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Democracy Day: Full Text of President Tinubu’s Speech

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President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday addressed Nigerians on Democracy Day for the second time since he assumed office on May 29, 2024.

In his speech, the President honoured heroes of democracy, rallied Nigerians to support his administration’s efforts to strengthen the economy and informed citizens that a bill for a new minimum wage will be sent to the National Assembly soon, among other things.

Read his full speech below:

TEXT OF PRESIDENT BOLA TINUBU’S NATIONAL BROADCAST ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF UNBROKEN DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA,

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DEMOCRACY DAY, 12TH JUNE, 2024
ABUJA

My fellow Nigerians, let me begin by congratulating all of us for witnessing the celebration of another Democracy Day today, the twelfth day of June 2024. This year also marks our nation’s 25 years of uninterrupted democratic governance.

On this day, 31 years ago, we entered our rites of passage to becoming a true and enduring democratic society.

Going through this passage was hard and dangerous. During the fateful six years that followed, we fought and struggled for our natural rights as human beings put on this earth by the divine hand of our Creator.

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We lost great heroes and heroines along the way. In this struggle, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, the most significant symbol of our democratic struggle, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Pa Alfred Rewane amongst other sacrificed their very lives.

They bravely surrendered their futures, so that our nation might have a better one.

Let us honour the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have transited to the higher realm.

The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile.

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While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military leadership. Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun.

The sacrifices they made, and the precious gift brought about by their selfless devotion can neither be repaid nor forgotten.

We could not have won the battle against dictatorship without the irrepressible Nigerian journalists who mounted the barricades along with the pro-democracy activists. We celebrate them today, along with their media establishments such as The Punch, Guardian, National Concord, Tribune, The News/Tempo, and TELL Magazines. The undemocratic government of the day proscribed these media establishments and jailed their journalists for standing for free speech and civil liberties and the sanctity of the June 12 elections.

Despite the lethal might of the authoritarian government, what appeared to be high and unyielding walls of dictatorship came tumbling down. The dismal fortress exists no longer.

The power of an idea, the power of the people proved more potent than all the guns, the munitions, and the threats of the strongmen.

The nation exited the yoke of dictatorship in 1999 to become the most populous democracy on African soil, the beacon of democratic self-determination for the black race and one of the largest democracies in the world.

This change stands as a pivotal moment in human history. From this change, we shall never turn, nor shall the annals of mankind’s progress forget the sublime meaning of this great moment.

Today, 25 years later. we celebrate the silver anniversary of our journey in democracy.

We have steadied the course. Democracy is neither a foreign nor abstract concept devoid of real-life meaning for us. Neither can we afford to reduce or minimalize it to being nothing but the mere holding of periodic elections where one candidate and party outdo another.

While elections attract dramatic attention, they are but one aspect of democracy. Democracy is a way of life that encompasses a broad outlook of which elections are but a part. As such, a nation can have elections without being democratic. But a nation cannot be truly democratic without holding elections.

That we have established a tradition of holding transparent, open, and fair elections gives credence to our democratic standing. That we have experienced peaceful transitions of government affirms our democratic temperament.

Fellow Nigerians, true democracy shines its light into the daily lives of the people who live under its nurturing wings. It affords us the freedom and liberty to think as we want, live where we want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits us.

Democracy does not assume some false or forced unity of opinion. In fact, democracy assumes that conflicting ideas and differing opinions shall be the order of the day. Given the diversity and variety of the human experience, there must be diverse perspectives and viewpoints.

What democracy demands is that we do not resolve differences through force and repression. But we make allowance for the legitimacy of views that differ from our own.

The other forms of government impose against the will of the people, democracy aims to make leaders who conduct themselves as servants of the common good, not as viceroys of the narrow interests of the mighty.

My dear compatriots, Nigeria faced a decision of untold gravity twenty-five years ago: Whether to veer toward a better destination or continue aimlessly in the fog of dictatorship.

