As the 2023 elections approaches, President Muhammadu Buhari has advised political actors not to see the elections as a do-or-die affair but about the will of majority.
Buhari, in his nationwide broadcast to commemorate and celebrate the 2022 Democracy Day today, said on June 12, 1993, Nigerians saw the best their citizens as they went out to vote peacefully, regretting that by June 24, 1993, the country saw the worst of its leadership as the election was annulled.
He said June 12 marks another Democracy Day anniversary and an occasion to celebrate freedom and unity of the Nation.
“From 1999, we consistently celebrated Democracy Day to mark the end of military rule and the return of power and control into the hands of those freely elected by the people. On this day, Nigerians recommit themselves to ensuring we protect and preserve the ideals of democracy”, he said.
“In 2018, we moved Democracy Day from 29th of May to the 12th of June. This change was to remind all Nigerians of one free election after which the presumed winner along with Nigerians were denied their rights and their choice.
“On June 12th 1993, Nigerians saw the best in our citizens as we all went out to vote peacefully. By June 24th 1993, we also saw the worst of our leadership as the elections were annulled.
“We must never forget the sacrifices of the heroes of Nigeria’s democracy during 1993. Their patriotism and peaceful struggle should guide our actions especially when it comes to electing our leaders and holding them accountable, now and in future.”
Noting that the 2022 June 12 Democracy Celebration was his last Democracy Day speech as your President, he aaid, “By June 12th, 2023, exactly one year from today, you will already have a new President.
“I remain committed and determined to ensure that the new President is elected through a peaceful and transparent process.”
He said that June 12, 2023 will be exactly 30 years from the 1993 Presidential elections. In honour and memory of one of the national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola, advising”we must all work together to ensure this transition is done in a peaceful manner.”
He further noted: “I am hopeful that we can achieve this. The signs so far are positive. Recently, all registered political parties conducted primaries to select their candidates for the 2023 general elections.
“These primaries were peaceful and orderly. Those who won were magnanimous in their victories. Those who lost were gracious in defeat. And those aggrieved opted to seek judicial justice as opposed to jungle justice.
“I followed the party primaries closely from the state level to the Presidential level. I was very impressed to see across all the political parties that, most candidates ran issue based campaigns. The language and tone throughout were on the whole measured and controlled.
“Another positive that came from the 2022 party primaries was the significant increase in women and youth particularly across all parties. I was very pleased to see this development. This augurs well for the future. These trends clearly show the level of maturity our democracy has achieved in the last 23 years.
President Buhari also added “As we move into the general election campaign season, we must sustain this mature attitude to campaigning and ultimately, voting. We must never see it as a ‘do-or-die’ affair. We must all remember democracy is about the will of the majority. There must be winners and losers.
“ I will therefore take this opportunity on this very special day to ask all candidates to continue running issue focused campaigns and to treat opponents with dignity. As leaders, you must all showcase high character and never forget that the world is watching us and Africa looks up to Nigeria to provide example in governance. The tone you set at the top will surely be replicated in your followers”.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, has commended those who struggled to entrench democracy in the country and called on Nigerians to always remember June 12 as Democracy Day.
Tinubu described the 1993 election as the freest and fairest Nigeria had experienced and remains as one of the best elections the nation has seen, noting that it was clearly won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.