China To Approve $5.3bn For Nigeria’s Railway Construction, Says Amaechi

 

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says China has been very helpful to Nigeria.

He stated this on Friday during a special broadcast which aired on Channels Television to mark the nation’s Democracy Day.

The Minister noted that the People Republic of China and the Chinese people have been very helpful to the Federal Government following the disbursement of cash to fun infrastructure, especially railway.

For instance, Amaechi said the Asian country released $1.6billion for the Lagos-Ibadan railway and is expected to approve $5.3billion by October.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese people have been very helpful to Nigeria. They have released $1.6billion for the Lagos-Ibadan.

“They have agreed to approve (and) we hope that by October, they should be able to approve the $5.3billion for the Federal Government of Nigeria so that we can commence and complete the construction of the Ibadan-Kano railway,” he said.

READ ALSO: APC Committee Disqualifies Obaseki, Others From Edo Primary Election

The Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway is an under-construction standard gauge railway across Nigeria, from the Atlantic Ocean port of Lagos to Kano, near the Niger border.

The railway will run parallel to the British-built Cape gauge line, which has a lower design capacity and is in a deteriorated condition.

The railway is being built in segments. Only the segment between Abuja and Kaduna has been completed so far, and services began officially in July 2016.

The 187 km segment is an important junction point on the existing Cape gauge railway network, where a branch line departs the Lagos–Nguru line for Kafanchan, on the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Railway.

Buhari Praises Heroes Of Democracy, Promises Press Freedom

President Muhammadu Buhari before his Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, 2020.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has paid tribute to Nigerians who paid the price to ensure democracy thrives in the country.

In a national broadcast to mark this year’s Democracy Day, he noted that the country has enjoyed 21 years of uninterrupted democratic rule as a result of the sacrifice made by the nation’s founding fathers.

“This day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation, our achievements, and struggles.

“It is a day to honour our founding fathers who toiled to establish our republic and every Nigerian who has worked tirelessly to sustain it,” the President said on Friday.

He stated that sustaining the nation’s democracy thus far has been a collective struggle and thanked Nigerians, especially leaders of various democratic institutions for their resilience.

President Buhari gave the assurance that this administration would always promote respect for the rule of law and ensure that the fundamental rights of the common Nigerian were protected.

“This administration is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law and I would do my utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.

“Government has initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalisation of a responsive legal system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their mandates, and improve our custodial system of justice,” he added.

 

Pledge For Press Freedom

The National Assembly, according to the President, has been an important partner in the quest to sustain democracy and achieve development objectives.

He, therefore, thanked the leadership and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives for their invaluable support for his administration.

President Buhari also appreciated members of the press for their doggedness in the struggle for the attainment of democracy since the beginning of nationhood.

He acknowledged that the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been perfect.

“There is no denying the fact that you have been an effective watchdog for the society, especially in holding public officers to account. It is sad that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues have had to pay a heavy price.

“We will continue to guarantee freedom of the Press as we place a high premium on responsible journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news, and other unethical professional conduct,” the President said.

Democracy Day: Nigeria Marks 21 Years Of Uninterrupted Civil Rule

This picture, which was taken on June 12, 2019, shows a section of the Eagle Square in Abuja where the Democracy Day celebrations held last year.

 

 

Today is Democracy Day, a day set aside by the Federal Government to honour the late businessman and politician, Moshood Abiola, believed to have won the 1993 presidential election.

This is the second time Democracy Day is being celebrated on June 12 since the return of democracy in 1999, as it was previously marked on May 29, to commemorate the day power was handed over to a democratically-elected government after years of military rule.

It was first marked as Democracy Day on the new date in 2019 after President Buhari on June 6, 2018, announced that the day would hold on June 12 of every year.

Following that decision, the House of Representatives on December 6, 2018, passed the bill seeking to amend the Holiday Act, which was also passed by the Senate on May 16, 2019, after it was put to a voice vote.

On June 12, 2019, none of the former Heads of State and Presidents attended the Democracy Day celebrations held at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

In a statement announcing Friday as a public holiday, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, commended Nigerians for their dogged determination and sacrifice which led to democratic governance in the country.

