Democracy Day: Tinubu vows to protect citizen’s rights despite hardship

By Austine Emmanuel, Kaduna

As part of his commitment to  democracy, Nigeria  President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has vowed to protect the right, freedom and liberty of every Nigerian despite the economic hardship in the country.

This is as the president lamented that political entrepreneurs among other actors are trying to exploit current challenges in the country to undermine its 25 years of uninterrupted democracy and must be resisted at all costs.

Tinubu, in his national broadcast on Wednesday morning in commemoration of the 2024 Democracy Day, stated that democracy affords people the freedom and liberty to think as they want, live where they want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits them.

He added that the power of an idea and that of the people proved more potent than all the guns and munitions, than all the guns, the munitions and the threats of the strongmen, stating that the nation exited the yoke of military rule in 1999 to become the most populous democracy on African soil, the beacon of democratic self-determination for the black race and one of the largest democracies in the world and on this struggle his government shall stand.

Honouring the memories of past Patriots like Chiefs Anthony Enahoro, Abraham Adesanya, Arthur Nwankwo, Frank Kokori, Bola Ige, Adekunle Ajasin, Ganiyu Dawodu, Ayo Fasanmi, Gani Fawehinmi, Olabiyi Durojaiye, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu and others who have transited to the higher realm, Tinubu noted that their labour in the quest for a society where freedom is guaranteed shall never be in vain.

Speaking further, he noted with concern the hardship posed on the nation as a result of his policies. Meanwhile, he explained that Nigeria’s economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades, having built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil.

He stressed that the reforms that his government initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth no matter the hardship even as he averred that the policies are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone can have access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.

On the National minimum wage for workers, the president disclosed that an executive bill will soon be sent to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of the law for the next five years or less.

He reiterated that his administration have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organised labour on a new national minimum wage, despite the disagreement, adding that his Commitment to democracy void of dictatorship gave Labour Union the freedom to express themselves through strike actions and they are trying everything possible to arrive toward a good-faith resolution.

“As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria.

“Even more than that, I pledge to do whatever is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life. Although the challenges are steep and multiple, I am grateful to lead Nigeria at this moment in her history and point in her democratic journey.

“I come before you also to declare that our most important work remains before us. This real test has never been whether we would rise to challenge the slings of misfortune and grievous pain of dictatorship. The real test is whether we shall lower our guards as the shadow of despotism and its evident physical danger fade.

“I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realisation of our economic democracy. I understand the economic difficulties we face as a nation.

“Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil.

 ”The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.

“As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you. In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organised labour on a new national minimum wage.

“We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict. No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy. I take on this vital task without fear or favour and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed.

“In the end, our national greatness will not be achieved by travelling the easy road. It can only be achieved by taking the right one.

“The words of the American President Franklin Roosevelt certainly ring true: “There are many ways of going forward. But only one way of standing still!

“We dare not slumber lest the good things await our immediate future pass us by. We dare not plant our feet in idle standstill in the middle of the intersection of hope and despair. We know the proper way forward and we shall take it!

“The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow now appear on the early horizon. An abundant future and our capacity to achieve that future lie within our reach. Democracy and the institutions it begets offer to take us to our profound destination.

“Let us board this progressive train together. Together, let us move Nigeria forward. Let’s continue to keep the fire of democracy burning. Let’s keep the torch lit for generations to come,” part of the statement read.

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