On this day, twenty nine years ago, June 12, 1993, the Nigerian people, in an unprecedented unison, spoke with one strong voice through their votes about their resolve and commitment to building a country where the diverse component nationalities of the country would co-habit together peacefully and harmoniously, with every citizen across the north and south feeling belonged, secure, fulfilled and proud to be a Nigerian in a beautiful resource-rich rainbow nation that fulfills its manifest destiny as the pride of Africa and the black race which God purposed our great country to be.
On that historic day, the Nigerian people trooped out in their millions across the north and south, and massively voted their choice, the Social Democratic Party Candidate – the extraordinarily remarkable Nigerian patriot and business mogul, Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola, the Are Onakakanfo of Yoruba.
To the millions of the electorate who gave him their votes, he was the man who ticked the essential boxes of: national unity, cohesion and integration; experience and capacity to engender socio-economic transform of the nation and lift the Nigerian masses out of poverty; interfaith peace-building, and transformational leadership that could guarantee good governance, growth and sustainable development.
The nationally and internationally celebrated Chartered Accountant, businessman and technocrat convincingly won the presidential election with clear margin. He even achieved an uncommon feat of defeating his opponent, the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC), the late Alhaji Bashir Tofa in his own home state of Kano, thereby setting the entire national landscape in high celebration mood as drums began to beat everywhere that the much-desired redemption of the masses from the suffocating grips of poverty and lack had come. But sadly, the joy was abruptly cut short as an inexplicable web of evil confederacy against the mandate freely given by Nigerians abruptly brought the joy to a sad end, thereby, plunging the country into nationwide intense crises, and bringing upon the nation, a cloud of confusion, tension and social disorders which strongly threatened the stability of the Nigerian Union.
That ill-advised annulment of the popular presidential election, which was adjudged as freest and fairest in the annals of the nation’s political history, did so much unquantifiable damages to the nation, particularly in terms of loss of lives and property of citizens; in displacements of families, loss of international respect in the comity of nations, and the general disruption of the peace and social order of the country.
Yes, June 12 has been formally recognized by the federal government as the true democracy day, and the date been made a national holiday, but much still remain to be done, because, evidently, three decades after, the country is still far from being democratic and socio-politically stable.
We are still very much confronted with the task of nation-building and democratic consolidation, while the socio-economic challenges, the ills and dysfunctionalities of our systems and public institutions bedeviling our nation and impeding its development which MKO Abiola sought to remediate are hitting the nation harder, and are even manifesting in greater dimensions.
On this momentous occasion of the Democracy Day, the Social Democratic, Party SDP, pays due regards and tribute to the chief symbol of the struggle, the late Chief MKO Abiola, who, particularly, paid the supreme price for the enthronement of the democracy that we all enjoy today.
The party reckons that beyond the symbolism of the June 12 Day, the most fitting honour that the nation could do to the man who gave his all to the struggle for a better Nigeria, is for all of us to resolve to work to entrench in our national life, the culture of true democracy; to ensure that social justice and good governance thrive at all levels; for the State to secure the lives and property of citizens, and for all citizens to feel proud to be Nigerians wherever to they choose to call home in any part of the country.
The political class and our governments at all levels, owe it to the people to work to conscientiously to build a good and egalitarian Nigerian society where no one is alienated; where no citizen is displaced from his or her homeland; where no child of school age is out of school; where no Nigerian compatriot goes to bed hungry; where the diverse peoples co-exist in harmony, and where the resources and commonwealth of the nation are used for the good of all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, gender, class, religion or class.
The SDP, also on this special day, pays special tribute to all Nigerians, dead or living, who yielded themselves to the noble cause of struggle for democracy, and for fighting for the protection of the June 12 mandate in various commendable ways.
The SDP, which was the vehicle through which the June 12 victory was delivered twenty nine years ago, is today, strongly resolved to re-enacting the 1993 epochal electoral victory, and the party is strongly committed to restoring the hope that was dashed, and is well-primed to drive the rebuilding process of the nation.
That preparedness was demonstrated some days ago, when the party put up a class act by organizing a spectacular National Convention and Presidential Primaries which culminated in the emergence of a new symbol of hope for national redemption, the celebrated international lawyer and business man, Prince Adewole Adebayo was elected as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 general election.
Prince Adebayo, a proud emblem of his generation, is a clearly a breadth of fresh air, a dynamic, resourceful, knowledgeable, capable, committed and patriotic nation-builder, human capacity developer, renowned enabler of positive change, a remarkable philanthropist and a popular mentor to many young Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country.
He has evidently done so much for himself and for the future of the country. As an impressive and endearing bridge between the old and new generation, Prince Adewole Adebayo comes prepared for the job that lies ahead, and with very impressive credentials. He will certainly make the much-desired difference in changing the negative narratives and restore the loss glory of the country.
It is undeniable that from its exalted height as a nation with immense potential for greatness, the country has slided so sadly, going by all growth and development indicators. In the intervening years between that historic date of June 12,1993 and today, the nation has sunk into the lowest ebb of reckoning the comity of nations in Africa and the global stage in general. We must, therefore, pull the nation back from the edge of precipice that it presents hangs.
Also, we need to get to work assiduously to bring about redemptive positive actions towards giving the nation a new lease of life. That is the imperative of the times, and the task before all Nigerians as we go into the next general election, during which Nigerian electorate would be having the opportunity of remedying the on-going damages that are being done to the nation, by voting out the present gross incompetence and national misfortune.
The SDP as the credible alternative national party, therefore, encourages all Nigerians to keep the faith; to keep hope alive, and to do the needful with their votes when the time comes. Nigeria needs redemption, and SDP is the bearer of that refreshing hope for a united, strong and poverty-free Nigeria.
Happy Democracy Day.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Ambassador Rufus B. Aiyenigba,
National Publicity Secretary,
Social Democratic Party, SDP.