The day is, however, celebrated on lowkey as Nigeria battles with coronavirus (COVID-19) which has killed thousands of people across the world.

On the eve of the Democracy Day, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the highest single-day COVID-19 figure, 681 – since the outbreak of the disease in the country.

According to the agency, Nigeria now has 14,554 cases with 4,494 of the patients discharged and 387 deaths recorded.

President Buhari’s Full Speech On Democracy Day

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday addressed Nigerians on the occasion of the Democracy Day.

Read the speech by the President below:

NATIONAL BROADCAST BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI ON DEMOCRACY DAY, JUNE 12TH 2020

Fellow Nigerians,
1. The 2020 celebration of Democracy Day marks 21 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country. This day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation, our achievements and struggles.

2. It is a day to honour our founding fathers who toiled to establish our republic and every Nigerian who has worked tirelessly to sustain it.

3. We are celebrating this year’s Democracy Day despite the COVID-19 pandemic which afflicts our nation and the whole world.

4. It is indeed a very difficult time for everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those whose sources of livelihood have been severely constrained by the stringent measures we introduced at every level of government to contain the virus and save lives.

5. The dedication of our health and other essential services staff towards containing this virus is a testament of our courage and resilience as a people and as a great nation, and I use this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your service to the nation.

6. Sustaining our democracy thus far has been a collective struggle, and I congratulate all Nigerians and particularly leaders of our democratic institutions on their resilience and determination to ensure that Nigeria remains a shining example of democracy.

7. In my 2019 Democracy Day address, I promised to frontally address the nation’s daunting challenges, especially insecurity, economy and corruption. I therefore find it necessary to give an account of my stewardship on this day.

8. We have recorded notable achievements in the course of implementing our nine priority objectives and are establishing a solid foundation for future success.

9. On the economic front, our objectives have remained to stabilize the macroeconomy, achieve agricultural and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, develop infrastructure, fight corruption and improve governance.

10. We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

11. Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.

12. In order to stabilize the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.

13. Agriculture remains the key to our economic diversification strategy. The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to our farmers. This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain.

14. Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.

15. Through the food security initiative, we are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”. I am also delighted that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector. I assure you that government will continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.

16. To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies.

17. We are also integrating rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.

18. Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million.

19. Africa presents a huge opportunity for our export base diversification and we are developing our strategy to grow intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

20. Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.

21. This development is due to the Visa on Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%. We are confident that on-going efforts would result in further improvement of this rating.

22. We remain committed to expanding our mining sector. To this end, I have directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.

23. With foreign and domestic investments and the participation of Small Scale Miners, we are harnessing the supply value chain in gold production.

24. We would also be launching a fully digitized mineral rights management platform for quick processing of mineral rights application, digitization of records and plugging revenue leakages.

25. The Power Sector remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies.

26. We are executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the:

a. Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano;

b. 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba;

c. Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project;

d. Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and

e. Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

27. Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs.

28. On transportation, another critical sector to improving our economic competitiveness, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.

29. Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.

30. The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well. On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved. We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

31. Furthermore, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

32. We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

33. The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.

34. The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning.

35. Government continues to make investments in the Aviation sector to position it as a travel and trade hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.

36. Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are being expanded, while the rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed. All our airports are being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety standards.

37. For the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.

38. We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.

39. With sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored peace in the Niger Delta Region and maintained our oil production levels.

40. The Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.

41. Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.

42. Digital Economy continues to play an important role in our development agenda as we move into the age of Artificial Intelligence.

43. Since the creation of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched. Steps have been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30%.

44. Nigeria remains committed to expanding access to quality education to enhance the productivity of its citizens and would continue to pursue the enforcement of free and compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling.

45. In pursuit of this, we have launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states, established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation.

46. In our revision of the operations of specialized education funds and to implement reforms that would optimize their benefits to the sector, we have adopted a Public-Private Sector Partnership for provision of infrastructure and also collaborate with the private sector to create jobs.

47. Our pursuit of affordable housing for the low and middle-income earners has received a boost with the delivery of 1,200 housing units, provision of 520 service plots with infrastructure through a Public Private Sector partnership and the issuance of 868 mortgages totaling N7.7 Billion. Similarly, Home Renovation Loans totaling N16.2 Billion have been granted to 19,210 people.