We made the right choice then. We must continue with that choice now.

As Nigerians, we must remind ourselves that no matter how complicated democracy may be, it is the best form of governance in the long run. We must also be aware that there are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given.

This is the great battle of our day and the major reason we specially celebrate this day as Democracy Day.

The true meaning of this day is not to focus solely on the great deeds of the past that have brought us to this point.

Yes, we pay eternal honour to those who laid down their lives, sacrificing everything to pave the way for the nation.

I stand uniquely placed in this regard. I was among those who took the risk to midwife the birth of our democracy. I am now a direct and obvious beneficiary of the fruits of those historic efforts.

As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria.

Even more than that, I pledge to do what is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life.

Although the challenges are steep and multiple, I am grateful to lead Nigeria at this moment in her history and point in her democratic journey.

I come before you also to declare that our most important work remains before us. This real test has never been whether we would rise to challenge the slings of misfortune and grievous pain of dictatorship.

The real test is whether we shall lower our guards and fail to defend democracy as the shadow of despotism and its evident physical danger fade.

I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realization of our economic democracy.

I understand the economic difficulties we face as a nation.

Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundations and over-reliance on revenues from exploitation of oil.

The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. I feel your pains. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.

As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.

In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government of the past would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

Nobody was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themselves shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.

I take on this vital task without fear or favour and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed.

In the end, our national greatness will not be achieved by travelling the easy road. It can only be achieved by taking the right one.

The words of the American President Franklin Roosevelt certainly ring true:

“There are many ways of going forward. But only one way of standing still”!

We dare not slumber lest the good things awaiting our immediate future pass us by. We dare not plant our feet in idle standstill in the middle of the intersection of hope and despair.

We know the proper way forward and we shall take it!

The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow now appear on the horizon. An abundant future and our capacity to achieve that future lies within our reach. Democracy and the institutions it begets offer to take us to our profound destination.

Let us board this progressive train together. Together, let us move Nigeria forward.

Let’s continue to keep the fire of democracy burning. Let’s keep the torch lit for generations to come.

May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and preserve our democracy.

I wish us all Happy Democracy Day.

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ECOWAS Court Finds FG Guilty of Violating Rights of #EndSARS Protesters

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The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, has ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria violated the human rights of Obianuju Udeh and two others.

The court found Nigeria in breach of Articles 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, specifically on the right to life, security of person, freedom of expression, assembly and association, prohibition of torture, the duty of the state to investigate, and the right to effective remedy.

The applicants, Obianuju Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, alleged that these violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 and 21, 2020.

The presiding judge, Justice Koroma Sengu, who delivered the judgment, dismissed the allegation that the right to life as guaranteed under article 4 of the ACPHR is violated.

He, however, said that the Federal Government must pay each applicant N2 million as compensation for violations of their security of person, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, duty to investigate human rights violations, and right to effective remedy.

Additionally, he said the Federal Government must adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations, and report to the court within six months on the measures taken to implement this judgment.

The applicants alleged that during the peaceful protests against the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 and 21, 2020, the respondent committed several human rights violations.

Triggered by the alleged killing of Daniel Chibuike, the protests aimed to address police harassment and brutality.

The first applicant’s claims include that the soldiers shot protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed, subsequently receiving threatening phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.

The second applicant, responsible for protesters’ welfare, described how soldiers began shooting after a power cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.

The third applicant recounted narrowly escaping being shot, observing the refusal of ambulance entry by soldiers, and later witnessing inadequate hospital care for victims.

She argued that she and her colleagues took over the victims’ care and she faced ongoing threats and surveillance, believed to be by respondent’s agents.

The applicants sought declaratory relief and compensation from the court for these violations.

The respondent denied all claims made by the applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against SARS.

The respondent also maintained that its agents followed strict rules of engagement and did not shoot or kill protesters.

It argued that the first applicant incited the crowd by playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law enforcement, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and bandits.

