Tinubu, govs urge Nigerians to defend democracy

Date: 2023-06-13

President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, led other dignitaries to commemorate his first Democracy Day celebration as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Tinubu who had addressed Nigerians in a 7am TV broadcast arrived three hours later to inspect a Guard of Honour at the Forecourt of the Presidential Villa.

Thie was followed by a display by the Guards’ Brigade Cultural Group.

He was joined by Vice President Kashim Shettima, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume.

Also present were the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; former Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle; National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; and the party’s Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore.

The Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, led the service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and other senior security heads to the brief ceremony.

Speaking shortly afterwards, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, said June 12 represents “fundamental human rights, the right of people to vote freely and choose their own leaders.”

He said, “The abandonment of this principle will lead to unpleasant consequences by way of demonstrations, when that annulment was made.

“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.”

On his part, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State harped on the spirit of sportsmanship in politics.

He said, “Democracy itself is a learning process for we, the third-world countries; so, 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 celebrate. When you lose, you wait for another time. So, we’ll continue to advise and encourage practitioners in politics to eschew violence and take to this path of honour.”

Frontline contender for the Senate Presidency, Godswill Akpabio, described June 12 as a milestone for Nigeria, saying the nation was progressing on the course of freedom.

“When you look at the events that happened 30 years ago, the late MKO Abiola — may his soul rest in peace – nd 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,” Akpabio said.

Meanwhile, Chief MKO Abiola’s running mate in the June 12 1993 elections, Babagana Kingibe, said Democracy Day brought back memories of the electoral process and national sadness that followed the annulment.

“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.

“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,” Kingibe said.

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani, said the lessons of the incident should be used to build and renew people’s trust in government while recounting the late MKO Abiola’s huge sacrifices to ensure that democracy thrives in the country.

“The challenge before us, therefore, is how to restore the people’s trust in government and effectively mobilise them for the important task of national renewal. Our country must move in a new direction. We must put in place measures to ensure inclusiveness, responsiveness, fairness, and integrity in policy making and service delivery,” the governor partly said.

His Rivers State counterpart, Siminalayi Fubara, in his own remarks, called on Nigerians to be vigilant in defending and protecting democracy in the country, noting that this was “key to promoting national ideals that constitute the fundamental pillars of nationhood and inspire the basis of her constitutional democracy.”

Likewise, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, again re-emphasised the need to reassess the current socio-political structure in the country to ensure progress and development.

“The need for restructuring has become undeniable. The Federal Government must relinquish its excessive control over subnational entities. It is imperative that security be decentralised to the states. There is no better time than now for the establishment of state police,” the governor noted in the statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, reflecting on the annulled presidential election on Monday, said the struggles and sacrifices of past heroes paved the way for the democracy being enjoyed in the country today.

The President of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, made the submissions in a statement issued in Abuja to commemorate Democracy Day on June 12.

He said, “As we mark this year’s Democracy Day on June 12, I want to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our past heroes who fought for democracy in our land. Their struggles and sacrifices have paved the way for the democratic government we enjoy today. We must never forget their efforts and their contributions to our freedom.”

Also, Kwara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, urged Nigerians to recommit to the ideals of democracy to build a stronger country.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, the governor said the best way to “honour the heroes of democracy and sustain the gains of the era is to recommit to the ideals of democracy and join every effort to build a stronger country through patriotism and collective responsibility.”

In Kebbi State, Governor Nasir Idris urged Nigerians to positively change their attitudes so as to take the country to the next level of development.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ahmed Idris, on Monday, the governor urged Nigerians to remember that “values are the building blocks of national development, and no nation can achieve its developmental aspirations unless its citizens embrace and espouse the right values and attitudes.”



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