By Prince Osuagwu
Former Minister of Works, Dr. Mike Onolememen yesterday congratulated Nigerians on the democracy Day celebration, but quickly added that much as a lot has been achieved, much more needed to be done to get to where others are at the moment.
He charged president Muhammadu Buhari to sign the electoral bill into law even as he advised Nigerians to use the opportunity of the celebration to reflect more on some of the things that used to bind the nation together, which are unfortunately dividing it now.
In a Democracy Day congratulatory message, the former Minister of State for Defence said that looking back before 1999, Nigerians have every reason to be thankful for the democratic journey, but enjoined every politician to reflect on the travails of Moshood Abiola whose truncated election victory gave rise to the celebration of June 12 as democracy day.
He said: “Today, June 12 marks democracy day in our dear country. I rejoice in joining millions of citizens in this celebration. When we look back to what Nigeria was before 1999, we must be thankful for the democratic journey so far, away from those eras of military rules and interventions.
Though it’s not yet Uhuru, the sacrosanctity of government by the will of the people cannot be discounted.
“I recall the memorable day on June 12th, 1993 when I filed out with millions other Nigerians in Lagos to cast my vote as a citizen with anticipation of hope away from the military rule; little did I know that very election would be truncated.”
“Although the ill feelings are there, I am happy we were able to move on to restart another democratic journey from 1999 which has since taken a foothold. Democracy is not an event; on the contrary, it is a process. The setback of 1993 we experienced was a lesson, a bitter one at that. Nevertheless, we resolved to move on to capture the beauty of democracy, when it finally berthed in 1999. We must come together today to safeguard this democracy no matter what the challenges are.”
“Let’s not buy into the market sales of those who think violence can be used to achieve their ideal sense of freedom. Rather, let’s be in union with those who negotiate through dialogue their preferences. Wanton wastefulness and destruction are not part of democratic norms and values; dialogue remains a more potent instrument for berthing a better society.
“The challenges should not be enough for us to drop the precious gifts that democracy itself can afford because it is the will of the people, the majority of them, and what we should be haggling for is good governance through democratic means, not alternatives.
“In retrospection, therefore, let’s remember Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola whose victory was truncated on June 12th, 1993. That presidential election was adjudged to be the fairest and freest in the annals of our history. Even in prison, MKO was resolute that his stolen mandate must be returned and to this, he eventually lost his life while in detention.
It is on this note that I urge President Muhammad’s Buhari to revisit the latest amendment to the Electoral Bill, and sign it into law, to guarantee free and fair elections in Nigeria at all times.
“It is now instructive for us to carry on the resiliency and steadfastness of Moshood Abiola in defending the ideals of democracy and democracy itself from those who wish to pull the standing poles down. I wish all Nigerians Happy Democracy Day,” he added.