June 12: Again, Fashola, Pro Democracy Activists Warn On Dangers Of Impunity, Subversion Of Electoral Processes
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Wednesday joined distinguished Nigerians like former Military Governor, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Senator (Mrs) Oluremi Tinubu and NADECO chieftain, Chief Ayo Opadokun and Coalition of Democratic Formations to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections.
Delivering a Keynote Address at the event with the theme, “Electoral System, the Bane of Political Instability in Nigeria,” the Governor tasked Nigerians to take away from the anniversary the identification of a culture of impunity arising from a deficiency in law and order as the most important single threat to nation’s democratic aspirations.
The Governor who spoke at the Blue Roof Hall, LTV 8, Agidingbi before a gathering of pro-democracy activists, representatives of various groups and ethnic nationalities added that: “If we continue to accumulate rhetorics about law and order, impunity will entrench itself like a very malignant cancer”.
He emphasized that if Nigerians rise to attack impunity, and excise it like the cancer that it is, law and order will flourish and it will nourish the nation’s democracy adding that all he needs to do is to re-awaken the people’s memories if they have dimmed in any way about how the people got to where they are; and by so doing, reinforce the message that impunity is the scourge that everyone must fight.
“Most recently we are witnesses to grounded airplanes and re-called helicopters. No one doubts the existence of these powers for safety and the protection of lives and property. The question on everybody’s lips is what were the reasons for these actions? What is the regulatory regime in that sector? What is wrong and what is right?
“As if these were not bad enough, we are living witnesses to a bizarre arithmetic in a contest of numbers where 16 (sixteen) votes have become superior to 19 (nineteen) votes in a perplexing logic”.
“The message we have heard is this, it must either be our way or the no way. We don’t give a damn, whatever will be, will be. For everybody’s sake, these messages do us no good. The perception of them creates bigger challenges for our democracy”.
“We must stand up as a people devoid of ethnic coloration, political leaning and religious faith to banish these kinds of messages from our national consciousness whether they are imagined or real”, he emphasized.
The Governor noted that when Nigerians have done these, they will necessarily have to deal with problem of restoring integrity to the electoral process the way Kenya and Ghana have done if we truly mean to be leaders of Africa, adding that there are lessons that Nigerians can learn from those examples about well-meaning and developmental uses of technology to aid electoral process.
“I stress the word “well-meaning” and “developmental” as distinct from the experience of self-serving multiple registrations, double counting, voters’ de-population and other less salutary occurrences that we have experienced”.
“Let me remind you that it was the refusal to exercise a constitutional responsibility of appointing justices to the bench of the Supreme Court that frustrated the legal battle of MKO to regain his freedom. Our laws did not give the appointing authority the power to refuse to appoint justices”.
“Lately and recently, an institution of high learning created by an Act of Parliament which gave the institution its name was visited with an action that at best attempts to mock the memory of MKO. The name of the institution was changed to MKO’s name without changing the law. I venture to argue that MKO will have distanced himself from such an action if he was alive. His firm belief in the judicial process in the law suits he defended and instituted are clear evidence of his commitment to law and order”, he said.
In his address, the former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by Chief Ayo Opadokun said in Nigeria’s 14 years of democratic rule, which coincides with 20 years of June 12, the nation has made progress, albeit very slow
“When Abiola won the June 12, 1993 elections, we thought we had put electoral fraud behind us, 20 years after we are still grappling with it. The INEC has not witnessed any serious structural change but witnessed vast results of fraud that forced progressives to go to court”.
“The court exposed the fraud and gave back the people their mandate especially in the South West and Edo State. Elections in the 21st century are made to reflect the technology of today, our electoral system is behind such countries like Kenya and Sierra Leone where the use of biometrics has been implemented. It assures against rigging and exposes multiple voting”, the former Governor said.
The leader of the June 12 Coalitions of Democratic Formations, Baba Omojola in his message of goodwill called for the introduction of equitocracy which is a system of government that will allow all sections of the country to be relevant.
In a lecture titled, “Nigeria’s Democracy and the Crisis of Political Instability: An Audit of the Electoral System,’’ by Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun from the Nigeria Institute Advanced Legal Studies said heroes of the nation’s democracy must continue to educate people to exercise their right to vote, discourage anti-social elements, shun corruption and other parochial tendencies.
He noted that they must also demand transparency, encourage people to vote for values, talents and visionary leaders and never keep silent in the face of evil, adding that only then will the spirit of June 12 continue to abide by our electoral system.
The event which was chaired by former Military Governor of Lagos, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu also attracted dignitaries like members of the State Executive Council, members of the Federal House of Representatives like Hon. Yakub Balogun and Mrs Abike Dabiri Erewa, Deputy Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Alhaji Safiriyu Sunmola, National Publicity Secretary of the A.C.N, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Dr Olatunji Dare,Chief Fred Agbeyegbe and several other notables including pro democracy groups and formations.
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