TRACKING >>In his statement commemorating June 12 as the nation’s new Democracy Day, Atiku said anyone who claims to be a democratic convert must deliver on the promises they made to the people.
Chief MKO Abiola was the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which was annulled by then-military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida. After Abiola refused to give up his mandate, he was imprisoned in 1994 and he died in custody under suspicious circumstances on July 7, 1998, four years after his arrest.
Last year, President Buhari announced that June 12 would replace May 29 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day as it’s a more symbolic day for the nation’s transition from military rule back to democracy.
Buhari also conferred a post-humous award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola and also apologised to his family, on behalf of the Federal Government, for his death in the struggle to hold on to his mandate.
However, in his Wednesday statement, Atiku said the idea behind the event of June 12, 1993 embodies something much bigger than merely declaring it as a Democracy Day, despite how commendable it is.
He said, “It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when the ordinary people of Nigeria still don’t have the freedom to find a better life from the suffocating grip of poverty, when Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when a disproportionate number of citizens are not sure of where their next meal will come from and when the sanctity of their lives is not guaranteed.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when freedom of the press, and of speech, fundamentals of democracy is being assailed.”
He further remarked that it’s unacceptable for Buhari’s administration to lay claims to being a true friend of the June 12 struggle despite failing for the past four years to deliver on its promise of change to Nigerians.
“To be a lover of June 12 is to believe in the common good of the people. June 12 is about the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy. It is about having the skills to create wealth and jobs for the teeming mass of unemployed. It is not about the inclination for shared pains; it is about shared prosperity,” he said.
The former vice president called on all true lovers of democracy to continue to have hope that the country will turn a corner.
Atiku was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election which he lost to Buhari in February.
He branded the election the worst in Nigeria’s democratic history and has filed a petition against the result in court.