Nigerians determined to sustain democracy, Uzodinma affirms

By Athan Agbakwuru, Owerri

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma has applauded the unwavering spirit of Nigerians in the face of the multifarious daunting challenges bedeviling the country. He noted that the citizens by their resilience over the years have shown their determination to sustain democracy for the good of the nation.

He made the assertion in his message to the people of Imo State as part of activities to mark the 2023 Democracy Day celebration.

According to him, the June 12 Democracy Day celebration should be a day of sober reflection by the political elite and the entire populace on how to keep faith with the spirit of the struggle. The governor stated that the event of June 12 has taught Nigerians the lesson that citizens have power to freely elect their own leaders stressing that if the citizens fail in their civic responsibilities to turn out to vote come 2023, they will have themselves to blame.

His words, “It gives me a great pleasure to address the good people of Imo State today on the auspicious occasion of this year’s Democracy Day celebration. For our young ones, June 12, 1993, was the day Nigeria conducted what has been described as the fairest and freest presidential election in the nation’s modern history. But it was annulled by the then government, thus precipitating a long and bitter struggle for freedom and democracy.

“In the course of that struggle, some of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice, others went into exile while others were incarcerated. By the grace of God and consequent upon the relentless struggles, the country returned to democratic rule on May 29th. Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari did the needful by institutionalising June 12 as Democracy Day, which serves as acknowledgement of the the foundational impetus that led to the struggle for democracy.

“Today, is therefore symbolic because it resonates our collective struggle and our resilience as a people to enthrone and sustain democracy. June 12th serves as a constant reminder to all of us that no force on earth can stop the will of the people if they are determined. It is a clear pointer to the age long fact that power and sovereignty belongs to the people. Let me therefore use this auspicious occasion to congratulate Nigerians in general and Imo people in particular for their individual and collective efforts and sacrifices in sustaining democracy since 1999. The fact that democracy has thrived uninterrupted for 23 years is an eloquent testament of the determination of Nigerians to sustain democracy. I congratulate all of us.

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“For me, each democracy day should be a day of deep meditation and reflection, both by the political elite and the people, on how far we have kept faith with the spirit that inspired the June 12th struggle. Are our actions or inactions helping to deepen the hard earned June 12th democracy or helping to erode it? As leaders and participants in the democratic process can we in our right conscience say that we are good Apostles of the June 12th struggle? These are but a few of the issues that ought to agitate our minds as we celebrate June 12th today because our answers to the questions will help us to further deepen our democratic gains.

“Let me also use this auspicious occasion to salute those whose tenacious struggles and invaluable sacrifices brought us to the glorious dawn of the democracy we are savouring today. I hail Chief M. K. O. Abiola, our martyr of the struggle. I salute our own Chief Ralph Obioha and Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu. I remember the thousands of Imo people who were forced out of their homes in many parts of Nigeria. Some died, others never recovered from the economic trauma. I salute all of them.

“With the benefit of this historical hindsight, it is not only imperative but germane for us to guard this democracy jealously. We should do all in our power to ensure that we don’t toil with this freedom of choice which is the foundation upon which our development is predicated. That freedom should never be tied to pecuniary gains lest the foundation of our democracy be threatened.

“Consequently, we should, all of us, take seriously our civic obligation to freely elect our leaders. This begins with citizens obtaining their permanent voters cards. By the end of this month, INEC will not be issuing these cards. So those who are yet to obtain theirs should use this window of opportunity of just 18 days to do the needful.

“June 12th has taught us the evergreen lesson that we have the power to freely elect our leaders. If we fail in discharging that sacred responsibility, we should blame ourselves for the consequences. Let us therefore be proactive by taking our destiny into our hands. The first step is to obtain our PVC today. The second is to make it a point of civic duty to vote in all the elections.

“As we celebrate this democracy day, let me reaffirm my commitment to serve Imo people with all the energy at my behest for the utmost good of the state and citizens. I am happy that this administration has been consistent in the implementation of our prosperity agenda encapsulated in the 3Rs of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery.

“In the coming days, our signature projects of dualization of Owerri – Okigwe and Owerri – Orlu Roads will be formally commissioned as a catalyst towards the economic development of our dear state. The more than 72 roads built and reconstructed across the state are also geared towards enhancing social and economic development of the people. Our intervention in the health, education, agriculture and other sectors is aimed at making life easier for our people.”

Governor Uzodinma used the opportunity to appeal to the youth to leverage on the empowerment programmes of the state and federal governments to improve their lives insisting that they should refrain from allowing themselves from being used by disgruntled politicians to destabilize the state.

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