Sanwo-Olu urges Nigerians to unite in sustaining democracy, honouring heroes’ legacy

…Urges Nigerians to embrace democratic values for national progress

By Sodiq Adelakun

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has called on Nigerians to come together to protect and preserve the country’s democratic government. In a Democracy Day message, Sanwo-Olu emphasised the importance of sustaining democracy, reflecting on the progress made since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

He urged citizens to join hands in building a better future, honouring the struggles of Nigeria’s founding fathers and democracy heroes.

The governor’s appeal comes as Nigeria marks 25 years of unbroken democratic governance, with June 12 commemorating a pivotal moment in the country’s democratic journey.

He said June 12 remained a symbol of Nigerians’ aspirations for unity, hope, better standard of living, and true democratic practices, which the country is working toward.

He said, “I wish all Nigerians and Lagosians in particular a Happy Democracy Day, even as this year’s June 12 also marks the 31st anniversary of the historic June 12, 1993 presidential election and 25 years of democratic governance.

“As we celebrate another Democracy Day, it is proper and necessary to pay glowing tribute to the memories of the symbol of that struggle, the late Chief MKO Abiola (GCFR).

“MKO Abiola and several other democrats, civil society activists and Nigerians that took part in the struggle for the restoration of democratic governance in Nigeria, on May 29, 1999, are the true heroes of this country.

“As we celebrate another Democracy Day, I want to implore all Nigerians, especially Lagos residents, to remain steadfast, guard our fledgling democracy jealously, remain united as one, great people with a common destiny, and, most importantly, continue to have faith in the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of the President Bola Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The President is committed to the Renewed Hope agenda, and he is doing everything within his power to ensure that Nigerians in all the nooks and crannies of the country enjoy the dividends of democracy in days to come.

“We in Lagos State are also committed to the THEMES+ development agenda, which focuses on key sectors to make life easy and affordable to all residents of the State. As a government elected by the majority, we will not take the responsibility of good governance lightly. We will continue to work hard to meet the yearnings of the people.

“Democracy Day must be a reminder of the importance of joining hands to build the future we want. As responsible citizens, let us do everything possible to support the government at the Federal, State and Local Government levels to sustain our democracy. Happy Democracy Day, Nigeria.”

Also, during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Epetedo Self Declaration and the 13th National Discourse, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State emphasised the importance of cherishing and living by the principles of democracy for the advancement of the nation.

Represented by Deputy Governor Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, Governor Sanwo-Olu stressed the significance of upholding democracy and urged Nigerians to embrace democratic ideals in all aspects of life.

He emphasised that democracy thrives on the conviction of ideas rather than coercion, highlighting the theme of the event as “Converting the Pain of the June 12 Election Annulment to the Gain of the Present Administration.”

The event, organised by the Coalition for a Better Nigeria, was held at MKO Abiola House, Ikeja, with a call for unity and commitment to democratic values for the prosperity and progress of Nigeria.

“As a nation, we must cherish our democracy and be democrats in all we do. Besides, democracy is not about force but the conviction of ideas. So, it is not that my views must always win. It means we must debate it, we must talk about it, and we must come together to agree about it,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu also stated that public commentators must speak with the fear of God, be patriotic, love the country, and adhere to the tenets of democracy, which he said were essential qualities for good governance.

“It is important for the citizens to be patriotic and protect the integrity of the country in order not to destroy the legacy of our forefathers, who paid the ultimate price in gaining democracy, particularly the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (MKO). It is important to respect our past heroes, especially those that are still living,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He, however, noted that Nigeria’s democracy had gained its roots and given room for freedom of speech, among other fundamental human rights, which had helped to create a conducive environment for economic growth, stability, and sustainable development.

The governor, while commenting on the implication of the June 12 event in Nigeria, stated that it had helped the citizenry to recognise that democracy should be cherished, adding that “those actors that stopped the process are not proud enough to explain what they did.”

This was just as he stressed the need to study history at school to enable the younger generations to appreciate heroes who fought for the country, both the living and the dead.

Earlier in his lecture titled “Impact of June 12 on the Democratic and Economic Development of Nigeria,” Comrade Debo Adeniran reiterated that the late Chief Abiola was a pillar of strength and hope for Nigerians and Africans, who paid the sacrifice for Nigeria’s freedom.

Adeniran described the late Abiola as a good man who served humanity, practised a welfare agenda, and was an indiscriminate philanthropist all over the world, saying that this was what made Nigerians give him their vote to become the president “as they believed he would change the economic situation of the country to prosperity.”

In her welcome address, the first daughter of the late Bashorun Moshood Abiola, Mrs Lola Abiola-Edewor, thanked the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari for recognising June 12 and making it a democratic day and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his constant support of the family.

She equally commended the Lagos State government for its commitment to the date.

Abiola-Edewor stressed the need for Nigerians to be patient with the present administration, saying that the president meant well for the citizens, which can be seen in his policies and mantra, “the renewed hope.”

She, therefore, urged Nigerians to continue to support and pray for the leadership of the country to succeed, as, according to her and going by the popular saying, “Rome was not built in a day.”

“I can assure us all that those promises will come to pass because Asiwaju is a grassroots man and cares for everyone, particularly the masses,” she said.

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