President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has hailed the winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola for his sacrifice for the progress of the country.
In his maiden Democracy Day address to Nigerians on Monday, President Tinubu described Abiola as the symbol of democracy and the custodian of the sacred mandate that was so cruelly annulled by the late Gen Sani Abacha.
Tinubu said the late businessman sacrificed his life in the defense of the ideals of democracy and paid the ultimate price for democracy to be eternal in Nigeria.
He said: “For Chief MKO Abiola, the symbol of this day, in whose memory June 12 became a national holiday, democracy is eternal.
“It is about the rule of law and vibrant judiciary that can be trusted to deliver justice and strengthen institutions. It has become imperative to state here that the unnecessary illegal orders used to truncate or abridge democracy will no longer be tolerated.
“We can easily recall the sacrifice and martyrdom of Chief MKO Abiola, the custodian of the sacred mandate that was so cruelly annulled.
“He sacrificed his life in unyielding, patriotic defense of the ideals of democracy as symbolized in his choice, by his fellow countrymen and women, as their duly-elected President.
“There was an easier choice for him. It was to forgo the justice of his cause and opt for the path of ease and capitulation in the face of the tyranny of power. To his eternal credit and immortal glory, Abiola said no. He demonstrated the time-tested eternal truth that there are certain ideals and principles that are far more valuable than life itself.”
Speaking further, the President remembered other heroes of democracy such as Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, and Maj-Gen Shehu Yar’Adua who were silenced by the military junta saying “They gave their yesterday for the liberty that is ours today.”
Tinubu, therefore, called on Nigerians not to take the liberty they now enjoy for granted as it was obtained through great sacrifice that ushered in a civilian government in 1999.
He said: “The point is that we must never take this democracy for granted. We must forever jealously guard and protect it like a precious jewel.
“For, a people can never truly appreciate the freedoms and rights democracy guarantees them until they lose it.”
The President also pledged his administration’s commitment to diligently fulfill every component of its electoral pact with the people – the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda.
“We shall be faithful to the truth. Faithful to equity. And faithful to justice.
“We shall exercise our authority and mandate to govern with fairness, respect for the rule of law, and commitment to always uphold the dignity of all our people,” the President concluded.