The governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, Sunday, urged Nigerians to be on the alert against anti-democratic forces.He stated this in his Democracy Day message. According to him, “We must guard our democracy jealously.”
He recalled Nigerians’ efforts towards lasting democracy, and charged them not to allow anti-democratic forces to hijack their destinied.According to him, “By deliberate efforts and design, Nigerians opted for the presidential system of democracy because it is participatory and representative enough. It is a way of life that must be held sacrosanct.“Never again shall we allow undemocratic forces to take control of our collective destiny.”
The governor called for the strengthening of the nation’s democratic institutions ‘so that the practice of democracy should not be at the dictates or the whims and caprices of a few individuals who think they will lord it over the general public but the wishes of the people’.
He said the unabating security situation where armed Fulani terrorists are ‘seizing our sovereignty is already a threat to our hard earned democracy’, and regretted that insecurity had not been given priority attention by the the current APC-led federal government. Ortom added: “Democracy should be our way of life. It is freedom to exercise our franchise in an uninterrupted environment. “But insecurity has forced a majority of our people away from their ancestral lands and made their living conditions less than humans because they are now forced to live in shanties.
“This is why the federal government must wake up to their responsibilities and tackle the menace headlong.“We cannot be celebrating the democracy day when our citizens are now slaves and not free in their homes, schools, worship centres, workplaces and cannot go to their farms or even travel freely on our roads or by train.
We must tackle the issue of insecurity courageously if we are to practice democracy freely.” Governor Ortom said his administration had ‘in the last seven years provided dividends of democracy in education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and other critical sectors of development, in the face of daunting economic and security challenges’. In his words, “We appreciate the people of Benue State for the support given us and assure them that our administration will not waver. We will sustain the tempo in this remaining year.”
He paid tributes to the June 12, 1993 Democracy martyr, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, and prayed that what led to the ill-fated Third Republic would not occur again in Nigeria.