Chairman of Forum 68 and immediate past chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria(ALGON ) in Oyo State, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye(MDII ) has said the history behind the June 12, 1993, presidential election is something the nation must continue to recognise.
In a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan on Saturday,to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day, Abass-Aleshinloye said: “One must note that the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 is a testimony and reaffirmation of the national spread and unity in diversity of the people’s mandate freely won by Late Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR. Nigerians trusted him and that is why they voted for him. It is a history we must continue to recognise.”
According to him,“as we mark June 12, the essence of ‘Farewell to Poverty’ which was the campaign mantra of Chief Abiola should not be lost on the government and the governed, because democracy should be about national development in order to make citizens economically empowered to defend democracy. Globally, poverty is a threat to democracy, coexistence and national stability.”
As a vanguard and advocate of grassroot democracy, the former ALGON chairman opined that “to create social wealth and economic empowerment for the people, the local government has a very important role to play as the closest tier of government to the people. And to play this role, local government should be fully democratised and administered by popularly elected people that are accountable to the people and it should enjoy autonomy as guaranteed by the constitution.”
“Developing the culture of democracy and rule of law at the grassroots enhances democratic practice and popular participation nationally which is sine qua non to free and fair elections.
“Democracy, unity in diversity, peace and progress, leadership with integrity are basic tenets of good governance and purposeful development. This is how best to remember and honour June 12 as a watershed in the political history of Nigeria.
“We have to work together in overcoming poverty, insecurity, religious fanatism, ethnic bigotry, lawlessness, political rascality and corruption which are major threats to our democracy and national cohesion. To the people in one position of authority or the other, one must serve with the fear of God and accountability to the people they serve.
“I wish to appeal to all citizens of Oyo State to put the interest of the peace and stability of our land above personal, religious and political sentiments. We have to build a society that promotes freedom, justice, tolerance and reconciliation.
“As we reflect on the June 12 Democracy Day, we all have to bear in mind that we have a role to play in not only sustaining the democratic culture, but also standing up for good governance and politics that seeks to serve rather than be served,” Abass-Aleshinloye said.