voters to spare a thought for posterity in their choice of political leadership in subsequent elections.
The statement read in part: “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 far.
“As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonise 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.”
He also called for the immortalisation of democracy heroes saying, “along the line in the struggle which spanned decades, many a compatriots 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.
“Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and many more too numerous to mention, who lost their lives in order for us to have a democracy.”
Nigeria’ll achieve nothing without unity — Obasa
Meanwhile, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, has said that Nigerians will not be able to achieve much without unity in the country.
He said this while joining other Nigerians in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day, noting that June 12, 1993 was a manifestation of unity, an election during which Nigerians jettisoned the primordial sentiments of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry.”
His words: “There is no arguing the fact that the collective hope we all have today has its foundation on the June 12, 1993 election and the struggles that followed its annulment.
“As we commemorate that day again, we must remember the Nigerians who became victims just for democracy to be born in 1999 and remain conscious of our actions, love ourselves and our country and do only those things that would sustain our historical and democratic existence.”
Shonibare to FG: Remember founding fathers, return Nigeria to path of June 12
To Chief Shonibare, “as we celebrate Democracy Day today, we must remember our founding fathers — Mr. Ernest Ikoli, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Mallam Aminu Kano, Mr Joseph Tarka, Dr. Michael Okpara, Dr. Denis Osadebey and so many other leaders, who all worked to usher in a democratic, federal, independent nation.”
Recalling the significance of the June 12 poll, sacrifices of heroes and heroines, he said: “That election of June 12, 1993 has set the benchmark for free and fair elections in Nigeria.
“We must return our country to the path and spirit of June 12. Those who emerge from rigged and contrived elections may be our rulers, but they are not our elected leaders.
”We need to build up forces in the civil society groups and progressive political parties and the nation at large, to unite to found a political vehicle capable of championing the need to quickly evolve a united federal democratic culture, able to rescue the nation from the downward slide to the precipice of being a failed nation, with the attendant chaos and breakdown of law and order which that portends.
“We must use this day to begin to mobilise for that new deal for a virile federal entity united in developing in our diverse entities.”
Vanguard
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