The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Peoples Democratic Party caucus, and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, have congratulated Nigerians for marking 22 years of uninterrupted democracy.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement issued on Saturday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said since the return of democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria had witnessed progress and development in terms of physical infrastructure and freedom of choice and expression as part of the key pillars of democracy.
The Speaker, in the statement, titled, ‘Gbajabiamila celebrates Nigeria’s 22 years of uninterrupted Democracy…says dialogue among Nigerians remains key,’ expressed delight that citizens had been giving their democratic leaders support for the past two decades.
The Speaker, who said every democracy has its peculiarities, Nigeria inclusive, noted that despite the challenges faced, there was no question about the appropriateness of democracy in every society in today’s world. He also stated that dialogue remained key to resolving all democratic bottlenecks.
Gbajabiamila commended the All Progressives Congress-led government under the leadership of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for redefining democracy by bringing its dividends closer to the citizens through various people-oriented programmes and policies.
Also on Saturday, the Peoples Democratic Party caucus called on the Federal Government to respect June 12 as a symbol of democratic freedom and people’s power, outlining four points for moving Nigeria from the depths of total destruction under the Buhari-led regime.
The caucus made the call in a separate statement titled, ‘June 12: Symbol of supremacy of the people’s power and democratic freedom-PDP Reps Caucus…gives FG three-point demand to move Nigeria forward…reiterates position on Twitter…use carrot and stick approach, not brute force…respect and practice democratic tenets.’
Leader of the PDP caucus, Kingsley Chinda, who issued the statement, listed the demands.
The statement partly read, “The demands include: improve on our democratic practice by respecting the rule of law and press freedom, immediately reverse the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and set aside the draconian regulation of the media in our country.
“Place greater value on Nigerian lives and take decisive and pragmatic steps to end the avoidable carnages and deaths in our land by adopting mindset change programs.
“Restrain the police and other security forces from further unleashing violence on unarmed youths and other peaceful protesters who choose to go out and exercise their rights in commemoration of this Democracy Day and on any other day they so desire, having led peaceful protest in the past.”
According to the caucus, June 12 represented another opportunity for introspection on the democratic journey of our nation, the road taken and not taken, and the sacrifices of citizens that make the day historical.
The lawmakers said June 12 was also about renewing the commitments of all to the growth of democracy in Nigeria, and about ensuring that the country is never again enveloped by darkness, hemmed to the abyss by the sinister forces that threaten Nigerians’ collective rights and freedoms.
“Never in our history has freedom become so threatened and endangered than now. Down the length and breadth of our country, people are not only being arrested and detained; they are denied the right to life guaranteed by Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. Homes have become mourning parlous.
“While parents are burying their children in a land that once held out the promises of life, sadness becomes the reality of life; our nation has suddenly been turned into a wasteland of less hope and disillusionment. We have to walk the streets of our country to hear the tales of woes, lamentations, and dirges coming out of every home.
“A people that once regaled the world with their mirth, to the extent that the world recognised them as the happiest people on the face of the earth, have become shadows of themselves. Do we need to state the statistics of death, to establish the point we make here? Those who were killed are not mere statistics; they had blood and water flowing in them, and they were our brothers and sisters, members of our bloodlines, whose death diminishes our humanity. Even where we cannot here name those killed by bandits and kidnappers in the North-East, North-West and other geopolitical regions of our country, those murdered by security operatives in the South-East, South-West and other regions, we respect their memories that will eternally remain collective blessings to a country in dire need of epiphany and redemption,” the lawmakers said.
The caucus added, “Sadly too, the APC administration’s warped management of Nigeria’s economy has given the current administration the inglorious distinction of being the only administration in Nigeria’s history to lead the economy into two cycles of recession. Also unprecedented is the fact that about 75 per cent of Nigerian youth are either unemployed or under employed partly because Nigeria, under APC, has become a nightmare for foreign investors while inflation, as well as the value of the naira, are witnessing extremely sad historical levels, whilst the President lays the blame on the youths.”