•  Says it’s time to build a nation where every voice is heard, citizens are empowered
  • Nigeria has not done badly in democratic rule – Kingibe

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

 

President Bola Tinubu has called on Nigerian leaders to recommit to the values of inclusivity, accountability, and transparency in order to ensure a thriving democracy that endures for generations to come.

According to him, after 25 years of uninterrupted democracy, it is time for all Nigerians to partake “in building a nation where every voice is heard, where every potential is realised, and where every citizen is empowered to contribute to the collective good”.

Represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, at the 2024 Democracy Day Lecture at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Tinubu emphasised the importance of empowering every citizen to contribute to the collective good.

He stated: “Our progress has been marked by both triumphs and trials, each serving as a reminder of the preciousness of our democratic principles. As we move forward, let us recommit to the values of inclusivity, accountability, and transparency, ensuring that our democracy not only endures but flourishes for generations to come.

“The future of Nigeria lies in our hands, in our ability to dream, innovate, and act with courage and conviction. Let us embrace this moment with a renewed sense of purpose, knowing that the path we tread today will shape the Nigeria of tomorrow. This is an invitation for each of us to participate in building a nation where every voice is heard, where every potential is realised, and where every citizen is empowered to contribute to the collective good.”

President Tinubu observed that for the nation to have sustained democracy for 25 years, the longest in the country’s checkered history, is evidence of “the enduring sacrifices of several generations of patriots.”

Passing his verdict on the democratic journey so far, the President declared that 25 years was time enough to ascertain the effectiveness of any experiment, just as he said, “Our democratic experience, despite the lows and the highs, is a telling referendum on our aspiration to build a nation that serves the interests of all, a federation that has not conspired against any benign group.

“We are here because the alternative is a descent into dystopia. Today is a moment to reflect on our journey so far. The tragedies Nigeria survived to settle for this democracy, the fourth of such experiments, must inspire each of us to play our part to honour the labour of our founding fathers and mothers and remind ourselves of the principles that drove their resolve to build for us a diverse nation that has defied the pessimism of detached agents of anarchy,” he added.

Noting that it is not just a day of remembrance, the President stated that it is a call to action, even as he said young and competent Nigerians, including the patriotic and innovative, must all be engaged in crafting a succession plan that secures the desired future.

“It is through their energy, creativity, and commitment that we will build a Nigeria that stands resilient against the challenges of tomorrow. Let us therefore pledge to create an environment where every Nigerian, regardless of background, has the opportunity to contribute to our shared destiny,” President further noted.

Earlier, Secretary to Government of the Federation, George Akume, highlighted the sacrifices made by heroes and heroines who fought for democracy, with many paying the ultimate price.

He saluted the courage of Nigerians in upholding democratic values despite challenges. “Our democratic journey is one of optimism as reversal is never contemplated. Today provides an opportunity to salute the resilience of our people in believing in democracy,” Akume stated.

At the Democracy Day Lecture, Babagana Kingibe, the co-chair of the organising committee, highlighted the significance of democracy and governance in Nigeria, emphasizing that democracy is the only system of governance that derives its legitimacy directly from the people. He noted that while there is still a wide gap between theory and practice, democracy has provided Nigeria with political stability and continuity in government over the last 25 years.

He noted that democracy is built on several pillars, including government by the consent of the people, civil liberties, personal freedoms, the rule of law, strong institutions, and accountability.

He acknowledged that while there is still much work to be done, significant progress has been made in these areas, including the advancement of the rule of law and strengthening of democratic institutions such as Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the judiciary, and the police.

The former diplomat also stressed the importance of distinguishing between democracy as a system and governance as a process. He noted that democracy is not a perfect system, but it is the best alternative available.

Kingibe also highlighted the challenges that democratic governments face, including security, economic prosperity, inclusion, population growth, unemployment, uneven development, corruption, national cohesion, and infrastructural deficits.

In addressing these challenges, Kingibe urged that governments prioritise their choices and make decisions in a civil and mutually respectful manner.

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He stressed that demonization and vilification never solve problems and that the beauty of democracy lies in the people’s ability to deliver their verdict on the government’s performance at the next election cycle.

Kingibe concluded by emphasising the importance of collective success, stating that the attainment of Nigeria’s goals of a united, prosperous, and democratic nation can be assured if all hands are on deck. He called for patience and cooperation from the people to ensure the success of the government and the nation as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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