June 12 should be declared Democracy Day –Kalu

June 12 should be declared Democracy Day –Kalu

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ormer governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has urged the Federal Government to declare June 12 Democracy Day, in honour of the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola who won the 1993 presidential election.

He said this, yesterday, during the commemoration of the June 12 election anniversary which was organised by the Oodua Peoples Congress(OPC) in Lagos.

He said the date is a precursor to the democracy the nation is enjoying and should be set aside as a symbol of fairness and equity.

“The Democracy Day celebration should not be on May 29 but, on June 12. That date should be the symbol of fairness, equity and obedience to the rule of law because unfortunately, most of our security agencies have taken the law into their hands instead of allowing the law to take its course. No matter what you say about our Judiciary, I have been to many countries in Africa and I can confidently say ours is the best. We should not because of a few bad people say that the entire judiciary is bad.

“As a state governor, we went to court 15 times against the federal government and we won 13 times. Is it not the same judiciary that ruled in our favour? I call on the federal government to learn to obey the laws of the court, no matter how frivolous they are. These are the ideals Abiola died for. We have to protect our institutions; Nigeria is our country and we cannot run away from it. The country is in need of assimilation, healing and the right democratic ethos. People have a right to do anything that they want, but do not have the right to carry arms. In countries like The Gambia, you would not know the difference between a Muslim and a Christian, but, Nigeria is drifting because of quarrel and strife. I am a Catholic, but, I have always taken part in Ramadan.

“The governors have their club, so does the political elite and they are usually united in pushing forward their agenda, but, in the end, if the masses do not stick together by pushing their own agenda through the ballot box, they are the ones who will suffer.”

In his speech, OPC National Coordinator, Gani Adams, said he was saddened because those he described as beneficiaries of the June 12 election have forgotten Abiola and his mandate. He criticised what he described as the conspiracy of those he said were determined to forget the ideals the date represents.

“June 12 will always be remembered by those who have defied the culture of silence and conspiracy against a significant moment in Nigeria’s history, to remind us of how today, 24 years ago, the battle against the exit of the military from power was fought at the ballot by a determined Nigerian people. It is sad that, apart from the South West states, there has been indifference to the June 12 phenomenon by the federal government and the rest of Nigeria. That election was adjudged to be free, fair and peaceful, but the military government of that time, led by Ibrahim Babangida, played games with the transition to civilian rule, and so, it chose not to announce the final results of the election. That singular act was seen by many as a coup against the Nigerian people and an act of brazen injustice.

“It is sad today that those who benefitted most from Abiola’s martyrdom do not want to be reminded of him. Those who used to talk about injustice have since, given opportunity, inflicted their own injustice on the people. Those who used to swear by Abiola’s name have since found new political patrons. Those who proclaimed Abiola as the symbol of democracy and the rallying point for the people’s hopes have since been dancing on his grave.

“It is unfortunate that Nigeria forgets too soon, for when the Jonathan administration tried to address this injustice by naming a significant national institution after Abiola, the attempt resulted in controversy and a storm. Jonathan had renamed the University of Lagos after Abiola, but, the students and staff trooped to the streets, in protest. Politics and opportunism was read into the gesture and government had to eat the humble pie.”

Also, rights activist, Dr. Joe Odumakin, commended Kalu for being the first governor to declare June 12 public holiday whyen he was in office.

“It is very delightful to know that the spirit of June 12 is still alive. When Kalu was the governor of Abia state, he was the first person to declare a public holiday to commemorate June 12 and we commended him for that. I join by voice to other patriotic Nigerians who demand that June 12 be declared the Democracy Day for Nigeria because it symbolises the promotion of positive ideals and national integrity,” she said.

Niger Delta activist, Tony Uranta, condemned the threat by some northerners who said the Igbo should leave the North. He said such threats were capable of destroying the fragile peace the country enjoys.

He said: “I was also concerned when I heard the threat issued by northerners against Igbo to leave the North because it shows that it is the lack of knowledge that makes us do things that would hurt us. The fact that the Federal Government is dragging its feet in arresting those who issued the threat is an indication that some people are better than others and it does not speak well.”Commenting on the anniversary of the election, a former military administrator of Lagos State, Admiral Ndubisi Kanu (retd) said the country needs restructuring now more than ever.

He said: “It has become more imperative than ever that the country needs to be restructured to save it from collapse. It would not be in the interest of anyone if we do not restructure peacefully.” The guest lecturer, Dr. Chiedozie Okoro, corroborated Kanu’s stance, while insisting that any delay in restructuring will spell doom for the country. “For over a decade now, Nigeria has been bestridden by serious agitations for freedom. MEND, MASSOB, IPOB, OPC, Niger Delta Avengers, Boko Haram, etc all represent the interest of various ethnic and religious groups in the country agitating for the freedom of their people. “All of these points to one fact, with their protests, the people are openly saying the unitary system of government is burdensome and unfavourable and they are bitter about this. “Restructuring should be vehemently and persistently pursued. It should not be delayed because ethnic nationality consciousness is rife and is not about to subside,” he said.

Speaking, civil right activist, Dr. Joe Odumakin, commended Kalu, stating that he was the first governor to declare June 12 a public holiday.

“It is very delightful to know that the spirit of June 12 is still alive. When Kalu was the governor of Abia State, he was the first person to declare a public holiday to commemorate June 12 and we commended him for that. I join by voice to other patriotic Nigerians who demand that June 12 be declared the Democracy Day for Nigeria because it symbolises the promotion of positive ideals and national integrity,” she said.

Niger Delta activist, Tony Uranta, who was also present, condemned the threat by some northerners who said the Igbo should leave the North. He said such threats were capable of destroying the fragile peace the country enjoys.

He said: “I was also concerned when I heard the threat issued by northerners against Igbo to leave the North because it shows that it is the lack of knowledge that makes us do things that would hurt us. The fact that the Federal Government is dragging its feet in arresting those who issued the threat is an indication that some people are better than others and it does not speak well.”

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