President recommits to good governance Inspects guard of honour to mark event
By Egena Sunday Ode
Five years after the official recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day, President Bola Tinubu and other prominent Nigerians paid glowing tributes to the memories of late Chief MKO Abiola who was believed to have won the 1992 presidential election.
Recall that May 29 had been proclaimed by the Federal Government as Democracy Day since 1999 until 2019 when former Preaident Myhammadu Buhari officially declared June 12 and also conferred a posthumous award of GCFR on Abiola.
Tinubu in particular commended what he deecribed as Chief Abiola’s selfless sacrifice and uncommon courage that propelled him to stand up to the military authorities to claim his mandate until he met his death.
He said Abiola died for a democracy that pro.oted the qwlfare of the people above personal interest of the ruling class, and urged Nigerians to make a little more sacrifice for the survival of the country.
His words: “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.
“The democracy MKO Abiola died for is one that promotes the welfare of the people over personal interests of the ruling class and one where the governed can find personal fulfillment and happiness. That is the hope MKO Abiola ignited throughout our country in 1993.
“On this year’s Democracy Day, I enjoin us all to rededicate ourselves to strengthening this form of government of free peoples that has been our guiding light these past 24 years. In particular, those of us who have been privileged to be elected into public offices at various levels in both the executive and legislative arms of government must recommit ourselves to offering selfless service to the people, and delivering concrete democracy dividends in accordance with our electoral promises.
“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.”
Meanwhile, as part of activities to mark the event, President Bola Tinubu on Monday inspected a Guard of honour at the Forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Ahead of President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, had arrived the venue few minutes earlier after the arrival of President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator George Akume.
Other dignitaries present at the Forecourt to wit eas the event were Lagos State governor, Jide Sanwo-Olu; former Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle; National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu; and the party’s Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore among others.
The Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor led the service chiefs; Inspector-General of Police and other senior security chiefs as well as government officials to witness the ceremonies marking the significance of June 12 1993 presidential election at the State House.
Spwaking to newsmen at the end of the event, former running mate to Abiola in the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Amb Babagana Kingibe, urged Nigerians to see acclaimed winner, MKO Abiola, as a beacon for the direction the nation should take in order to strengthen democracy tenets in the country.
Kingibe affirmed that June 12 will always bring back vivid memories of the whole process and sadness that ensued at the end of the process with the annulment.
“I believe in looking forward and the President in his Democracy Day address has set out the markers as to where we are coming from. He has set up beacons as to the direction we should take to make our country great, to strengthen democracy and to defend democracy at all times.
“And I believe that his speech was really inspiring and I think all right thinking men and women of this country should very carefully go through and be inspired by it and be guided by it. It is a great thing.
On his thoughts whether the country has done enough to recognize what MkO Abiola truly stands for, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation urged Nigerians to be inspired by his courage, adding “Abiola is no more. We can’t bring him back. And whatever we do, will never bring him back to life. But we should never forget.
“We should be inspired by his courage. We should be inspired by his steadfast commitment, and we should be inspired by his willingness to sacrifice his life, which he has, and for which I think the country will forever be grateful.
Also expressing his views on the essence of Democracy Day, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume noted that June 12 was a deliberate attempt to enthroned the sanctity of democracy and due process as far as elections are concerned.
According to him, the day represents “fundamental human rights, the right of people to vote freely and choose their own leaders. The abandonment of this principle will lead to unpleasant consequences by way of demonstrations, when that annulment was made.
“It was long ago, but we give glory to God that today, we are celebrating this very important landmark in the history of our country. Remember, it was 2019 that President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as work free day and by that tradition the present government is continuing to walk in the steps of the last administration.
“And President Tinubu is regarded as one of the most critical persons in the struggle for the attainment of that mandate. And that is why we’re very happy that today he is here as the president.”
Senator Godswill Akpabio described June 12 as a milestone for the country, saying that the nation was already making progress as far as freedom is concerned.
He also said that Nigerians should see it as a period for sober reflection, especially “when you look at the events that happened 30 years ago, the late MKO Abiola—may his soul rest in peace. And then we are celebrating this day, you know to commemorate that event, it is very humbling. And for us to be alive to see this happening and for almost seven times of change of baton in democracy; it shows clearly that Nigeria is moving forward in freedom. And I believe under President Bola Tinubu also in prosperity.”
Also fielding questions, Governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodinma averred that democracy in Nigeria was still in a learning process, adding “we’ll continue to learn like in other climes, that the spirit of sportsman must be deployed, that it’s either you win or you lose.
“When you win, you’ll celebrate, when you lose, you’ll wait for another time. So we’ll continue to advice and encourage practitioners in politics to eschew violence and take to this path of honour,” he said.