June 12: Peter Obi’s Democracy Day Message To Nigerians

by J.J Olawuyi

“In our beloved nation, June 12 is observed as Democracy Day. It is appropriate to commemorate this historic day. We, the people of Nigeria, declared our unequivocal preference for genuine democracy on that day in 1993. Despite being under military control, we freely choose an open voting process. Our ballots revealed what we as a people really wanted. That day, our decision overcame distinctions based on race, religion, and geography. These characteristics combined to make June 12 unique in our quest for true democracy.

“Governments and peoples all over the world praised our collective selection of late Chief M. K. O. Abiola as a deserving leader for the country. So, June 12 serves as the foundation for our long, collaborative road to becoming a nation with a true democracy.

“However, the situation of our politics at the moment paints a different picture. The future of our country is still unsure and vulnerable, which is very troubling for our democracy. We still have too many fundamental issues that need to be resolved as a country.

One of these is the search for a reliable election system that would win the support of ALL Nigerians, just as June 12 did, and command their trust, confidence, and belief. Therefore, we should take this opportunity to reflect on the genuine ideals of a truly democratic country as we remember June 12. That accomplishment was made on June 12, 1993. We must thus implement an electoral system that commands the confidence of the populace in the spirit of June 12. This is done in observance of democracy’s fundamental principles and ideals, which are based on respect for the will of the people as expressed through voting. Above all, the government must uphold the social compact with the populace by providing for their needs, abiding by their wishes, and carrying out the obligations of responsible governance as outlined in the constitution in order to preserve and safeguard the institutions of the democratic state. Respect for the law is one of government’s most important duties in this regard.

“Unfortunately, we now live in a time when widespread impunity, widespread violence, and bloodshed threaten to undermine these fundamental tenets of democracy. Nigerians’ lack of trust in their leaders is still growing.

“The trust and efficiency gaps in our most recent elections brazenly illustrate this disease. The goal of June 12 and a special Democracy Day is to motivate us to fix the mistakes made in our most recent elections.

“This is the surest approach to regain the public’s faith in the promise of a genuine democracy and the future of our country. I do, however, implore everyone to maintain hope in the democratic system’s inherent ability to self-correct.

“As for me, I still firmly believe that a New Nigeria is possible. Our desire for a country that is equitable, just, secure, and peaceful is far from utopian. Our country has abundant natural and human resources.

“What we lack are selfless leaders that are dedicated to the national interest, sustainable development, and inventive thinking that allows every Nigerian the freedom of choice of domicile, protection lives, property, and orderly liberties, regardless of race, religion, or social strata. These goals are realistic and attainable, and I today reaffirm to Nigerians that we will continue to work to establish a government that would give them the priority they deserve.

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