Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Chukwudi Nweje
As Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged President Muhammadu Buhari to show commitment to reform of the electoral system.
At a state of the nation press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, accused President Buhari of aborting the amendment of the electoral act in the eighth Assembly.
“Going by the election that we have had after the killing of the amendment, it shows clearly that we cannot continue on electioneering that will take charge of the exigencies like what happened in the last Kogi governorship election.”
He added that failure to urgently initiate electoral reforms was a deliberate plot by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to enthrone a state of “nature where the will of any individual, supported by bandits and vagabonds will become the norm.”
He said the demand of the opposition party is for President Buhari to address issues relating to the amendment of the electoral act in June 12 broadcast today, as well as initiate the process of sending an electoral act amendment bill to the National Assembly within 14 days, with a commitment to sign the amendment, when it is signed by the legislature.
It must not be mere rituals –Tinubu
National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has charged Nigerians to ensure the commemoration of Democracy Day does not become mere rituals.
In a message he personally signed, Tinubu described the late Abiola as the true hero of democracy, without who Nigeria would not have known democracy.
“Bashorun Moshood Abiola stood fast and strong despite the enormous pressure against him. Those who hated democracy and equality tried to break his spirit and make him lose hope that democracy would ever come to our land. Abiola withstood it all and held to a dream. They could not crush his spirit so they took his body. They did not allow his dream turn to reality but victory was still his because he held fast with uncommon determination and principle. In spirit, Abiola was truly the first president of this democratic period.
“Democracy Day and our commemoration of it must not descend into empty ritual. We, as a people, have chosen democracy as our preferred form of governance not because it is easy to hold and make work. We choose democracy because it is the most humane and representative form of government the human mind has thus far devised and imagined.”
The former governor of Lagos State said that the events of June 12, 1993 changed Nigeria profoundly and asked that those who died in the struggle of The June 12 mandate should not be forgotten.
“People like late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, late Gani Fawehinmi, Baba Omojola, late Pa Rewane, late Pa Enahoro, Baba Ajasin, Pa Adesanya, Baba Adebanjo, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Femi Falana, members of the civil society groups, student-activists and others fought hard and struggled mightily on our behalf. Many laid down their lives that we may have this brighter moment. They fought not that we would have democracy day but that Nigeria might exist as a democracy every day. On this day, we duly honour such patriots. We remember them and commend their sacrifice. We mark this day that we not take this good form of government or their august labour for granted. We must keep and nurture democracy, not for its own sake, but for ours.’
Tinubu said the celebration of Democracy Day on June 12 should be a constant reminder to every Nigerian of the country’s democratic journey.
“In this, we dare not forget how we got to this point. Planting the seedlings of democracy required much toil and sacrifice. Many potent forces tried to prevent both the planting and the harvest. Many people who we do not even know gave of themselves and lost life or limb to bring this moment to pass. Nigerians deserve congratulations and commendation for their investment in democracy and for how far we have come,” he said.
Obi calls for sober reflection
Vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi, reminded Nigerians that democracy remained the bedrock on which the country was built, while urging all to hold on to every democratic ideal that would push the country forward in spite of so many challenges facing the nation.
In a statement, Obi encouraged Nigerians to strive towards achieving better democratic ideals so that the country will reap greater dividends of democracy.
He explained that the democracy Nigeria enjoys did not come on a platter of gold, but regretted that not much have 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.
Struggle continues until Nigeria is restructured -Gani Adams
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, has described June 12 1993 annulled election as the most defining moment in Nigeria’s history,saying the struggle to free Nigerians from the shackles of bondage will continue until the country is restructured into federating units
He expressed joy that part of the dreams of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) under his leadership, has been realised with the celebration of June 12 as the authentic democracy day.
The Yoruba leader, however, regretted that despite the sacrifices of the activists and pro-democracy groups, democracy is yet to take its root in Nigeria.
He expressed hope that Nigeria can only get it right with true federalism, pointing out that the only way out of the political logjam is to let the federating states develop at their own pace.
“When the federating units are allowed to develop at their own pace, there will be mutual benefits and progress. The federating states will be geared towards achieving the best for the people at the grassroots. This is possible when there is healthy competitions among the federating units. The issue of security and state police would be taken care of without fair or favour. That is how it is in other climes where democracy thrives”
“It is good that our democracy is evolving, but sadly, it is not yet Uhuru because this is not the kind of democracy we fought for during the June 12 struggle. It is far different from what we are seeing now”.
Nothing to celebrate –Onitiri
Political activist cum social critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, has accused political players, leaders and appointees of betraying the sacrifice and message of June12 which the late Abiola struggled and died for.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday, he claimed there was no democratic government in Nigeria.
“The larger majority of Nigerians can now not breathe under the yoke of the oppression. We are not there yet. We are now farther than nearer democracy.”
He noted in the 27 years of the so-called democratic rule, Nigerians cannot boast of dividends of Democracy. No good Governance. No good roads. There is totally lack of infrastructures.
June 12: Buhari to address nation
Meanwhile, President Buhari will broadcast to the nation at 7am today.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, advised television and radio stations as well as other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast.
Buhari had in 2018 declared June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, in place of May 29, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Fourth Republic, which since 2000 had been marked as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
The president had said the change was in honour of the memory of Abiola, who won the June 12, 1993 election that was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.
Abiola eventually died in detention on July 8, 1998, while being held for declaring himself president over the annulled poll.