Don’t despair, Buhari assures Nigerians
By Tunde Joshua (Politics Editor) and Friday Omosola (Akure)
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his successor will be elected through a peaceful and transparent process, while their right to choose their government will be preserved and protected.
He also restated his commitment to finding lasting solutions to the hydra- headed insecurity challenges across the country
He made this commitment Sunday morning in his nationwide broadcast to commemorate Democracy Day. June 12 is a day set aside to celebrate freedom and unity of the nation.
Buhari assured the nation of his commitment to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from all enemies from within and outside.
The president said: ” I am also promising you a free, fair and transparent electoral process. And I am pleading with all citizens to come together and work with Government to build a peaceful and prosperous nation.
“Fellow Nigerians this is my last Democracy Day speech as your President. By June 12th, 2023, exactly one year from today, you will already have a new President. I remain committed and determined to ensure that the new President is elected through a peaceful and transparent process.
“It is important for all of us to remember that June 12th, 2023 will be exactly 30 years from the 1993 Presidential elections. In honour and memory of one of our national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola, GCFR, we must all work together to ensure this transition is done in a peaceful manner.”
His hope that this can be achieved was hinged on what he described as positive signs of peaceful conduct of primaries by all registered political parties to select their candidates for the 2023 general elections.
Buhari said “these primaries were peaceful and orderly. Those who won were magnanimous in their victories. Those who lost were gracious in defeat. And those aggrieved opted to seek judicial justice as opposed to jungle justice.
” I followed the party primaries closely from the state level to the Presidential level. I was very impressed to see across all the political parties that, most candidates ran issued based campaigns. The language and tone throughout were on the whole measured and controlled.
” Another positive that came from the 2022 party primaries was the significant increase in women and youth particularly across all parties. I was very pleased to see this development. This augurs well for the future. These trends clearly show the level of maturity our democracy has achieved in the last 23 years.
“As we move into the general election campaign season, we must sustain this mature attitude to campaigning and ultimately, voting. We must never see it as a “do or die” affair. We must all remember democracy is about the will of the majority. There must be winners and losers.”
He charged all candidates to continue running issue-focused campaigns and to treat opponents with dignity. “As leaders, you must all showcase high character and never forget that the world is watching us and Africa looks up to Nigeria to provide example in governance. The tone you set at the top will surely be replicated in your followers,” he said.
The president said his administration has in the past seven years made significant investments to reform and enhance the electoral laws, systems, and processes to safeguard votes.
He, however, said the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary were and still remain united and committed to ensure these reforms are fully implemented in the 2023 general elections.
Buhari the government is working hard to contain and address the rise in insecurity due to terrorist activities in parts of the country. He promised to protect lives of all Nigerians.
To achieve this however, he said “we must all contribute. It is not the job of government alone. I ask all citizens to support and cooperate with our security agencies by reporting any suspicious characters and activities to law enforcement agencies. We can only have a safe country if we are able to prevent crime not after the crime has been committed.”
He urged the citizenry to put all victims of terrorist activities in their thoughts and prayers.
“I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping. I and the security agencies are doing all we can to free those unfortunate countrymen and countrywomen safely.
“For those who have lost their lives, we will continue to seek justice for their families against the perpetrators. For those currently in captivity, we will not stop until they are freed, and their kidnappers are brought to justice. If we all unite, we will be victorious against these agents of terror and destruction.
” We have reformed some of our security structures. Some of the defence assets we procured three years ago have arrived and have been deployed.”
He charged Nigerians to recommit themselves to ensuring protection and preservation of the ideals of democracy, because it marked the end of military rule and the return of power and control to those freely elected by the people.
In 2018, Democracy Day was moved from 29th of May to the 12th of June, a change meant to remind all Nigerians of one free election after which the presumed winner along with Nigerians were denied their rights and their choice.
Buhari said “on June 12th 1993, Nigerians saw the best in our citizens as we all went out to vote peacefully. By June 24th 1993, we also saw the worst of our leadership as the elections were annulled.
“We must never forget the sacrifices of the heroes of Nigeria’s democracy during 1993. Their patriotism and peaceful struggle should guide our actions especially when it comes to electing our leaders and holding them accountable, now and in future.”
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has encouraged Nigerians not to be despair but be hopeful because this year’s Democracy Day “provides us with no room to stomach rhyme and rhetoric. But salient facts, sobriety and promise of a better tomorrow.”
