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I’ll Always Listen and Never Turn My Back on You, Tinubu Tells Nigerians on Democracy Day

President Tinubu, on Democracy Day, assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to reform the economy while prioritising Nigerians’ interests.

In a solemn moment of national reassurance, President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, told Nigerians that while he continued to reform the economy, he would always listen to them and would never turn his back on the people.

In a national broadcast to mark this year’s Democracy Day and the 25th year of uninterrupted democratic rule in the country, Tinubu recalled how he and other like-minds risked their lives for democracy to birth.

He said despite complications, democracy remained the best form of government.

Assuring that the issue of new minimum wage for Nigerian workers would be resolved soon, the president disclosed that his government was already preparing an executive bill on the matter to be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage.

He declared that his administration had negotiated in good faith and open arms with organised labour on a new national minimum wage.

Tinubu seized the opportunity to pay tribute to heroes and heroines of the June 12 struggle, specifically Chief MKO Abiola, and his wife, Kudirat, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Pa Alfred Rewane, among others.

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

Tinubu stressed that he was one of those who midwifed the Fourth Republic, saying he ended up being a direct beneficiary as President of Nigeria.

“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,” he said.

Tinubu stated, “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.

“These people do this not to make things better but to subject all other people and things to their control and dominance until the point that, if you are not counted among their elite, then your life will be small and no longer owned by you.”

Addressing the wage matter, he said, “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 would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.”

He assured the people that he would always put the interest of the citizens first in whatever steps are being taken to turn around the economy.

Tinubu also paid glowing tributes to heroes and heroines of June 12 struggle as well as those who died in the course of the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential poll.

He said, “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, among others, 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. 

“While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military brass hats. 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 never be repaid. Neither shall it be forgotten.”

The president also celebrated the media for being partners in the pro-democracy struggle against the military junta in the wake of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll.

He said, “We could not have won the battle against military 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.

“Military authorities proscribed these media establishments and jailed their journalists for standing for free speech and civil liberties.”

Concluding his speech, Tinubu said, “The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow now appear on the early horizon. An abundant future and our capacity to achieve that future lie 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.”

 Deji Elumoye

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