Celebrating June 12: From Darkness Unto Light
By Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
On this day, I join with all Nigerians in commemorating Democracy Day. The book of the life of this nation has many chapters already written and many more yet to be written.
One of the most profound and inspiring accounts that shall be written of our nation’s history will be the chapter on how we moved from the darkness of authoritarian military suppression into the light of democracy and the establishment of popular government based on the sovereign will of the people.
On this memorable day, we mark, with respect, and honor the sacrifices that have allowed democracy to come to pass. We also celebrate in anticipation of a future in which our democratic institutions, concepts and practices take firmer root; transforming this society from what it is to what it can be.
The pages of our national book inexorably turn. We have seen and experienced much. Victory and setback have entered and exited. The departure of friend and foe we have witnessed. The song of peace and unity we have sung as one national family while others have pounded the drums of war and hate. Laughter and sorrow, we have known.
Through it all, our gaze has remained fixed as if it were focused on a star in the firmament. Our road has remained certain for it is the only road we can reasonably tread. We have moved toward a better Nigeria and a greater democracy.
This path has not been without peril. There are many who care not for the journey we take. They embark on a different trek for they hold to a different concept of governance and of the relationship of government to the people.
They do not believe in a nation where every person therein has substantive rights, freedoms and liberties as God intended for all of his human creations regardless of place of birth, ethnic origin, social station or religious creed. These people hate democracy and despise you for choosing democracy over them and their oppressive ways.
They are violent and coldhearted. They love nothing, save the destruction of the happiness and peace of others.
They will not go away quietly or in consideration of the compelling logic of democratic governance.
Instead, they set us up in hopes of laying waste to the good society we seek to build. They levy terror against us in vain hope that their violent impositions might cause us to lose our way. They raze villages, destroy homes assault and kill innocent people.
They even attack important symbols of a just society including religious institutions, schools of learning and INEC offices as if they can snuff out, through violence, mankind’s will to worship God, seek knowledge or engage in participatory governance.
However, with all that they do, they will not succeed. In trying to pluck a democratic and just society from our hands they are as mistaken as they are evil.
Our democracy was not here established to be destroyed by the terrible likes of people such as these. Those who sacrificed their lives for democracy did not give of themselves so that we would be turned back by terrorists or by those who seek to tear the nation asunder just so they might imperially rule over some small part of it.
Despite the troubles we face, and those troubles are serious, we must stand up for democracy lest we shall find ourselves falling to oblivion. Democratic good governance offers the only reasonable solution to the challenges confronting Nigeria.
Thus, we must stand for democracy today. We must stand for it even more tomorrow. Ask this question 10, 20, 100 years from now, the answer must remain the same: the people of Nigeria stand for democracy and stand against that which would chase democracy from our land.
Thus, we stand against those who traffic in insurrection and violence. We stand against those whose commerce is bigotry and hatred. We contend against those who would render the people ignorant and poor.
We stand for a better way. We celebrate Democracy Day not only because we have come far but to help give us the social fuel and encouragement to continue onward because we have farther to go and even greater things to achieve as one nation and one people.
On this day, let us remember MKO Abiola whose victory in the June 12th 1993 presidential election was stolen from him. Yet he remained steadfast and surrendered his own life so that we all might enjoy the democratic victory that was taken from him. Without his historic effort and sacrifice, this day would not be democracy day. It would be a downcast and disappointing one. Let us also remember all others who also sacrificed so much to bring democracy to this land.
We best honor these people not by reciting their names but by injecting the spirit and hope of democracy into our words and deeds. In becoming better democrats, we also become better at being Nigerians.
I wish all of you a meaningful and happy Democracy Day