We’ve steadied the course of democracy, says Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu says Nigeria has steadied the course of democracy since exiting the yoke of military rule in 1999 to become the most populous democracy on African soil. He also said Nigeria had become the beacon of democratic self-determination for the black race and one of the largest democracies in the world. Tinubu made the remarks in his national broadcast on the 25th anniversary of unbroken democracy in Nigeria on June 12, Democracy Day. 'This change stands as a pivotal moment in human history. From this change, we shall never turn, nor shall the annals of mankind's progress forget the sublime meaning of this great moment. 'Today, 25 years later, we celebrate the silver anniversary of our journey in democracy. 'Democracy is neither a foreign nor abstract concept devoid of real-life meaning for us. Neither can we afford to reduce or minimalise it to being nothing but the mere holding of periodic elections where one candidate and party outdo another,' he said. According to the President, whil e elections attract dramatic attention, they are but one aspect of democracy. 'Democracy is a way of life that encompasses a broad outlook of which elections are but a part. As such, a nation can have elections without being democratic. But a nation cannot be truly democratic without holding elections. 'That we have established a tradition of holding transparent, open, and fair elections gives credence to our democratic bearing. That we have experienced peaceful transitions of government affirms our democratic temperament,' he said. According to him, true democracy shines its light into the daily lives of the people who live under its nurturing wings. 'It affords us the freedom and liberty to think as we want, live where we want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits us. 'Democracy does not assume some false or forced unity of opinion. In fact, democracy assumes that conflicting ideas and differing opinions shall be the order of the day. 'Given the diversity and variety of the human experi ence, there must be diverse perspectives and viewpoints. See also Boys particularly vulnerable, insecure during violent conflicts - NGO 'What democracy demands is that we do not resolve differences through force and repression. But we make allowance for the legitimacy of views that differ from our own,' the President appealed to Nigerians. He said no matter how complicated democracy may be, it is the best form of governance in the long run. 'We must also be aware that there are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given. 'These people do this not to make things better but to subject all other people and things to their control and dominance until the point that, if you are not counted among their elite, then your life will be small and no longer owned by you,' he said. Tinubu honoured those who laid down their lives and sacrificed everything to pave the way for the nation. 'We lost great heroes and he roines along the way. In this struggle, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, the most significant symbol of our democratic struggle, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua and Pa Alfred Rewane, among others sacrificed their very lives. 'They bravely surrendered their futures, so that our nation might have a better one. 'Let us honour the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Adm. Ndubuisi Kanu,' he said. Others he said are Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have transited to the higher realm. Tinubu added that the sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. 'For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile. See also Author challenges gender disparities with new book titled 'Ichabod' 'While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military brass hats. 'Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun. 'The sacrifices they made, and the precious gift brought about by their selfless devotion can never be repaid. Neither shall it be forgotten,' said Tinubu. He said the nation could not have won the battle against military dictatorship without the irrepressible Nigerian journalists who mounted the barricades along with the pro-democracy activists. 'We celebrate them today, along with their media establishments such as The Punch, Guardian, National Concord, Tribune, The News/Tempo, and TELL Magazines. Military aut horities proscribed these media establishments and jailed their journalists for standing for free speech and civil liberties,' he said. 'I stand uniquely placed in this regard. I was among those who took the risk to midwife the birth of our democracy. I am now a direct and obvious beneficiary of the fruits of those historic efforts. 'As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria. 'Even more than that, I pledge to do whatever is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life,' he said. He said although the challenges were steep and multiple, he was grateful to lead Nigeria at this moment in her history and point in her democratic journey. 'I come before you also to declare that our most important work remains before us. This real test has never been whether we would rise to challenge the slings of misfortune and grievous pain of dictators hip. 'The real test is whether we shall lower our guards as the shadow of despotism and its evident physical danger fade. See also Nigeria-Saudi Agreement: Strengthening Nigeria's economic horizon 'I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realisation of our economic democracy,' he said. The President acknowledged the economic difficulties Nigerians face at this point in time. He said the economy had been in desperate need of reform for decades and had been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil. He said the reforms initiated by his government were intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. 'There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportun ity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour. 'As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you. 'In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organised labour on a new national minimum wage. 'We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less,' he said. The President said he was committed building a Nigeria where no man is oppressed. 'In the end, our national greatness will not be achieved by travelling the easy road. It can only be achieved by taking the right one. 'The words of the American President Franklin Roosevelt certainly ring true: 'There are many ways of going forward. But only one way of standing still!' 'We dare not slumber lest the good things awaiting our immediate future pass us by. We dare not plant our feet in idle standstill in the middle of the intersection of hope and despair,' he charged Nigerians. Source: News Agency of Nigeria