Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said the June 12, 1993 presidential election signifies the soul of Nigeria’s democratic struggle and a threshold in the life of the nation.
Atiku noted that the significance of celebrating the June 12 presidential election was a reminder of a national history to becoming a democratic country.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, by his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, the former Vice-President recalled how Nigerians, on that day, voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.
The statement said: “The collective decision by Nigerians to elect democracy on that day was not to aggrandise the political elite or to replace military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. No! The choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.
“Suffice it to state that the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day – much as celebratory and commendable it might seem. The idea behind the event of June 12, 1993 embodies something much more bigger than that.
“It was a threshold moment in our national life, which demands of us as democrats to do a soul-searching and ask the salient question of all time: how better off are Nigerians?”
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, noted that it is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.
Atiku said: “It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when the ordinary people of Nigeria still don’t have the freedom to find a better life from the suffocating grip of poverty, when Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when a disproportionate number of citizens are not sure of where their next meal will come from and when the sanctity of their lives is not guaranteed.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when freedom of the press, and of speech, fundamentals of democracy is being assailed.
“As a compatriot who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the icon of the June 12 struggle, Chief M. K. O. Abiola of blessed memory, I know first-hand that the choice of HOPE, as his campaign slogan, was not merely a populist tokenism.
“He (Abiola) did not mean to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon. And, today, the minimum requirement for any June 12 convert is to demand of them wherever they may be – either in government or in private lives – to deliver on the promises they made to the people.
“It is, therefore, not acceptable that an administration which had an opportunity of four years to deliver the promise of change to Nigerians, not only reneged on that promise, but propelled the country into a near-comatose state will lay claims to being a true friend of the June 12 struggle.”
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