Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has appealed to Nigerians to commit more efforts in building democracy, which he said is the best form of government, for the good of the country.
Otti, in his ‘2023 Democracy Day’ speech to the people of Abia State, a day set aside to celebrate the heroes of Nigeria’s democratic journey, observed that the country’s democracy remains flawed, having been a victim of the many aberrations of it.
He acknowledged that what Nigeria has now in terms of social and economic progress is still a far cry from what the men and women being celebrated gave their energy, material resources and life for.
“Truly, it must be admitted that we have not done enough to justify the commitments and sacrifices made by several celebrated and millions of unsung heroes to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.
“Even then, we must at least be comforted by the consciousness that across Nigeria today, there is an unspoken consensus that democracy remains the best governance and administrative vehicle to drive our nation to the dreamland of abundant prosperity and security for the greater majority.
“It is now beyond dispute that we cannot contemplate any other system of government outside democracy. Our job therefore is simple; we either commit more to the development of democracy in the country for our own good or we perish,” Otti said.
He also said that Nigerians cannot celebrate Democracy Day without remembering in a very special way, the individuals and groups who held back nothing in the fight to restore to Nigerians the right to have a say in who leads them, how they are governed and how decisions are made on their collective behalf.
Those heroes of democracy according to Otti, includes Moshood Abiola and his dear wife Kudirat Abiola and Pa Alfred Rewane, who paid with their lives that the country may enjoy the rights and privileges of living in a free society, because they understood that at the foundation of democracy is freedom.
According to him, these individuals did not dread death for the singular conviction that life itself loses its substance when freedom becomes negotiable.
Otti said that the return to democratic governance in 1999, six long years after the annulment of an election deemed the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, as unfortunate as that was, could have been delayed even further without the sacrifices, courage and fearless dispositions of great minds like Wole Soyinka, Frank Kokori, Anthony Enahoro, Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Beko Ransom-Kuti, Abubakar Umar, Ayo Opadokun, Alao Aka-Basorun, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Tunji Braithwaite, Shehu Sani, Authur Nwankwo and many other professionals, including lawyers, doctors, journalists, university lecturers, leaders and members of various labour and trade union bodies.
He affirmed that the list of heroes of Nigeria’s democracy would be incomplete if he failed to mention three dear sons of Abia, namely Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu, a rear admiral andChima Ubani, both of blessed memory, who gave their all in the collective and nationalistic efforts to return Nigeria to the path of popular democracy.
“The third is Ebitu Ukiwe, a commodore and former chief of General Staff. We salute all of them”.
He also acknowledged the many unsung heroes, market men and women, artisans, students and youths, who joined countless hours of protests, who insisted, without seeking or drawing attention to themselves, that Nigeria must again become a land of the free.
While celebrating these distinguished individuals and groups for all they sacrificed to drive political usurpers out of the nation’s political leadership, Otti urged Nigerians and Ndi Abia to be inspired by their acts of courage, belief in democracy and generosity of spirit, especially when it hurts most.
“Our democracy is still work in progress; some encouraging steps have been taken but again, we must bear no illusions as to where we are and where Abiola and others wanted us to be.
“Democracy is essentially about development, but unfortunately, we are still far from genuine development on several fronts.
“Scores of millions of our youths without jobs would surely have genuine misgivings about democracy and its promises, just as victims of rigged elections and political violence across the country would keep wondering, if what we have here is the same type of democracy that ushered several countries of the world to enduring prosperity and security, ” he said.