Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, says integrity of electoral process and government’s accountability to the people are minimum requirements of appreciating Nigerians’ sacrifices at enthroning democracy.
In a statement by his media office on Monday in Abuja, Abubakar said that Nigeria’s journey to democracy was a tortuous one that claimed “lives and limbs of many patriots’’.
He said that it was incumbent on beneficiaries of the people’s sacrifices to advance the course of democracy through transparent elections and making governmental institutions work for the people.
“The democracy that we celebrate today is a fruit of the labour of patriots, some of who paid the supreme price.
“As inheritors of this beautiful concept of democracy, it behoves us to ensure that democracy is nurtured not just as a mechanism for a periodic change of government, but as a social construct.
“The ultimate virtue in democracy is the power that it bestows in the people.
“The very essence of that power lies in the ability of the people to live a complete lifestyle that enables every man or woman to triumph in his or her legitimate pursuit.’’
Abubakar added that the concept of democracy was absolutely in-congruent with a notion of regimentation either in the political or economic sphere.
He said that as Nigeria moved forward, it was important to respond to the dynamics of time in proffering solutions to some of the challenges that beset us.
“Today, the popular clamour among our people is the need to make government more responsive and responsible.
“Our challenges about insecurity and diversification of the economy have acquired new phases in the past few years and thus should our solutions to those challenges require a brand new thinking.
“As the nation goes through a cycle of elections in the coming months, it is important that the integrity of the electoral process is sacrosanct with guarantees of free and fair election.
“Democracy is by itself a self-correcting concept, but only if there is guarantee of credibility in the electoral process.’’
The former vice president advised Nigerians to spare some time to reflect and to mourn all those murdered in the ongoing needless killings across the country.
“These Nigerians have been killed in the continuing murderous rampage of criminal elements across the country.’’
These, according to Abubakar, include Nigerians killed in Borno, Yobe, “Benue River Valley, stretching from Adamawa through Taraba to the confluence of Kogi and Benue, and including Nasarawa, Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Zamfara.
“Others have been killed by armed robbers, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other marauding bandits.
“The killings have even extended to sacred places of worship where innocent Imams and Christian clergy and worshipers are slaughtered and the carnage has gone on for too long and must stop.’’
He recalled that in a letter he sent to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria recently on the killings, he pointed out that only government could stop the senseless killings.
Abubakar said that the killing must be stopped if Nigerians were to avoid major and further damage to the fabric of their fragile unity.
He added that recent history of Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Central African Republic, among others, should be a strident warning to all Nigerians, especially those in government.
He said that citizens had mourned Nigerian souls to terror attacks enough for them to learn that it was insufficient that the Federal Government had exclusive statutory mandate in providing security for the people.
“Our economy has become too exposed to the vagaries of global oil prices for us not to decipher that we need to invest massively in infrastructure and liberalize the economy to create fresh opportunities for the people.
“Our communities and associations have become so divided that we cannot even begin to confront the most basic of our challenges when we don’t share a mutual sense of belonging.’’
The former vice president, therefore, advised that those were some of the challenges that the country must begin to re-evaluate their manifestation.
“The significance of our celebration of democracy today should mean that we employ the broadmindedness and participatory notion of democracy in seeking solutions to them.’’ (NAN)