He said the historic June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria, is indeed one ot the most epochal political events in the nation, just before the February 2023 General Elections.
Atiku in a Democracy Day message to Nigerians said ” it is an auspicious period to rally round all compatriots; to think and work in concert for the unity, security, equity, inclusivity, socio-economic prosperity and equitable development of our dear country.
“Let’s seize this unique opportunity of Democracy Day to reinforce our firm commitment to the sacrifices made by the pioneers of our country’s independence, and salute the courage and selflessness of the pathfinders of our current freedom and liberty; by pursuing with vim and vigor the fundamentals of our Constitution, the pillars and principles of rule of law, of electoral transparency and equity and unity in diversity.
“Let’s not despair by folding our arms in hapless helplessness. “The last thing that should die in a person is hope”.
“Meanwhile, let’s continue to do our civic duty and responsibility to salvage our dear country together; saving her from falling off precariously from current socio-economic clift into abysmal catastrophic end of a failed state, as predicted by some naysayers!”
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Awakening the consciousness of Nigerians to their civic responsibilities, he said “thus time is ripe for all adult Nigerians to register to vote; vote and defend their votes. For people’s participation is the beauty of democracy.
“Let’s gather the numbers and commitment to kick out APC – the borrowing and sorrowing party. Let’s remember that Nigeria’s current debt burden stands at over N41 trillion with less than $40billion reserve.
“It is visible that the Buhari administration has brought upon our commonality the worst form of government, where insecurity, disunity, inequity, lack of job opportunity, dwindling economic prosperity and hyper inflation stare us all on the face.
“Hence, we should by next year reject an inept, unpopular and insensitive and clueless APC government.
“A ruling party that offers crass opportunism and cronyism can never elevate nor uplift a diverse and secular country as ours.
“The APC that couldn’t offer Nigerians honesty on their pledged manifestos with regards to security, economic growth and anti-corruption; shouldn’t be honoured with another wasteful tenure of pillage, brigandage and carnage!
“Here’s the season to prove to dishonest APC politicians that power truly belongs to the people via the use of the ballots.
“A government that impoverish us, divides us along our fault lines, make us insecure, make us hungry, starve us of public amenities like electricity and fuel and perpetually shut down gates of universities against our undergraduates, due to no fault of the students and causing untold sorrow to their parents and sponsors; such a party should never be allowed to occupy esteemed offices in government at any level in our country”.
According to the PDP presidential flag bearer, the most pertinent tribute that can effectively bev paid to national heroes past, those who struggled to enthrone and sustain Democracy in Nigeria, “is to kick out the APC; a tainted government that was given a valuable mandate, but came unprepared about what to do.
“They squandered a precious political opportunity, by dashing the hopes of a trusting majority of the electorate. Not again, we should all clamour. Say no to the doom of bad governance; say yes to the prospect of a better Nigeria in 2023.
“Let’s work together to fix our country and return the boom of days of yore. Let’s kick out the APC.
“I stand with you all on the drive to reposition our country for greatness.
“I will unify all and sundry, enforce solid security nationwide, create jobs through private sector unhindered participation and inclusivity, break government monopoly to give wings for business to thrive, provide enabling infrastructural environment to reduce cost of production, cut governance cost through devolution of powers to other tiers of government, and provide incentives to hardworking and entrepreneurial Nigerians.
“Please trust yours truly, to deliver on these promises. We did it in the past under President Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar administration. We paid off Nigeria’s global debt, liberalized the banking and telecommunications sectors, among others”.
He, however said dreams don’t come true, if positive action is not activated and implemented, urging compatriots not rest on their oars, but rekindle hope by not giving up on the dream of a better Nigeria.
Also , Mr Peter Obi, tasked political leaders to avail themselves opportunity of the Democracy Day to reflect on the total dilapidation of the country.
The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, urged to recommit themselves to their constitutional responsibility of providing good governance to the people.
The former governor of Anambra State in his Democracy Day message, bemoaned unabated cases of insecurity, poverty, and unemployment, which he said has left Nigerians devastated and despaired.
He charged leaders yo reflect the philosophy behind the June12 Democracy Day anniversary in the ways they conduct national affairs.
