By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOSâ€”FORMER Military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and ex- Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said that without the lessons from June 12, credible elections might elude the country in 2011.
They, however, harped on the need for the Federal Government to adopt the Uwais Panel Report on Electoral Reforms noting that it remained the only panacea for free and fair elections in the country.
Buhari and Tinubu spoke at an event commemorating the 17th anniversary of theÂ June 12 Presidential Election with the theme: â€œTowards Credible 2011Elections and the Lessons of June 12â€ which at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, in Lagos.
Dignitaries at the event included former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba; All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh;Â Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Action Congress 2007 governorship candidate in Osun State, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola;Â Dr. Joe Odumakin; Otunba Gani Adams, and Comrade Shehu Sani.
Buhari said that June 12 remained a landmark event which saw to the enthronement of the current political dispensation, noting that without June 12, there wouldnâ€™t have been democracy in the country.
The former head of state, however, called on the present crop of leaders to take a cue from the June 12 elections just as he stated the need for Nigerians to ensure that their votes counted in future polls.
Civil and true democracy
Tinubu, in his speech entitled: â€œBetween June 12, 1993 and May 29, 2011: The Obligation of Electoral Reformsâ€ noted that the ideals of June 12 struggles, had not been realised just as he said that Nigeria was practising civil and not true democracy.
He noted: â€œHowever, the most critical task in this era, the most urgent and most fundamental task that we must address today, to be able to create a country that so many people have lived and died for, is to ensure that every subsequent election in Nigeria is worth that very name.
â€œThis is the struggle that has consumed most of my energy in the last one year and half. I have joined with other democratic forces and patriots to mobilize our people to ensure electoral reforms as the basis of re-creating, re-building and sustaining our democratic heritage.
Without electoral reforms, which will lead to free and fair elections, what we have now and what we will continue to have, as I stated during the June 12 anniversary last year, is mere â€œcivil ruleâ€ and not true democracy.â€
While lamenting the failure by Nigerians to learn from the June 12 struggles, Tinubu said: â€œ17 years after the June 12, 1993 election we seem to have lost one of the most critical lessons of that experience.
That is the importance of free and fair elections. As the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, June 12, 1993 election, remains a model. It produced the most popular mandate and the most legitimate political and social authorization of power since the amalgamation in 1914.
â€œBesides, the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, the annulment of which almost brought down the whole â€˜houseâ€™ that we call Nigeria, that election date, that particular day in the history of Nigeria, has been appropriately described by commentators as â€˜a date forever.â€™ Indeed, June 12, 1993 was such a date.â€
The former governor, who harped on the need for electoral reforms, which he said would help in ensuring credible elections in 2011, said the implementation of the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reforms Committee would assist in the challenges of free and fair elections in the country.
He further urged the electorate to ensure that their votes counted in the 2011 elections adding: â€œElectoral reform is a basic issue of democracy, freedom, justice and equity.â€