Thursday, 30th November 2023

Tinubu inspects guard of honour as Kingibe calls for optimism

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Seye Olumide (Ibadan) and Gloria Nwafor (Lagos)
13 June 2023   |   6:24 am
As part of activities commemorating 2023 Democracy Day celebration, President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, inspected a guard of honour at the forecourt within the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Bola Tinubu inspecting a military parade during Democracy Day celebrations at the State House, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Nigeria’s democracy below expectation, NLC laments
• Gani Adams tasks President on Abiola’s manifesto, wants new Constitution
• Citizens tired of repeated calls for patience, says Kachikwu

As part of activities commemorating 2023 Democracy Day celebration, President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, inspected a guard of honour at the forecourt within the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Present were: Vice President Kashim Shettima; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume; Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and others.

Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, led service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and other senior security chiefs and government officials to witness ceremonies marking significance of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, at the State House.

Babagana Kingibe, running mate in the annulled June 12 election, urged Nigerians to see the acclaimed winner, Moshood Abiola, as pointer to the direction the nation should take towards strengthening democracy.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the ceremonies, Kingibe noted that June 12 would always bring back vivid memories of the entire process and the sadness that ensued, following annulment of the election.

On his thoughts, whether the country has done enough to recognise what Abiola stands for, the former SGF urged Nigerians to be inspired by his courage.

He added: “Abiola is no more. We can’t bring him back. And whatever we do will never bring him back to life. But we should never forget. We should be inspired by his courage. We should be inspired by his steadfast commitment. We should be inspired by his willingness to sacrifice his life, which he has, and for which I think the country will forever be grateful.”

Meanwhile, Nigerians have been expressing their views on the anniversary, with Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) saying practice of democracy in the country falls below the expectations of many.

A statement signed by Acting President, Adewale Adeyanju, yesterday, commended Nigerian workers, who played a leading role in pro-democracy struggle, through various phases of military dictatorship.

NLC added: “For us, our Democracy Day represents a statement of intent, irrevocable decision and irretraceable step in our match to freedom from military rule and dictatorship. Today, we, once again, celebrate the heroes and heroines, as well as martyrs of that struggle, especially Chief M.K.O. Abiola, who gave his all.”

On his part, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams, urged Tinubu to fulfil dreams of a prosperous Nigeria, as expounded in Abiola’s manifesto.

Adams added: “We cannot achieve much if our democracy is tied to the 1999 Constitution; the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions are tools the military imposed on us to preserve their atrocities. These have always remained the bane of Nigeria.”

The President, Women Arise Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, urged Tinubu to de-annul the June 12 presidential poll and declare Abiola winner.

The President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu, lamented: “At every change of baton and transition, since 1999, performances of the three arms of government, states and federal, have pushed our people further down into terrible conditions.

“These conditions are numerous, while the nation’s commonwealth only serves as conduit into private vaults of the political class and their co-conspirators, namely public officers and security personnel.”

Also, former presidential flag bearer of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, called on Tinubu to go beyond campaign rhetoric and put in place plans for rebuilding the nation.

Reacting to Tinubu’s Democracy Day broadcast, Kachikwu cautioned that having endured so much under the previous government, further calls for patience would not be taken seriously.

He said: “For too long, Nigerians have endured. We have kept faith, when promises made by successive governments didn’t materialise. We have been asked to be patient until we no longer know what it means to be patient.

“Today, our President has, once again, asked us to be patient as cost of living rises astronomically, occasioned by removal of petroleum subsidy. On a day when we should celebrate the essence of democracy, we don’t have much to celebrate.”

He added: “We all yearn for the hope promised us by Abiola, three decades ago. His message resonated with most Nigerians and as such, Nigerians from all walks of life trooped out to vote for him in an election adjudged free and fair. Desperate men didn’t allow him to take the oath of office but in our hearts and minds, he remains the President we know.”