There is no doubting the fact that June 12 is a watershed in Nigeria’s political history. June 12, 1993, was the day Late Chief MKO Abiola contested Nigeria’s presidential election under the banner of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, against his only opponent Bashir Othman Tofa of the National Republican Convention, NRC. Till today, MKO Abiola remains the acclaimed winner of the election that was annulled by the then Nigeria’s military President, General Ibrahim Babangida.
In consideration of the obvious fact that MKO Abiola was unjustly denied the opportunity offered him by well meaning Nigerian voters to assume the leadership of the country by the military junta, President Muhammadu Buhari took the ‘bull by the horns’ and awarded a posthumous award on Chief Abiola and his running mate Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. Just last week the President signed a bill into law that legally tagged June 12 of every year as Nigeria’s Democracy Day and a national holiday. What a better way of immortalising the winner of the annulled elections. Only a real courageous and bold democrat can go out of his way to rekindle the hopes and aspirations of Nigerian voters for an unjust denial of a significant event that happened 26 years ago. According to PMB, he is all out to correct injustice, which is a pre-requisite for peace and unity in the country.
Without mincing words, June 12 is PMB’s enduring legacy. According to the SDP National Chairman, Professor Tunde Adeniran, June 12, in the annals of the nation’s political history and democratic evolution, has come to symbolise the most epochal national event of contemporary Nigeria.
President Buhari, in an extensive address, which was presented eloquently at the maiden Nigeria’s Democracy Day in Abuja on June 12, 2019, renamed the Abuja National Stadium as MKO Abiola National Stadium. He went on to acknowledge the fact that the country was witnessing the fifth peaceful of transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another under his watch.
Nigerians are witnesses to the impartial conduct of President Buhari to all parts of the country and all state institutions without the usual interference Nigerians have witnessed in previous administrations. It was therefore not out of place for the president to publicly declare that throughout his four years in office, he had not found it fit to interfere in the affairs of the country’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in its activities before, during or after the elections. He also offered INEC all the needed resources for an impartial and independent management of the country’s elections. As a true leader and democrat, PMB while confirming that the 2019 elections witnessed pockets of unrest, noted that it was however generally free, fair and peaceful.
It is quite heartwarming and encouraging for Nigerians to hear President Buhari using the opportunity to appreciate all Nigerians who have been consistently voting for him since 2003 and assuring them that he will not let them down.
Undaunted by his desire to serve the people, the president admitted the daring challenges since 2015 and assured all and sundry that his government has been mapping out policies, measures and laws to maintain our unity and at the same time ‘’lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and onto the road to prosperity”.
Since coming to power, President Buhari has been consistent with the ideals of democracy in deeds and words. Key among such is the religious implementation of his three-point agenda of security, improving the economy and fighting the monster of corruption. He has embarked on a massive infrastructural development of the country across all the geopolitical zones of the country. Critical infrastructures from rail, over 2, 000 kilometres of ongoing roads, to power and other social services like education, health, water, among others. The Anchor Borrowers Programme pioneered by PMB is a classical example of a leadership with the heart to empower Nigerians through agriculture. Another strategic action is the construction of the second Niger Bridge. Democracy is not about rhetorics. It’s about providing the dividends of democracy at the doorsteps of the electorate. To say the least, President Buhari has in the last four years been doing just that across all the spheres of human development.
Most importantly, PMB expressed optimism about Nigeria’s ability to become a force to be reckoned with globally. According to him, “despite the challenges over the last four years, my optimism about Nigeria’s future is unshaken and Nigeria’s role in the world as an emerging economic force is without doubt’’. For President Buhari, his administration intends to expand facilities currently available for small scale enterprises in towns and cities to further encourage and support domestic production of basic goods thereby reducing reliance on imported goods.
In his usual expression of optimism, President Buhari explained that he is not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead. instead, he added, he is revived by the new mandate of four more years to work collaboratively with states and local governments, diplomatic corps and all Nigerians and reposition our country as the heart beat and reference point for our continent.
Similarly, PMB has pledged to use his current mandate of leading the country to remain committed to improving the lives of Nigerians by consolidating efforts to address key issues of emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities, dealing decisively with new flashes of insecurity in the country, impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.
Undoubtedly, Nigerians have by gracing June 12 as Democracy Day, honoured President Buhari as the country’s modern day father of democracy for substituting injustice with justice.
Ilallah writes from Emeka Anyaoku Street, Abuja via [email protected]