The respondent contended that the second applicant’s logistics and welfare support provision indicated her support for the violent protest.

It claimed that soldiers were present to restore peace until the police arrived, denying any harm inflicted on protesters and the refusal of ambulance access.

The respondent also denied that the third applicant’s presence was peaceful, asserting it was meant to escalate violence.

It argued that the Lagos State Government managed the treatment and care of the injured and submits that the applicants have not provided credible evidence to support their claims, or the reliefs sought.

In its judgment, the court found there was no violation of the right to life.

However, the court held that the respondent breached several articles of the ACPHR which occasioned fundamental breaches of human rights violation therein.

Furthermore, the court declared that the applicants were denied the right to an effective remedy.

The court ordered that the respondent make reparations to the applicants for the violation of their fundamental human rights.

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We’re Already Preparing 2025 Budget, Pro-Wike Lawmakers Are Gone – Fubara

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The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, said his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget.

The governor also dismissed the threat by the Martin Amaewhule-led faction of the state House of Assembly that he should present the 2024 budget again, saying that having defected to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party platform on which they got election, their seats remained vacant.

Fubara said this when he received on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor described the recent ranting of the Amaewhule faction as noise-making from delusional folks.

He urged the “25 former lawmakers” to wake up from their slumber, adding that the ship of governance in the state was sailing smoothly.

The lawmakers loyal to the former governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had been having issues with Fubara over the political control of the state.

After an unsuccessful attempt to oust the governor, resulting in the demolition of the Assembly quarters, the lawmakers announced their defection to the APC, a move the state PDP latched on to declare their seats vacant.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, granted an interim injunction restraining the pro-Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators in the state.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on July 4, affirmed Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Holding a session at the state Legislative Quarters on Monday, the court-reinstated lawmakers asked Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget to the Assembly and gave him a one-week ultimatum.

The government, in a swift move, approached the court to restrain the state Chief Judge and others from recognising the Amaewhule-led Assembly, while it also appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

Foreclosing the idea of presenting the 2024 budget again, Fubara said his administration had commenced preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

“Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address.

“Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rent. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed. They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said,” he said.

He added, “They thought they were smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant as done on December 13, 2023. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“As I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Fubara said the three priority areas would ensure that even if more roads were constructed, emphasis would be placed on quality healthcare services for the people of the state.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standards. We need to go to good health facilities owned by the government and get standard healthcare services.

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they won’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

He reiterated that he was fighting nobody as insinuated, adding that being loyal did not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion and doing what was right.

“I want to assure you of one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably, because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my generation.

“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of the truth. Let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit,” he said.

Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision was clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

He promised to work with the Nigeria Police to resolve the issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area, including the issue of illegal dredging activities.

The Punch

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Yoruba Elders Council Rejects Agitation for Yoruba Nation

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has voiced its opposition to idea of carving out Yoruba Nation from Nigeria.

The group, through a statement on Sunday, said it would rather commit to true federalism in Nigeria.

The statement read: “We have perused the document on the position of YSDM on the state of the Nation and their views for the Yoruba race to be separated from Nigeria. The Yoruba Council of Elders remains firm in its position that the entity called and known as Nigeria should remain as one Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the YCE has pooled-in all shades of thoughts, which show that majority of the Yoruba race feel cheated by the present lop-sided arrangement of the federating powers but they are solidly against going away from the Nigerian arrangement. They would rather go back to the agreement of our founding fathers when the Region administration was autonomous.

“YCE, therefore, stands firmly on the position of the founding fathers, who maintained togetherness but operated independently and contributed their quota to foster administration at the centre. To this extent, we would rather have a restructured Nigeria which will allow states to function independently as part of a whole.

“YCE wants Nigeria to remain one but, like the American arrangement, stay and function administratively devoid of interference by the centre. Let it be known that the strength of the unity lies in the socio-cultural inheritance of each section of the country and these can be deployed through education and efficiency of management. Our great country must rise again and we all will be in it together,” it added.

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