The Nigeria Labour Congress has appealed to the Federal Government to identify fully with the ideals and lessons of June 12 by removing all obstacles to free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, made the appeal in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja on the 25th anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
News Agency of Nigeria recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari has already declared June 12 as the nation’s democracy day to replace May 29.
Wabba said that beyond declaring June 12 as a national public holiday, the government should do everything possible to institutionalise the lessons learnt from the June 12 experience.
According to him, one of the lesson of June 12 is our capacity as a people to organise free, fair and credible elections.
Wabba said: “The defunct National Electoral Commission headed by Professor Humphrey Nwosu designed a very unique system of electioneering known as Option A4.
“This dealt a mortal jab at numerous infractions in our electoral process.
“Nigerian workers expect that with the introduction of technology in our electoral process, elections in Nigeria should be freer, fairer and more credible than the June 12 outcome.
“Unfortunately, this is not so as politicians have shown from their conduct in recent elections that violence, vote buying, fraud and abuse of the power of incumbency.
“And not the will of the electorate, are the most critical success factors in electoral contests. There is more to June 12 than the symbolic commemorations.
“We urge the Federal Government to identify fully with the ideals and lessons of June 12 by removing all obstacles to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.”
He, however, said this could be best achieved by evolving the needed political will for the deepening of popular democracy and fully implementing the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Report.
Wabba said this was especially in the aspects that recommended the setting up of Election Offences Commission, representative cum non-partisan recruitment of INEC leadership and INEC unbundling for increased professionalism.
He also called on the government to also enforce relevant provisions in the Electoral Act that place a ceiling on political campaign financing and criminalise violence, vote buying and sundry fraudulent acts.
He said the NLC has also consolidated these efforts by championing national campaigns for electoral reforms.
He added that the most prominent milestone of our modest strive are fruits from Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee, which NLC was part of.
He said: “We are also making efforts to reposition the Labour Party. As we said at the 2018 May Day celebration, Nigerian workers will continue to dare and win.”
He said also noted the President conferment of the highest honour in the land to the arrowhead of the June 12 struggle, Chief MKO Abiola was timely.
He added that this confirms June 12 as a muster point of our democratic aspirations as one people united by the quest for wellbeing, dignity and prosperity.
He said: “We salute the working class, civil society activists, the trade unions, women and student groups for their roles and sacrifice in defending the sanctity of June 12 and enthroning our current democracy.
“Nigerian workers celebrate not just the day – June 12 – but the ideals and the progressive credentials of the icons behind the day.
“The mast of Chief MKO Abiola’s campaign was “Hope 93”. The core of his campaign message was the promise to eradicate poverty.
“Not a few political commentators believe that Chief Abiola’s towering image as a foremost international philanthropist and humanist rubbed a lot of credence on his promise of hope.
“The results of June 12, 1993 elections showed clearly that Chief MKO Abiola’s personality and promise of poverty eradication united millions of Nigerians.
“Who defied religious and ethnic boundaries to elect him as the President of the aborted Third Republic.’’
He noted that out of the then 30 states, Chief Abiola won 19 states. A significant feat of great political value was that Chief Abiola won at least a state in all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
He also said that Labour’s struggle against neo-liberal tendencies of successive governments, no other struggle has resonated with Nigerians as the June 12 struggle.
Wabba said: “For this reason, at an occasion like this, we must all be sobered and tempered by the ideals and lessons of June 12.
“The first lesson of June 12, is the capacity of our people to rise above ethnic and religious sentiments to recruit political leadership solely on the basis of antecedence, performance and ability to deliver desired developmental goals.
“This credits our ability as a people to build a modern nation state.”