National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has urged Nigerians to seize the opportunity of today’s celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day to renew their commitment to utilizing democracy as a vehicle for eliminating poverty as well as providing prosperity and better life for the teeming population.
This is as Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, also yesterday, called for a non-partisan, broad-based government, saying it is undeniable that the social crisis plaguing the country is beyond the capacity of any government built on accustomed partisan loyalties and regimented thought processes, with their debilitating baggage of sectarian interests.
Tinubu, in a statement entitled: “June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land,” pointed out that deep aversion to poverty and the avoidable suffering of majority of Nigerians were what compelled Chief MKO Abiola – winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election – to contest Nigeria’s presidency.
His words: “As we kick off from today the annual celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, let us renew our commitment to utilizing democracy as a vehicle for eliminating poverty in our land as well as providing prosperity and life more abundant for the teeming millions of our people.
“It was indeed his deep aversion to poverty and the avoidable suffering of the majority of our people that compelled Chief MKO Abiola to contest Nigeria’s presidency and thus his campaign slogan was ‘Farewell to Poverty.’ The problem of poverty remains primal and fundamental in our land today.
“Indeed, at the root of the severe existential challenges, which confront the country today such as religious extremism, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cultism, ritual killing, armed, robbery, communal violence and herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others, is the protracted economic crisis that has worsened poverty, unemployment and inequality in Nigeria over the last four decades.
“It is, indeed, incumbent on us all, particularly those in positions of authority at all levels, to vigorously support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as it invests massively and on an unprecedented scale in the renewal and expansion of infrastructure as well as its various social intervention programmes aimed at uplifting the vast majority of our people out of dehumanizing poverty, political instability and insecurity.
“We must take concerted efforts to banish poverty from Nigeria. To rid Nigeria of poverty is indeed a task that must be done. As the historic restoration of June 12 to its proper place by the Buhari administration sets democracy free to soar in our land, let us rededicate ourselves to the challenge of utilizing democracy to set Nigeria free from poverty.”
Tinubu, who appraised Nigeria’s democratic evolution, said as important as it is, May 29 does not carry the weight of significance that June 12 carries in the country’s democratic sojourn.
He said what the country had been commemorating on May 29 of every year since the democratic restoration of 1999, has been the day of the handover of power from the military regime to the elected civilian administration.
“The democracy we enjoy today was not won on a peaceful and comfortable ‘platter of gold.’ It was not gifted to Nigerians by a benevolent military regime. It is the product of the sweat, tears, blood, pain, toil and anguish of millions of Nigerians. That is why we can never afford to take it for granted or do anything to threaten its existence.
“June 12 must serve as a continual reminder to Nigerians on the imperative of pursuing the cause of justice in all spheres of our lives at all times as a necessary condition for peace, prosperity and progress.
“Today, we commemorate the country’s emergent democracy in a way that is certainly more spiritually fulfilling and psychologically satisfying than has ever been the case since 1999. Thanks to the administration of President Buhari and the assent of the National Assembly, we are for the first time today celebrating our democracy as a nation on a historic day, June 12, which coincides with the day that the seed of today’s democratic sprouting was sown 26 years ago.
“Observing May 29 as Democracy Day delinks the country’s democratic experience since 1999 from the protracted and bitter struggle against military dictatorship from June 12, 1993, till the forced exit of the military in 1999. Without those who stoutly stood on June 12 and sacrificed life, limb, freedom, economic ruin, psychological devastation and more in the battle against tyranny, there would most certainly not have been any May 29, 1999 handover to commemorate.
“May 29 does not carry the weight of significance that June 12 does in Nige ria’s democratic evolution. May 29th is, at best, an arbitrary date on which the military chose to hand over the reins of power to an elected civilian government in 1999,” the APC national leader said.
Soyinka, who noted that though he is aware that his call for a broad-based government is unlikely to be heeded, however, said: “…but let it be made anyway, and let it stand to trouble those who discard any opportunity to turn a radical page in a nation’s history.”
He revealed that he will not participate in this year’s June 12 celebrations “from choice,” and added: “Democracy Day deserves truthful confrontation with the socio-political conditions that we have brought into being to plague ourselves and thus, compels our acceptance of responsibility for whatever, and wherever roles are traceable to one and all in that process.”
His piece: “A Democracy Day Primer – 1” further read in part: “This year’s recall of an uplifting day in the year 1993 comes up against a background of its most shameful disavowal: the 2019 elections – still under judicial contestation – an event that would be more accurately described as an exercise in body count rather than ballot count.
“The elections, however, merely reflected a pattern of savagery and abandonment of human sensibilities that have eaten away the sheerest sense of community in the nation. I have already described it as the final descent into the abyss of human degradation.
“The recent call – no matter how suspect the motivation – for what amounts to a national discourse on future directions was nothing new. The Nigeria Mourns movement, for instance, is only another expression of the same desperation. Input from someone who has exercised control over the nation’s affairs for a total of close to a dozen years, with shared responsibility for the very predicament in which the nation finds itself, reinforces the general anxieties that have become palpable in every corner of the nation – across class, political partisanship, religion and ethnicity.
“I wish to take the notion of a national ‘indaba’ even further, and urge a non-partisan, broad-based government. The now undeniable social crisis is beyond the capacity of any government built on accustomed partisan loyalties and regimented thought processes, with their debilitating baggage of sectarian interests.
“…As if the crisis was not sufficient in itself, we are constantly distracted by crude attempts to distort the role of the past in a nation’s unraveling.”
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