As Nigeria marks 15 years of uninterrupted democratic rule today, a former Vice-President Atiku Ababakar, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and his deputy, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, have called for peace and unity as the only elixir to move the country forward.
In their various press statements made available to THISDAY, the leaders said with peace, unity and growth of democracy, Nigeria was on its way to greatness.
Atiku in his own message, called on Nigerians to collectively protect the country’s democracy, which was attained after years of struggle to end military rule in Nigeria.
He encouraged Nigerians to emulate the examples of statesmen and women like late Moshood K.O Abiola, Bola Ige, Kudirat Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi, whose lives were fully committed to democracy in Nigeria.
Atiku said that the end of military rule in Nigeria brought about a new era of regular elections as well as the return of civil liberties, free press and an end to arbitrary arrests and torture, but said that Nigeria was gradually deviating from that path.
“The responsibility for our country’s democracy lies with each and every one of us,” he said. “We must participate actively in the process of governance, and ensure that the constitution and the rule of law are upheld at all times.”
He described as pitiful, a situation where the government and the armed forces debate critical issues bordering on national security in public. “Relations between civil-military authorities should be managed with care and maturity to safeguard our democracy. Some of the issues being discussed in public are not matters for the market square,” Atiku emphasised.
Atiku then urged Nigerians to contribute their quota to national security by reporting any suspicious activity to the police.
In his message, Tambuwal said despite various challenges confronting the nation, democracy remained the only option available to Nigerians to weather the storm and build a prosperous country.
In a message the message issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal identified sincerity of purpose, peaceful co-existence and rapid socio-economic development of all sectors as critical elements in deepening democracy and rule of law.
He said democracy as a system of government does not thrive on empty stomach, hence all leaders must collectively work hard to reduce poverty and promote the quality of life of all Nigerians.
The speaker said Nigerians have shown great faith in democracy and its institutions, as such, no challenge should be allowed to dampen their enthusiasm and desire for the progress of the people.
While congratulating Nigerians for witnessing 15 years of uninterrupted democratic, the Speaker noted that the House of Representatives, and indeed the National Assembly, will live up to its billings by enacting laws for the peace, unity and good governance of the nation.
On his party, Ihedioha did not only sue for peace, he further called on Nigerians to remain faithful to the ideals of nationalism and nation building against all odds.
Noting that this was a trying time for Nigeria, the deputy speaker urged Nigerians not to lose hope in the task of forging unity in the country as “we have no other country to call our own and we surely overcome the forces of terror and divisiveness if we remain resolute in holding a common front.”
Ihedioha described democracy as one of the nation’s greatest assets that must be guarded jealously as it places the destiny of citizens in their own hands and thrust the task of leadership and the management of the nation’s resources upon their shoulders.
While regretting the spate of killings and violence in some parts of the country, he enjoined Nigerians irrespective of tribal, religious or political party affiliations to build a formidable coalition against insurgency and strive to ensure peace in the country, as there can never be development without peace and security.
He also pledged the commitment of the federal legislature to redouble its efforts towards ensuring security in the country in order to improve the lives and living conditions of Nigerians through purposeful law making and other legislative activities.