48. To enable sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic development needs of all Nigerians, we continue to expand our water supply, irrigation and dam facilities.

49. The Completion of Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of about 43,354 direct jobs and 71,172 indirect jobs, would provide more support for irrigation agriculture and water supply.

50. To further institutionalize our effort in this regard, I signed the Executive Order 009 on Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.

51. In order to improve our forest cover and in fulfilment of my commitment at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, we have commenced the planting of 25 million trees. This initiative will also contribute to our effort to mitigate the effect of climate change.

52. In the area of security, we remain unshaken in our resolve to protect our national infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

53. Ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.

54. All the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.

55. The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.

56. I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.

57. I must implore state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the Security Agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas. I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.

58. As part of the strengthening of our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police Affairs was created.

59. Amongst others, Government has expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security Communication System and commenced the implementation of the Community Policing Strategy.

60. Government has similarly established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund as a public-private sector vehicle for alternative sources of funding security activities.

61. To reduce security challenges through our external borders especially smuggling of oil products out of the country, inflow of small arms and drugs into the country and equally protect our local manufacturers, we introduced operation “Ex-Swift Response” closing our borders from August 20th 2019, and have considerably succeeded in meeting its objectives as well as improving our national revenue.

62. Our Government has continued to work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programmes, education, technology and improved information.

63. Our Social Investment Programme has continued to be a model to other nations and has engaged 549,500 N-Power beneficiaries, 408,682 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and 2,238,334 beneficiaries of the Growth Enhancement and Empowerment Programme. This is being done in collaboration with the States.

64. Similarly, “Marketmoni” and “Tradermoni” Programmes have provided affordable loans to small and micro scale enterprises to grow their businesses. Under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, over 9,963,729 children are being fed to keep them in school and improve their nutritional status.

65. Fellow Nigerians, the year 2020 has been like none other. In January 2020, the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of global infections has risen from less than 8,000 shared between China and eighteen other countries to over 7million spread over 216 countries and on all continents.

66. Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days, I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month, which underscores the gravity of this pandemic.

67. There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones. Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some relatives and friends.

68. In order to have a robust National response, I approved a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to provide guidance and leadership in tackling the pandemic nationwide.

69. State Governments also constituted their own COVID-19 Task Forces. Complementing this was the establishment of a National Emergency Operations Centre responsible for providing technical and professional guidance in the National Response.

70. The overall objective of the PTF COVID-19 is to ensure that the pandemic does not overwhelm our health systems, while ensuring that we maintain an effective Case Management System to help in containing the spread of the virus.

71. The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.

72. As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.

73. I receive regular briefing from the PTF on COVID-19. I note that the National Response relies on Science, Data and Experience in taking decisions. This informed my approval for the ease of lock down phase to ensure a balance between lives and livelihoods.

74. I am confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve. I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.

75. Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.

76. Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.

77. Government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions. Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.

78. Anti-Corruption Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.

79. The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address.

80. I will continue to give all the necessary support for the on-going reforms designed to return discipline, integrity and patriotism as the hallmark of the public service.

81. In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorized that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation.

82. Our youth population remains a source of strength in achieving development objectives. In this regard, we would continue to concentrate in developing their skills, providing them with opportunities to express their entrepreneurial, research and industrial capacities as well as ample opportunity to take leadership positions in the service of the nation.

83. The commitment of this Administration to the well-being of people living with disabilities remains unwavering. Government recognises their contributions to development. I have directed that all relevant Government agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment.

84. Nigerian women remain a particular treasure to this nation and for this reason this Administration has continued to give them a place of pride in the affairs of our country.

85. I salute your courage, enterprise and resilience as well as your contributions to national development. I wish to assure all our women of this administration’s determination to fight Gender Based Violence through the instrumentality of the law and awareness creation. I am particularly upset at recent incidents of rape especially of very young girls. The Police are pursuing these cases with a view to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice.

86. Government continues to recognize and harness the power of the media for positive development. The reforms of the broadcast and advertising industries including digital switch over and continuous engagement through town hall meetings remain central to accurate and credible information dissemination.

