By Ebenezer Ishola
The commemoration of another June 12 occasion must come with a deep reflection of the progress recorded so far in the nation’s democratic experiment, while joining efforts to correct the imperfections yet to be addressed to make the system of government worthwhile, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu told Lagosians in a statement, on Sunday, to mark Democracy Day.
The Governor said June 12 remained a rallying symbol around which Nigerians’ aspirations for unity, hope, better condition of living and true democratic practices were built. The hope of creating a better country, Sanwo-Olu charged, must be rekindled by the sacrifices made by past political actors that laid down their lives, especially the late Chief Moshood Abiola, who paid supreme price.
He said the commemoration of the Democracy Day must be a reminder of the importance of joining hands to build the future all citizens desire, without recourse to fanning the embers of ethnicity, religious difference and other dividing fault lines. The Governor stressed that the most pronounced hallmark of the June 12, 1993 elections was the rejection of ethno-religious stereotypes. This, he said, made the process the most acceptable political process in the nation’s annals.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The challenge before all of us today, as Lagosians and Nigerians, is that June 12 must become a symbol of unity, of hope, of aspiration for a better tomorrow, one built upon true democratic ideals and practices. The Democracy Day must be a reminder of the importance of joining hands to build the future we want. Twenty-nine years ago on this day, Nigerians trooped enthusiastically to the polls, defying stereotypes of ethnicity and religion to prove to ourselves and the world that a new Nigeria is possible.
“Regrettably, the powers-that-be at the time truncated that dream. But it was merely a delay, not a denial. We have since been blessed with a new opportunity to build on the hope and the potential of June 12, 1993. That responsibility is now in our hands, and posterity will not forgive us if we squander it. We have seen our democracy at work. It is not perfect, but no democracy is. There are still gaps to be closed, and processes to be improved upon, but there is no doubt that the journey we started over two decades ago is fully on course and maturing.”
Sanwo-Olu said there had been a lot of milestones recorded in the current fourth republic to expand participation in the political process, citing the enactment of a new Electoral Act unanimously passed by both chambers of the National Assembly. The Governor listed other milestones achieved in the current democratic journey to include the passing of the “Not Too Young To Run” Act, and continuous amendments to the Constitution.
Democracy, he said, will work better if there is constant and consistent effort at improvement, through the instrumentality of new laws, policies, and the introduction of technology.
Sanwo-Olu said the ultimate goal of civilian rule is to improve the lives of the people. As a Government elected by the majority, the Governor said his administration would not take the responsibility of good governance lightly, stressing that the ruling party in the State had worked hard to meet the yearnings of the people since inception of the fourth republic.
He said: “Since 1999, successive governments in Lagos have worked hard to meet the yearnings of the people who have consistently given us the mandate through the ballot box. We are grateful to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for kickstarting this journey, and for laying the foundation for a truly modern and prosperous Lagos. In education, healthcare, housing, transport, environment, technology, security, and many other areas, Lagos has continued to live up to its “Pacesetter” status.
“As we start the final year of our first term in office, our focus is on completing the many laudable programmes and projects that we have started. Even as this period will overlap with campaign season, our good people of Lagos can rest assured that we will never allow politicking to get in the way of governance. Our work for a Greater Lagos continues, even as we seek your mandate for a new term in office.”
The Governor thanked all Lagosians for supporting and standing by the Government in the period of challenges. He promised to continue to explore and apply democratic ideals in proffering solutions to challenges facing the State.