The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has told President Muhammadu Buhari that it was not enough to declare June 12 Democracy Day when ordinary Nigerians are finding it difficult to eke out a living.
Atiku, in a statement issued yesterday, noted that Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty.
His words: “It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when a disproportionate number of citizens are not sure of where their next meal will come from and when the sanctity of their lives is not guaranteed.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when the ordinary people of Nigeria still don’t have the freedom to find a better life from the suffocating grip of poverty.”
He described as unacceptable, that an administration which had an opportunity of four years to deliver the promise of change to Nigerians, not only reneged on that promise, but propelled the country into a near-comatose state, to lay claims to being a true friend of the June 12 struggle.
“To be a lover of June 12,” the former vice president stated, “is to believe in the common good of the people.
“June 12 is about the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy. It is about having the skills to create wealth and jobs for the teeming mass of unemployed.
“It is not about the inclination for shared pains; it is about shared prosperity.”
According to the former vice president, the choice of “HOPE” as campaign slogan of Chief MKO Abiola was not merely a populist tokenism, nor was it meant to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon.
Atiku noted that the decision by Nigerians to opt for democracy on June 12, 1993 was not “to aggrandize the political elite or to replace military dictatorship with civilian autocracy,” but rather, “the choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.
“Suffice it to state that the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day – much as celebratory and commendable it might seem.”
He stated that the minimum requirement for any June 12 convert, either in government or in private lives, was to deliver on the promises made to the people.
The former vice president also decried the abuse of human rights of Nigerians and violation of tenets of democracy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when freedom of the press and of speech, fundamentals of democracy is being assailed,” Atiku noted.
He stated that Nigerians voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.