87. Our culture provides the basis for our existence as a people and a nation. In preserving iconic aspects of our national culture, this government has been pursuing the recovery of artefacts removed from Nigeria, promoting heritage sites and festivals and working towards designating some of our heritage sites as UNESCO World Heritage Centres.

88. This administration is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law and I would do my utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.

89. Government has initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalization of a responsive legal system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their mandates and improve our custodial system of justice.

90. The National Assembly has been an important partner in our quest to sustain our democracy and achieve our development objectives.

91. I therefore greatly thank the leadership and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives for their invaluable support at all times.

92. I will also like to convey our deep appreciation to members of the Press for your doggedness in the struggle for attainment of democracy since the beginning of our nationhood.

93. I must admit that the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been perfect. But there is no denying the fact that you have been an effective watchdog for the society especially in holding public officers to account. It is sad that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues have had to pay a heavy price.

94. We will continue to guarantee freedom of the Press as we place high premium on responsible journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news and other unethical professional conduct.

95. Fellow Nigerians, as we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, let us remember that, notwithstanding our aspirations, humanity and indeed democracy is under the threat of COVID-19. Nigeria has survived many crises before and came out stronger. I am confident that by God’s grace we shall overcome this one and emerge stronger and more purposeful.

96. Thank you for listening. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Democracy Day: Atiku Calls For Reform Of Electoral Process

A file photo of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for the immediate reform of the nation’s electoral process.

In his Democracy Day message, he also stressed the need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, asked authorities to ensure that the votes of the people were not only counted but should count.

According to him, celebrating Democracy Day is an affirmation of the nation’s collective struggles towards a system of participatory government.

The former vice president, however, regretted that many compatriots paid the ultimate price along the line in the struggle which spanned decades.

He urged Nigerians to use the occasion of the Democracy Day to remember the nation’s fallen heroes of democratic rule, as well as the anonymous ones whom he said lost their lives as a result of bad governance.

Read Atiku’s full message below:

My Message To Nigerians On The Occasion Of The 21st Anniversary Of Democracy Day

The celebration of Democracy Day is an affirmation of our collective struggles towards a system of participatory government and acceptance of the primacy of the rule of law.

Along the line in the struggle which spanned decades, many a compatriot paid the ultimate price. While today may well be a day dedicated to democracy, it is also very well a Remembrance Day for our fallen heroes of democratic rule.

Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and many more too numerous to mention who lost their lives in order for us to have a democracy.

Yet, there are so many other heroes who remain unsung. They are Nigerians who have fallen victims of bad governance.

While we may have a day dedicated to celebrating democracy, it remains saddening that we have not delivered enough dividends to our people to be happy over.

Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels. Many, if not all of them have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country. But the results of their efforts, judging by what we have at hand today, clearly shows that our best has not been good enough thus far.

It is clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues that has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation. To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment – a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.

It is when we do that, that democracy can pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is counterproductive to the notion of participatory democracy.

As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by expanding the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance by making sure that ballots cast during an election are sacrosanct in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge.

However, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that votes are not only counted, but that they do count, there is an urgent need to accelerate needed electoral reforms that will address the lapses in previous elections.

On the occasion of Democracy Day, being marked against the backdrop of the uncertainties of this season, may the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in the struggle to enthrone the democratic rule that we are enjoying today never be in vain.

Atiku Abubakar

Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007

11th June 2020

What Nigerian Leaders Should Learn From MKO – Jamiu Abiola

Mr Jamiu, son of late MKO Abiola, urges Nigerian leaders to be selfless in their service to the nation.

 

 

One of the children of late MKO Abiola, Jamiu, has advised leaders in the country to take a cue from his father and move the nation forward.

Speaking during an interview with Channels Television on Friday, Jamiu urged the leaders to be selfless in their service to the nation.

“I think it is a clarion call to everyone to always look beyond what he (Abiola) did to what we can do today,” he said on the occasion of the Democracy Day.

The writer and author added, “If we learn from him and we do what he used to do, in terms of thinking less of himself and more of others, then what he has done will now become progressively continuous; it will not just stop with his death.”

