As Nigerians mark the maiden addition of June 12, Democracy Day today, in Niger State, there was nothing to suggest that the country was observing one of the most significant days in history.
The absence of the governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso from the state, reduced the occasion to an ordinary public holiday with no activity to mark the all-important day.
Aside government offices and public institutions that were closed in compliance with the public holiday as declared by the Federal government to mark the day, there was nothing on ground to show that the state was also part of the celebration.
Only a press statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alhaji Isah Bala Ibrahim, was the only activity that marked the democracy day in the state
It was gathered that the inability of the governor to make any appointment barely one month after his inauguration compounded the situation with every activity as it ebb.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent expressed displeasure over the governor and his deputy’s absence on an important date such as June 12 “when even world leaders came to celebrate with Nigerians”.
One of the residents, a legal practitioner Mohammed Isah, described the governor’s absence as a bad omen saying that “the Jet Happy” Governor should have sacrificed just today to mark the maiden edition of June 12 Democracy Day before embarking on “his usual trip” out of the state.
“Today is very important and significant to Nigerians; no date can be said to be more important than today in our democratic journey as a country.
Therefore, one should have expected Mr. governor to stay and mark the day as other governors did in their various states.”
The Secretary-General Campaign for Democracy (CD), Comrade Abdullahi Jabi, did not only condemned the governor and his deputy’s absence from the state on a day like this but described their action as insensitivity to the mood of the country.
He pointed out that an ordinary press statement from the Ministry of Information as the only thing to mark June 12 Democracy Day in the state was unacceptable.
“The people would have loved to hear a word from him on this maiden celebration that is marked across the country.
“It is ridiculous; the governor is supposed to be in the state to give the people the feeling of Democracy Day.
“The governor and his deputy are not supposed to leave at the same time as their absence is undemocratic and a violation of the people’s democratic rights”.
“You can see that President Muhammadu Buhari and other world leaders marked Democracy Day with pomp and ceremony but there was no celebration of any sort in Niger State. What a shame, he queried!”
However, the statement from the Ministry of Information read in part that: “Democracy as a system of government has restored the fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by the people and brought development closer to them.”
The statement further commended President Muhammadu Buhari for changing the date of the Democracy Day to June 12 in the interest of peace and national reconciliation.