- As Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day, Atiku Abubakar has called on all true lovers of democracy to keep the hope alive
- According to the ex-vice president, it is not enough to declare June 12 as a Democracy Day as it embodies something much bigger
- Atiku took a swipe at Buhari's government, saying Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has said June 12 is at the soul of Nigeria'a democratic struggle and a threshold in national life.
In a statement released on Wednesday June 12, Atiku said the significance of the celebration of June 12, 1993, presidential election is a reminder of the nation's history to becoming a democratic country.
He said 26-years ago, Nigerians voted for democracy against oppressive totalitarianism. "The collective decision by Nigerians to elect 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.
According to the former vice president, the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day. He said it embodies something much bigger.
He said: "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?
"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.
"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."
Atiku called on every June 12 convert 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.
He said: "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."
The ex-vice president state that to be a lover of June 12 is to believe in the common good of the people. He said June 12 is not about the inclination for shared pains; but about shared prosperity.
"As we celebrate yet another episode of the June 12 struggle, the desire for hope is more preponderant today much as it was twenty-six years ago. So, for all true lovers of democracy, let us keep the hope alive," he added.
Buhari had earlier on June 6, 2018, declared that June 12 would be the new Democracy Day in commemoration of the presidential election of June 12, 1993, presumed to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.
The president on Monday, June 10, signed into law the Public Holiday (Amendment) Bill which accommodates June 12 as the new Nigeria’s Democracy Day, replacing May 29.
Presidential aide, Senator Ita Enang, explained that the newly amended law allows public holiday to be declared on June 12, every year while May 29th will no longer be public holiday.
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