June 12: Buhari making sure democracy rules in Nigeria, says South East leader
By Idowu Isamotu, Abuja
A former minister of Science and Technology and one of the leaders in South East region of the country, Ogbonnaya Onu on Thursday joined other well-meaning Nigerians to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for legalising June 12 as the country’s official Democracy Day in honour of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.
Onu spoke to journalists at his residence in Abuja when he received the Special envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shunsuke Takei, who equally attended the celebration with other foreign leaders at Equal Square in the Federal Capital Territory.
The ex-minister specifically noted that President Buhari is making every efforts to make sure democracy rules in Nigeria, adding that he’s always interested and ready to work on a very improved relationship between friendly nations like Japan and Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is very interested in making sure that democracy rules in Nigeria and he is very interested in working on a very improved relationship between friendly nations like Japan and Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s democracy has developed and matured over the years. In the past 20 years, we have had transfer of power from a military government to a civilian government. We have also had transfer of power from a civilian president to another civilian president in the same political party,” Onu stated.
Buhari had on Monday June 10, 2019 signed into law the Public Holiday (Amendment) Bill, making June 12 a public holiday in the country, noting that it has become the country’s official Democracy Day, replacing May 29, which hitherto was a public holiday.
The South East leader also faulted claims in some quarters that democracy is not yet working in Nigeria, arguing that, for the fact Nigeria has transferred power from one civilian government to another civilian government, it shows country’s democracy is matured.
According to him, “We have also had transfer of power from a civilian president from a political party to a civilian president in another political party that was used to be in opposition. We also had continuation of an elected president serving two terms in a party that less than six years ago was an opposition political party.
“This shows clearly that politics and governance in Nigeria is very stable and also that democracy has matured because, for one administration to transfer power from a different political party to another is a major maturity parties.
“Today, though Nigeria has so many political parties but we now have two very strong political parties. One party is controlling 19 states out of 36 states and the other one is controlling 16 out of 36 states. So we now have real competition in the political area and this is something that keeps us and makes us and the rest of the world know that democracy is now very stable and has matured in Nigeria.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s economy, the former minister urged Japanese government to continue its relationship with Nigeria, adding that prosperity of Nigeria is a direct prosperity for all African countries.
He said, “Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and we have the largest market in Africa and we also have the strongest economy in Africa. So, a happy and prosperous Nigeria is also a happy and prosperous Africa. We believe that Japan and Nigeria working closely together particularly in the economic areas that would be very helpful for the world, make the world very peaceful and more prosperous.”
Earlier, Mr Takei assured Japan’s Nigeria government and Nigerians of every support in the area of innovation, science and technology; stressing that Japan is very happy with the leadership style of President Buhari for appointing best brains like Ogbonnaya Onu as minister for one of the critical sectors in the country during his first tenure.
He, however, used the medium to also call for Nigerian government’s assistance for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) which will be taking place in August this year.
Mr Takei said that Nigeria can lead the discussion and bring high level participants from government and the private sector including President Buhari.
He added that TICAD is not only for Japan and Nigeria but the entire Africa to discuss economic and development agenda.