Former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007) and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has pointed out that while the country observes civil rule, democracy without a corresponding commitment to free and fair elections exposes the citizens to the harm of dictatorship.
He said so in his message to Nigerians on the occasion of the 2023 Democracy Day marked every June 12 in honour of politician, Moshood Abiola, who died in military detention while awaiting to claim his victory in the June 12 presidential election of 1993.
Atiku stated that the Day provides an opportunity to reflect as a people and a country on the journey to becoming a democratic society.
“For Nigerians who were around during the dark days of military dictatorships, it is important that we appreciate the successes that we have achieved in making democracy the norm of politics in Nigeria.
“But democracy without a corresponding commitment to the principles of fairness and fidelity to the rule of play by stakeholders in the processes of conducting elections still leaves the people prostrate to tendencies of dictatorship.
“For our democracy to be fully fledged, it must constantly evolve away from the current practice where the governing elite determines the outcome of elections”, said Atiku who is contesting his loss to President Bola Tinubu in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
He continued: “Many times, when I take stock of the activism that birthed the current democratic dispensation, I am even more convinced that a lot of work still lies ahead.
“Democracy and the process of democratization is a constant work in progress. While what we celebrate today is a return to civil rule in Nigeria, the desire to make our democracy self-sustaining and independent of anti-democratic elements is the new frontier of participation by all democrats.
“As it requires collective energy and commitment to attain civil rule, it will require a concomitant commitment to advance the cause of democracy and our democratization process.
“The challenge ahead of us and the future of our democracy will rely heavily on what we do or fail to do today.
“To achieve this noble goal, our commitment to the cause of democracy must be eternal.
“Folks on the other side, enemies of democracy, whom we are up against, are not resting. To defeat them, we must do more!
“As I congratulate Nigerians on this day, in celebration of return to civil rule, I also call our consciousness to the reality that democracy in Nigeria remains in bondage and it will need the energy of all of us to rescue it.”