A file photo of late MKO Abiola.

 

According to Jamiu, the central message for Nigeria is to look beyond Abiola’s struggle for good governance and implement some of the things he advocated in the past.

He insisted that Nigerians cannot continue to say “he (Abiola) did this, he did that without implementing some of these things and becoming more selfless.”

In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari changed the date to mark Democracy Day in Nigeria from May 29 to June 12.

The date for the occasion which commemorates the return to civilian rule was changed in honour of late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election.

Democracy Day: Pray For Nigeria To Overcome Its Myriads Of Security Challenges – Gbajabiamila

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has congratulated Nigerians for marking this year’s Democracy Day.

The Speaker said since 1999, Nigeria has come a long way in democratic practice, noting that the country’s system is growing by the day.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said he believes Nigeria has learnt a lot in the last 21 years of uninterrupted democracy.

Gbajabiamila used the occasion to call on Nigerians to remain united in the face of daunting challenges facing the country.

READ ALSO: June 12: Democracy Is A Process That Evolves With Time – Senate President

He also called for fervent prayers for the country to overcome the myriad of security challenges in parts of Nigeria.

He said Nigerian leaders and the citizens must work toward sustaining the country’s democracy as it is the system that protects the interest of all.

Gbajabiamila expressed satisfaction that June 12 has now become Nigeria’s Democracy Day, courtesy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government.

He paid glowing tributes to the heroes of Nigeria’s democracy, saying their efforts must be improved upon.

June 12: Democracy Is A Process That Evolves With Time – Senate President

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, has felicitated with Nigerians on the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day, the second time it is being celebrated on June 12.

In his message late on Thursday, the Senate President said June 12 has become a metaphor in our country for free, fair and credible elections and a memorial for the day in which Nigerians stoutly rose above ethnic and religious sentiments to deliver a pan-Nigerian mandate for the revival of hope in their country unity and attainment of its great potential.

Mr Lawan stated that the heroic demonstration of patriotism by the Nigerian voters on June 12, 1993 will continue to inspire generations of their compatriots to promote national unity and defend democracy in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Democracy Day: Pray For Nigeria To Overcome Its Myriads Of Security Challenges – Gbajabiamila

He noted that having come this far in our journey as a nation, we have no reason to doubt our ability to govern ourselves and attain our great potential as a nation.

“Our uninterrupted practice of democracy in the last 21 years attests that democratic civil rule is taking roots and becoming firmly entrenched in Nigeria.

“While there is a consensus that democracy is the best form of government, it is also important to stress that democracy is a process that evolves with time.

“We should, therefore, continue to have faith in the capacity of our system to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.

“On our part as the Legislature, we will continue to provide the platform for improving that system and democratic practice across board.

“The on-going process of constitutional amendment and the much awaited electoral reforms will take cognizance of our past pitfalls and the democratic ethos required to guide us to where we want to be,” Lawan stated.

He urge all Nigerians to embrace a healthy democratic practice devoid of desperation and violence. He wished Nigeria eternal peace, unity and prosperity.

Democracy Day: Obasanjo Owes Nigerians An Explanation For His Absence – Garba Shehu

Photo combination of Garba Shehu and Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

 

The Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu says Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo needs to explain to Nigerians why he was absent at 2019 Presidential inauguration and Democracy Day.

Shehu in a statement on Wednesday said Obasanjo’s claim that he was not invited to the inauguration cannot be sustained because he was duly invited.

He added that the letter inviting Obasanjo to the event was written by the Secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha on May 19.

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“The former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, owes an answer to Nigerians on his absence from the 2019 Presidential inauguration and Democracy Day celebration because the claim that he was not invited or he did not receive an invitation cannot be sustained.

“Since the claim was first made, elements in the polity that have deliberately and consistently been trying to lead the country toward polarization have cashed in on it, throwing all manner of rubbish at the Buhari Presidency.

“The fact remains that the Secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha wrote on May 16th, 2019 to: “His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, Former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road, Ibara, P.O.Box 2286, Abeokuta, Ogun State.”

“The invitation was sent to Chief Obasanjo’s known forwarding address, detailing out all the major events, and the invitation cards were delivered by a reputable courier company as confirmed.

