JUNE 12: A MILESTONE FOR DEMOCRACY
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The election of June 12th 1993 changed Nigeria profoundly. That it would have this deep and positive effect was not always certain. Many people laboured, struggled and sacrificed for democracy. They fought not that we would have democracy day but that Nigeria might exist as a democracy every day. When I say democracy, I mean more than that we conduct periodic elections. Democracy means that we adhere to and live by the enlightened premise that all human beings are of essential value and are possessed of fundamental rights and liberties, which cannot be arbitrarily taken away or denied.
Democracy means that everyone has a right to peacefully influence and determine who governs them and how their government should work. It means that we all have a right to pursue our ambitions and aspirations so long as our actions do not wrongfully impede the aspirations and hopes of others. We have the right to believe, think and pray as we deem fit. In our democratic system, nobody can dictate your beliefs and your thoughts unless you voluntarily permit them to do so. These things are what true democracy means and they are what we celebrate today.
In this, we dare not forget how we got to this point. Planting the seedlings of democracy required much toil and sacrifice. Many potent forces tried to prevent both the planting and the harvest.
People like late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, late Gani Fawehinmi, Baba Omojola, late Pa Rewane, late Pa Enahoro, Baba Ajasin, Pa Adesanya, Baba Adebanjo, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Femi Falana, members of the civil society groups, student-activists and others fought hard and struggled mightily on our behalf. Many laid down their lives that we may have this brighter moment. Many people who we do not even know gave of themselves and lost life or limb to bring this moment to pass.