The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, says May 29 does not carry the weight of significance that June 12 carries in the country’s democratic sojourn.
Mr Tinubu said this in a statement entitled ‘June 12: The Truth that Sets Democracy Free in Our Land’, released by his Media Adviser, Tunde Rahman, on Tuesday in Lagos.
He said what was being commemorated on May 29 of every year since 1999 had been the handover of power from the military regime to the elected civilian administration.
According to him, June 12 coincides with the day that the seed of today’s democratic sprouting was sown 26 years ago.
“May 29 is at best an arbitrary date on which the military chose to hand over the reins of power to an elected civilian government in 1999.
“Observing May 29 as democracy day delinks the country’s democratic experience since 1999 from the protracted and bitter struggle against military dictatorship from June 12, 1993, till the forced exit of the military in 1999.
“On June 12, we commemorate the country’s emergent democracy in a way that is certainly more spiritually fulfilling and psychologically satisfying than has ever been the case since 1999.
“Without those who stoutly stood on June 12 and sacrificed life, limb, freedom, economic ruin, psychological devastation and more in the battle against tyranny, there would most certainly not have been any May 29, 1999 handover to commemorate,” he said.
Mr Tinubu thanked the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for the actualisation of June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day.
He urged Nigerians not to take the democracy presently enjoyed in the country for granted or do anything to threaten its existence as it was not won on a peaceful and comfortable platter of gold.
The former Lagos State governor said June 12 should serve as a continual reminder to Nigerians on the imperative of pursuing the cause of justice in all spheres of life as a necessary condition for peace, prosperity and progress.
“As we kick off the annual celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, let us renew our commitment to utilising democracy as a vehicle for eliminating poverty in our land.
“It should be used as a vehicle for providing prosperity and life more abundant for the teeming millions of our people.
“It was indeed his deep aversion to poverty and the avoidable suffering of majority of our people that compelled Chief MKO Abiola to contest Nigeria’s presidency, and thus, his campaign slogan was ‘Farewell to Poverty’.
“The problem of poverty remains primal and fundamental in our land today,” he said.
The APC leader urged political office holders to support President Buhari’s intervention programmes aimed at uplifting the majority of Nigerians out of dehumanising poverty, political instability and insecurity.
“We must make concerted efforts to banish poverty from Nigeria. To rid Nigeria of poverty is indeed a task that must be done.
“As the historic restoration of June 12 to its proper place by the Buhari administration sets democracy free to soar in our land, let us rededicate ourselves to the challenge of utilising democracy to set Nigeria free from poverty.
“God bless our fatherland,” Mr Tinubu said.