“The receipt of the letter and invitation cards as delivered by the courier company was confirmed by Mr. Taiwo Ojo, the long-standing Personal Secretary to the former President.

“If in the circumstance, Chief Obasanjo did not see or receive the letter and invitation cards as published by Vanguard newspaper (Page 16, June 16, 2019) and several other news platforms, then the former President needs to find out what is happening with his own secretariat.

“The government office did its job diligently and should not be blemished for no reason.”

Democracy Day: Remember Those Who Died In The Fight For June 12 – Joseph Eva

Joseph Eva

 

Member of the Ijaw Monitoring Group and a Niger Delta Activist, Joseph Eva, has asked Nigerians to remember those who died in the fight for June 12 not just for Moshood Abiola but for the sake of unity.

Mr. Eva who was appreciative with the recent declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, noted that there were people who were involved in the struggle and gave up their lives to ensure the day is memorable.

“As we remember those who died, let us remember those who prayed that Nigerians should recongise the important of the June 12 election not just for Abiola but for the sake of unity”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Televisions Lunch Time Politics programme, the Niger Delta activist, commended the Federal Government for setting the day aside to mark democracy and as a public holiday.

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For those of us seeing today June 12 as a public holiday, we want to thank the African brothers, Presidents and others who came to celebrate the day because they know the significance of this day.

We want to thank the President (Muhammadu Buhari) for him to say June 12 should be officially recongise as Democracy Day.

The Delta Activist expressed concern regarding the kind of democracy practiced in the country, adding that such kind of democracy is the civil rule.

observing the general elections, he said that politicians were involved in a lot of vote buying, and there has been a lack of respect for court ruling among other issues.

“It is civil rule that is being practiced in Nigeria’s democracy today because there is a lot of voting buying if you don’t have the money you cannot contest an election, while some people don’t respect the court ruling, so we cannot qualify that as real democracy”.

Mr. Eva was however optimistic that Nigeria’s democracy will get better with time.

It Is Not Enough To Declare June 12 Democracy Day – Atiku

 

Nigeria’s Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says it is not enough to just declare June 12 as Democracy Day.

Atiku said as much as it is celebratory and commendable to declare it Democracy Day, the idea behind the event of June 12 embodies something much bigger.

“It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.

“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when the ordinary people of Nigeria still don’t have the freedom to find a better life from the suffocating grip of poverty, when Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty.

“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when a disproportionate number of citizens are not sure of where their next meal will come from and when the sanctity of their lives is not guaranteed.

“It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when freedom of the press, and of speech, fundamentals of democracy is being assailed.

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“Suffice it to state that the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day much as celebratory and commendable it might seem.

“The idea behind the event of June 12, 1993, embodies something much bigger than that. It was a threshold moment in our national life that demands of us as democrats to do a soul searching and ask the salient question of all time: how better off are Nigerians?” he asked.

Atiku, who was also the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election said The significance of the celebration of June 12, 1993, Presidential Election is a reminder of our history to becoming a democratic country. On this day twenty-six years ago, Nigeria voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.

The collective decision by Nigerians to elect democracy on that day was not to aggrandize the political elite or to replace the military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. No! The choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.

As a compatriot who stood shoulder to shoulder with the icon of the June 12 struggle, Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory, I know first-hand that the choice of HOPE as his campaign slogan wasn’t merely a populist tokenism. He didn’t mean to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon. And, today, the minimum requirement for any June 12 convert is to demand of them wherever they may be either in government or in private lives to deliver on the promises they made to the people.

It is therefore not acceptable that an administration which had an opportunity of four years to deliver the promise of change to Nigerians, not only reneged on that promise but propelled the country into a near-comatose state will lay claims to being a true friend of the June 12 struggle.

To be a lover of June 12 is to believe in the common good of the people. June 12 is about the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy. It is about having the skills to create wealth and jobs for the teeming mass of unemployed. It is not about the inclination for shared pains; it is about shared prosperity.

As we celebrate yet another episode of the June 12 struggle, the desire for hope is more preponderant today much as it was twenty-six years ago. So, for all true lovers of democracy, let us keep the HOPE alive.