The memorable Day, he said was set aside in remembrance of the collective decision of Nigerians to chart a new course in nation-building which they demonstrated in voting for the late MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993, presidential election.
“Democracy Day is an occasion for reflection and recommitment by our leaders at all levels to provide good governance to the people. It is a moment for stock taking on the extent we have gone in charting a new course in our journey to nation-building which Nigerians demonstrated in voting en masse for MKO Abiola, beyond ethnic and religious lines”, he said.
Obi called on Nigerians not to lose hope but take their fate in their hands by overwhelmingly support him and vote the Labour Party to take over governance if the country come 2023.
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu singled out restructuring as the only panacea for the array of challenges confronting the country, especially insecurity. Akeredolu, who doubles as Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, said the federal government should shed its excesses on the sub-nationals and devolve security to the states. He stated that the political leaders must identify the challenges facing the country and be prepared to tackle them for the benefit of Nigerians.
Akeredolu disclosed this in his June 12 message. He maintained that the time was now to deepen the democratic values that Democracy Day represents. He asserted that it was time to make efforts to ensure that the reason for the Democracy Day celebration was not defeated and the focus must shift mainly to the people.
“Since the people are pivotal to our democratic gains, their well-being and security must be prioritised. There was an urgent need for us to rethink our constitution and address issues that hinder our progress.
“We must be sincere in our approach to securing the lives and property of the people. The Chief Executives of states should not be Chief Security Officers without the prerequisite for necessary security measures. It is time to rise above mere appellation to being pragmatic.
“The symbol of the June 12 struggle paid the supreme sacrifice. Our people must not continue to pay the ultimate price in vain. It is devastating. Let us deepen our Democratic values by devolving power to the sub-nationals. It will strengthen governance and make us stronger.
“Although we are still mourning, we will not forget to join our voices to address the fundamental issues that have remained a clog in the wheel of the country’s progress. This day represents a watershed in the history of democracy in our country. It also symbolises a total rebirth of hope and aspiration. It reinforces not just an enduring hope, but resilience in the face of daunting challenges.”
Akeredolu, who said the country was going through a hard time, stated that the issue of insecurity requires collective efforts.
“We must renew our commitment to the protection of lives and property and our country must explore all angles aimed at securing our space against these divisive elements bent on setting the country on the path of conflagration,” the governor stated.
He said June 12 re-echoes the triumph of the people against tyranny and misrule—enemies of the country must not be allowed to continue attacking the psyche of the people and oppress them with impunity.
“As we celebrate this year’s June 12, our mood in Ondo State was melancholic. Our hearts were still hurt. These mindless elements behind the terror attack at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo drew a dagger into our hearts. Our flags are still flying at half-mast. We are still in shock. Our loved ones who fell to the bullets of these terrorists will never be forgotten,” the Governor said.
He, however, called on the people to reflect on the gains of June 12, as Democracy Day was not only a deft stroke on the canvas of justice a reminder to all of the need to uphold the principle of equity and fairness.
“We must strive to deepen this path of democratic ethos, our resolutions must resonate with the gains of June 12 and this revalidation of hope must be total,” he stressed.
On it’s part, National Orientation Agency (NOA) called on Nigerians to use the day to reflect on their roles in Peace Building and Good Governance for Sustainable Development in our nation.
Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari made the call in a message of felicitation with Nigerians, stressing that recent happenings around the country demand sober reflection to reawaken the conscience of citizens to their collective brotherhood and the need for entrenched peace in the interest of national development.
He said the 2022 Democracy Day celebration provides an opportunity for Nigerians to renew their commitment to democratic tenets of patriotism, discipline, tolerance and social justice, urging Nigerians to make necessary sacrifices to strengthen democratic institutions and practices, especially as the nation prepares for another general elections.
Abari also appealed to public servants, who he described as “the engine room of government and the oil of good governance”, to contribute their quota toward quality service delivery as a hallmark of democracy. He said no government policy, however laudable, can succeed without the impetus of the public service and therefore urged public officers to see their daily service as inputs for the good governance of our country.
The NOA Chief Executive also implored all citizens, both public and private, to lead the charge for sustainable development in their various fields of operation, noting that the economies of nations are built by their citizens, under the guidance of their governments.
While wishing Nigerians a peaceful and memorable Democracy Day celebration, Abari looked forward to great advancements in the nation’s development before the return of the day in 2023.
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