As Nigeria celebrates Democracy Day, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday said that there is an urgent need for electoral reforms that will address the lapses in elections conducted in the country.
Abubakar in a statement titled “My Message To Nigerians On The Occasion Of The 21st Anniversary Of Democracy Day”, which was released via his Twitter account, said that the electoral process needed to be improved to ensure that votes are not only counted but that they do count.
He also urged Nigerian leaders to canonize the memories of the heroes of democracy by extending the application of democracy to good governance.
The statement reads” The celebration of Democracy Day is a confirmation of our collective struggles towards a system of participatory government and acceptance of the primacy of the rule of law.
“Along the line in the struggle which has continued for decades, many compatriots paid the ultimate price.
”Today may be a day dedicated to democracy, it is also a remembrance day for our fallen heroes of democratic rule.
“Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and a lot more who paid a price by losing their lives so that we can have a democracy.
“Yet there are so many other heroes who remain unsung and these are Nigerians who have fallen victims of bad governance.
“While we may have a day dedicated to celebrating democracy, it remains saddening that we have not delivered good governance to our people to be happy over.
“Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels.
“Many, if not all of them have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country.
”But the results of their efforts, based on what we have right now clearly shows that our best has not been good enough thus far.
“It is also clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues and this has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation.
“To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment, a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.
“This has to be done for democracy to pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is non-productive to the notion of participatory democracy.
“As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by extending the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance.
”For this to be achieved we have to ensure that ballots cast during an election are respected in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge.
“However, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that votes are not only counted but that they do count, there is an urgent need to facilitate the needed electoral reforms that will put an end to the lapses in elections conducted in the country.
”On the occasion of Democracy Day, being marked regardless of the backdrop of the uncertainties of this season, may the sacrifices of our heroes who gave their lives in the struggle to improve the democratic rule that we are enjoying today never be in vain.”