First and foremost, I want to say a big congratulations to all Nigerians for twenty-two ( 22 ) years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our country from 1999 to date. This is worth being noted when we remember the dark military days and an urge to be more democratic. Democracy like President Abraham Lincoln said is “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. It is about how instituted Government has made better the lives of the people.
This was the hallmark of the June 12, 1993 election, championed by Chief M.K.O Abiola in his “Farewell to Poverty” manifesto. I still remember that period; it was a beacon of hope before that light was struck dead by General Ibrahim Babangida.
Hence as we celebrate ‘Democracy Day’ today, June 12, in honour of the sacrifices, and blood of our compatriots, who have made today possible, we must tell ourselves the hard truth. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Since democracy is about the people, are the people faring better in this Government today?
This is a question that keeps me up at night and has always motivated me to offer myself to serve humanity to do more for our people. We can’t shy away from facts. We can’t celebrate in blindness. We can’t rejoice in agony. We can’t let down the sacrifices of our founding fathers and compatriots.
We can’t rejoice in a half-baked democracy. Statistics from the World Data Lab suggests that as the World Poverty capital today with massive unemployment in Nigeria, we will still have extremely poor people by 2030.
This highlights our failure in education, human capital development, affordable quality health care, infrastructural development and agricultural plans.
This is also seen from the spillover effect of weak institutions, politicising the electoral body, censoring of free speech (seen in the Twitter ban), disunity among the people among other bad occurrences in our country.
This crystal clear failure of governance means democracy has a long way to go in Nigeria for meaningful and true celebration. Therefore on June 12 Democracy Day, I am calling for sincere leadership and people-oriented policies, statements, and programmes that will ensure adequate care for the welfare of the people. This is the hallmark of democracy.
Government at all levels of governance must be awake to their responsibilities, else they risk the people’s revolution.
To fellow citizens of this country and my dear people of Ekiti State, don’t be demoralized by the recent happenings of misgovernance and maladministration of the APC-led government.
At this time, we must not be forgetful of these undeserved sufferings, anguish, insecurity, poverty, high prices of foodstuffs, truncation of basic human decency and destruction of our fundamental human rights.
We must remember and as a people, we must convert such remembrance to chase out at the poll the government of multidimensional failures at all levels which reeks poverty of leadership. Only then can democracy be for us, the people, as seen in the quality of our lives.
However, as democratic people, let us be law-abiding and be our brother’s keepers. Together we shall prevail. Together, we will win. Together, we will build a peaceful and prosperous country for ourselves and our children and their children.
Happy Democracy Day…Keep Hope alive.
God bless you.
God bless Ekiti State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Rebuilding the broken walls and discovering new grounds”
Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka, former Deputy Governor, Ekiti State