June 13, 2024

June 12: Nigerians must be steadfast with democracy — Abiodun, Aiyedatiwa


•Credible poll best way to immortalise Abiola — Adeleke

•Ogun gov pardons 41 inmates

•Military rule not an option — Richard Akinnola

By Dayo Johnson, Shina Abubabar & James Ogunnaike

GOVERNOR Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and his Ondo State counterpart, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, yesterday, urged Nigerians to remain steadfast and trust the current democratic process in the country.

This came as Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State noted that conducting a free and fair election is one of the best ways to honour the memory of the late Moshood Abiola.

They spoke at different events to mark 2024 Democracy Day.

Speaking at the family home of the late MKO Abiola in Gbagura, Abeokuta, Governor Abiodun, who was represented by his Deputy, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele said: “June 12, 1993, stands as a watershed moment in this journey. On that particular day, Nigerians transcended differences of tribe, gender, and even the unique joint Muslim-Muslim ticket to speak unanimously through the ballot.

“They elected the late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, as President and Vice-President, respectively.

Although the election was globally acclaimed as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, the military annulled its results, dashing the hopes raised by this democratic exercise.

“That election remains a pivotal moment in our country’s democratic history. It has become the benchmark against which the successes of subsequent elections are measured. For all its import, it reminds us of the power of unity, resilience, and the collective determination to uphold the principles of democracy.

“It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Nigerian people, who have shown unwavering commitment to democracy and the belief in a better future.”

Ogun gov pardons 41 inmates

Meanwhile, Governor Abiodun has commuted the death sentence of 45 condemned prisoners to various prison terms.

He also granted pardons to 41 other inmates, serving in different Correctional Centres across the state.

Speaking at the 2024 Democracy Day, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Abiodun said: “The government must uphold democratic values by consistently applying principles of mercy, justice, and the rule of law. In this vein, the Nigerian Constitution empowers me to exercise a prerogative of mercy to anyone convicted of an offence in Ogun State.

“Having received the guidance of the Ogun State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, I have signed the appropriate warrants ordering the release of 41 convicts currently imprisoned across different correctional facilities in Ogun State. I have also signed warrants converting the death sentences of 45 inmates to prison sentences.”

Military rule, not an option —Richard Akinnola

Speaking in a lecture titled ‘June 12: Defining Moment in the Democratic Development of Nigeria,’ Mr Richard Akinnola, the guest lecturer, chided the country’s judiciary for being a tool in the hands of the military government to annul the June 12 elections.

He said: “In fact, June 12 stands as a defining moment and a watershed in our quest for democracy. That is why we should be cautious. Some people who did not experience what we went through are not subtly calling for the military. We must say no, never do we call for military again. Whatever the challenges we are having, let’s fight, let us argue, let us disagree, let us abuse each other, but never should we be tempted to invite the military.”

Democracy is well, alive in Nigeria—Aiyedatiwa

Also speaking during the democracy day celebration in Akure, Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State said that democracy is well and alive in Nigeria.

Aiyedatiwa said: “There’s no doubt, with the level of our political development in the last 25 years of stable Democracy in this 4th Republic, we can conveniently state that the sacrifices of the patriotic heroes and unyielding martyrs of the June 12 struggles who challenged the criminal injustice, defied the tyranny and brutality of power by the then military dictatorship in defence of the invaluable ideals of democracy, have not been in vain as democracy has become the defining essence of our political engagements and culture.

“The attendant priceless values and undeniable pillars of freedom, inalienable rights, socioeconomic justice, fairness and equity and respect for the Rule of Law that are globally guaranteed by democratic best practices are gradually taking roots and properly-being entrenched in our political consciousness and national space, with fresh breath of visible socioeconomic development. Today, we can say without equivocation that democracy is well and alive in Nigeria.”

Credible polls, best way to immortalise Abiola — Adeleke

On his part, Governor Ademola Adeleke, yesterday, disclosed that conducting free and fair polls remains one of the best ways to honour MKO Abiola.

Adeleke, in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed to commemorate the 2024 June 12 in Osogbo, described the free and fair election as the lifeline of any virile democracy.

He said: “We cannot at one hand celebrate democracy day and on the other hand undermine the democratic machine. You cannot be applauding the great memories of the late Bashorun Abiola and at the same time be working against free and fair elections.

“I call on leaders locally and nationally to re-dedicate ourselves to democratic ideals. The will of the people freely expressed must be accepted by genuine democrats. Our electoral system must be strengthened to deliver credible elections. Under no circumstances should the will of the people be subverted.

“Free and fair elections are the lifeline of any virile democracy. Politicians must grow to know and accept that power flows from the people. Rigging elections is an act of war against democracy. Genuine democrats accept electoral verdicts as a mark of respect for the voters, the ultimate holders of sovereignty. That’s what I did in 2018 when I was denied victory.

“If there is any lesson June 12 every year is to teach us, it is that democracy thrives when electoral candidates bow to people’s will. We must stop being autocratic in democratic garb.”