All Nigeria’s former Presidents including Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were absent at the Eagle Square, venue for the 2019 Democracy Day celebrations which climaxed a week-long of activities.
Former military rulers, General Yakubu Gowon and Ibrahim Babangida as well as Ernest Shonekan, former interim president, were also absent at the celebration. General Abdulsalami Abubakar stood as the only former Head of State/President to grace the Democracy Day event.
The former presidents and Heads of state were included in the program schedule distributed to all participants at the event, they were not sighted anywhere when the ceremony eventually kicked off with President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo in attendance.
Recall that Obasanjo had also kept away from Buhari’s second term inauguration which held at the same venue. The former president has been a strong critic of the Buhari administration over alleged poor leadership qualities.
Also, former president Jonathan, whom Buhari took over the reins of power from in 2015, has not been frequent in most of the social engagements involving the presidency. Both Jonathan and Buhari were reported to enjoy a cordial relationship prior to the 2015 transition.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar Wednesday said President Buhari’s government is unworthy of celebrating June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights,” Atiku said in his Democracy Day message.
Atiku, who was Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 till 2011, said, the Buhari government failed to deliver the change it promised Nigerians in his first term as president. The former vice president said Nigeria’s current standing as the global headquarters of extreme poverty does not portray the “HOPE 93” agenda of Abiola’s campaign during the 1993 annulled presidential election stood for.
He said Nigeria under Buhari, Nigeria has become a country where citizens are uncertain of the sanctity of their lives and availability of their next meal. Atiku stated that the June 12 declaration was just a work-free day, saying it is not a Democracy Day address when the press and citizens are denied freedom of speech.
The PDP presidential candidate, who lost to Buhari in the Feb 23, 2019 general election, said it was unacceptable that Buhari who failed to deliver on his promise of change to Nigerians will lay claims to being a part of the June 12 struggle. “Abiola didn’t mean to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon,” Atiku said.
He said June 12 is about the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy, create wealth and jobs and not about the inclination for shared pains. “So, for all true lovers of democracy, let us keep the HOPE alive,” Atiku said.