Former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar says the celebration of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, is a reminder of the nation’s history to becoming a democratic country.
Atiku stated this in a press release issued on Wednesday, titled “June 12 At The Soul Of Our Democratic Struggle; A Threshold In Our National Life”.
He recalled that “On this day, 26 years ago, Nigeria voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.”
According to him, the collective decision by Nigerians in favour of democracy on that day, was not to aggrandize the political elite or to replace the military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. “No! The choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.
He said as celebratory and commendable the declaration of June 12 as a democracy day might seem, the idea behind the event of June 12, 1993 embodies something much bigger than that.
“It was a threshold moment in our national life that demands of us as democrats to do a soul searching and ask the salient question of all time: how better off are Nigerians?
He stated that it is not enough to declare June 12 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.
“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 are being assailed.
“As a compatriot who stood shoulder to shoulder with the icon of the June 12 struggle, Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory, I know first-hand that the choice of HOPE as his campaign slogan wasn’t merely a populist tokenism. He didn’t mean to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon,” he said.
He, therefore, called on all June 12 converts, either in government or in private lives, to deliver on the promises they made to the people.
He said it is 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 only to lay claims to being a true friend of the June 12 struggle.
Atiku said to be a lover of June 12 is to believe in the common good of the people, the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy, creating wealth and jobs for the teeming mass of unemployed among others.
“As we celebrate yet another episode of the June 12 struggle, the desire for hope is more preponderant today much as it was 26 years ago. So, for all true lovers of democracy, let us keep the hope alive,” he added.