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June 12: The Need To Practicalize, Institutionalize, Internalize Democratic Cultures & Ideals- By Henry Ekine

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JUNE 12 AND THE DEMOCRATIC IDEALS As Nigeria marks June 12 as Democracy Day, it is only reasonably imperative that Governments at all levels, state actors, security agencies and the people must demonstrate palpable commitment to democratic ideals, institutionalize democratic principles and internalize democratic culture. Executive policies and programs must focus on the security and welfare the people; legislative functions and enactments, judicial pronouncements or orders, as well as interrelations amongst citizens must reflect the democratic ideals of rule of law, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, free and fair elections, strong political system, political parties upholding internal democratic liberties, independent electoral umpire and promoting political socialization/culture, free and fair elections devoid of electoral violence and frivolous electoral litigation.

These ideals will lead us to the true world of democracy. June 12, 1993, precisely 27 years ago, Nigerians went to the polls in a general election to install a democratic government during the Third Republic of its Democratic dispensation. On the basis of universal adult suffrage, Nigerians of 18 years and above, irrespective of tribe, religion, sex, cultural background and educational status enthusiastically voted in a free and fair election, which was unfortunately and selfishly annulled. The unjustifiable annulment dealt a definite irreparable injury on Nigeria’s political history and the development of democracy. It was the annulment of the election that resulted in progressive and consistent agitations and mass protests by the true people. The people were robbed of their mandate and they took out continuous protests relentlessly for over 27 years now. The Nigerian people stood for their mandate; many were incarcerated, others went on exile. June 12 was therefore truly the struggle of the oppressed people against the state and the oppressive tendencies of the ruling class. It became a philosophy, an ideology against despotic dictatorial regimes, whether in military form or in deceitful civil outlook. June 12 became a movement for democratization of the; it apparently became a platform for the sober demand for the sovereignty of the people and the mandate of the oppressed middle and lower class citizens. June 12 is not about the state and its ruling oppressors; it is surely not about state funfair, or parades and salutations; not merely a public holiday for state functions of heads of nations or Heads of Governments to assemble in mockery of the people. June 12 remains a historic symbolization of the resilience of the Nigerian people to demand and insist on their sovereignty, their convictions, their liberty and fundamental freedoms to participate and determine the issues of their common future. It is imperative that we uphold the true essence, purport, philosophy and ideology behind the phenomenon of June 12, lest the same oppressors who stole and still continue to steal the very sovereignty and mandate of the people, now in a new and deceitful outlook of purported civil rule, would pilfer away that very essence of the cherished June 12; lest they would re-write and distort the history and misinform the future generation. Marking June 12 as Democracy Day is symbolic; the message, the essence and the activities must remain as cherished by the oppressed people of our great country, whose sovereignty and mandate were and have been stolen by the oppressive ruling class, then in Military guise, now politicians in civil outlook.

June 12 must continue to reflect on the demands of the people and the role of Civil Society Groups, including CDHR, CLO, NADECO, NBA, NLC, ASUU, NUJ, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, etc and how they contributed immensely to the consistent agitation to end oppressive regimes and enthrone democratic governance. The reflection must always include the roles and sacrifices of several Nigerians, including activists, professionals and other individuals who committed and are still committing their time and resources to the struggle for the true emancipation of the people. The emphasis must be maintained that the present Democratic Rule in Nigeria was made possible by the consistent agitations and resolute demonstrations or protests of the people against the unfortunate annulment of the general elections of June 12. Thus, it is only reasonable that the role of the Nigerian people in consolidating democracy is not undermined. Government must not politicize and should not distort the very essence of June 12; Government must explore how to make and sustain June 12 as a memorable and historic day

Henry Ekine

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