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    Wednesday, June 12, 2024

    Democracy Day: Tinubu Hails Abiola, Others, Warns Against Anti-Democratic Forces


    President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday saluted the heroes of democracy on the 25 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in Nigeria.

    The President, in his second Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2024, hailed some pro-democracy arrowheads –those alive and those that have departed.

    Tinubu recognised the labours of the heroes and heroine many of whom died in the struggle. He said “the sacrifices they made, and the precious gift brought about by their selfless devotion can never be repaid. Neither shall it be forgotten”.

    He said, “In this struggle, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, the most significant symbol of our democratic struggle, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Pa Alfred Rewane, among others sacrificed their very lives.

    “They bravely surrendered their futures, so that our nation might have a better one.

    “Let us honour the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have transited to the higher realm.

    “The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile.

    “While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military brass hats. Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun.“

    The President also recognised the sacrifices of the press and Nigerian journalists “who mounted the barricades along with the pro-democracy activists”.

    ‘Nigeria Must Continue With Democracy’

    He said despite the challenges 25 years after the nation’s return from military regime to civil rule, Nigeria must continue with the choice of democracy.

    “My dear compatriots, Nigeria faced a decision of untold gravity twenty-five years ago: Whether to veer toward a better destination or continue aimlessly in the fog of dictatorship. We made the right choice then. We must continue with that choice now,” the President said.

    Warns Against Anti-Democratic Forces

    He warned against anti-democratic forces “who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given”.

    “These people do this not to make things better but to subject all other people and things to their control and dominance until the point that, if you are not counted among their elite, then your life will be small and no longer owned by you.”

    ‘I’m A Beneficiary Of Democracy’

    Tinubu, a former NADECO chief, described himself as a direct beneficiary of democracy and pledged to protect fundamental human rights and the principles of democratic governance.

    “I stand uniquely placed in this regard. I was among those who took the risk to midwife the birth of our democracy. I am now a direct and obvious beneficiary of the fruits of those historic efforts.

    “As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria.

    “Even more than that, I pledge to do whatever is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life.”

    With its return to democracy from the dark years of military rule on May 29, 1999, Nigeria celebrated Democracy Day every year on May 29. The day is to celebrate the ideals of democracy since the beginning of the Fourth Republic 25 years ago.

    In 2018, the President Muhammadu Buhari moved Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 in honour of one of the national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola and “to remind all Nigerians of one free election after which the presumed winner (Abiola) along with Nigerians were denied their rights and their choice”.

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