My good people of Osun,

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the historic presidential election of June 12, 1993, won by Bashorun Moshood Abiola. Though the election was cruelly disallowed and the winner arrested and put in unjust incarceration (for daring to affirm his victory), where he later died in what has remained mysterious circumstances, we have kept faith since, in celebrating that date as Democracy Day. We will never drop our commitment to June 12.

June 12 is most symbolic of democracy in that it was the date Nigerians freely expressed their choice on whom to be their leader; it was also the date of unequivocal affirmation of the unity of the country by Nigerians across all divides. Nigerians, in their heterogeneity, on June 12, 1993, voted for Chief Abiola in a pattern that defied ethnicity, religion, ideology and locality. It was a pattern that made mockery of the fabled fault-lines and fissiparous tendencies of the Nigerian federation and projected a nation united behind a popular leader.

May 29, in 1999, was the date the military handed over power to civilian administration and will remain symbolic for the transition to civil rule and the opportunity it presents for realising a truly democratic government that approximates the yearnings and aspirations of the people for a leader that will lead them to the Promised Land of security and life more abundant.

We waited for 16 years for that leadership to emerge and we thank God for the election and coming to power of President Muhammadu Buhari. A government with a human face is here at last. He represents the aspirations and symbolism of June 12 in that he also got a pan-Nigerian mandate that once again defied the divisions in our country. He represents hope for change and national rebirth. He is on that path. God willing, he will lead us to the Promised Land.

May 29, however, is a child of June 12 being that it was the unrelenting pursuit of the actualisation of June 12 with the sweat and blood of our patriots that led to military disengagement and civilian rule on May 29.

We salute and commend the courage of our patriots, living and dead, who sacrificed everything, including their lives, in the cause of June 12 and birth of democracy in our land. You are our heroes and heroines. You will never be forgotten, but will live in our hearts forever. Your wish has been largely fulfilled, though we acknowledge that democracy anywhere is an unfinished business. We must keep nurturing it with the nutrients of peace, love and hard work and protect it with mutual respect, tolerance and unbounded patriotism.

There are many forms of government and we have tried many of them, but we have learnt from experience that democracy,with all its imperfections, is still the best. It affords the people the opportunity to choose their leader and participate in the process of governance. It permits them to correct mistakes and throw out bad leadership at the next election cycle. It allows them to weigh options make the best choice, even if they are not always right. More importantly, it puts people at the heart of government. That is why one of its most popular definition is ‘Government of the people by the people for the people’.

Since our inauguration, we have put you, our people, at the heart of government and worked to make democracymeaningful and impactful. Every policy we have made, every decision we have taken is to further the peoples’ interest and lift them from the morass of hopelessness, helplessness, dejection, poverty and ignorance into the cape of peace, security, prosperity and abundant life.

We have revived education with new schools, free meals, free school uniforms, improved infrastructure, motivation for teachers and so on. We have enhanced transportation and beauty of our landscape with the construction of over 1,000 kilometres of roads across the state. We have vigorously pursued urban renewal and sent flooding packing from our state. We have rehabilitated hospitals and improved healthcare delivery for all the people. We have encouraged agriculture, made food to be abundantly available and made farmers to be prosperous. We have created tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly through O’YES, O’REAP, O’MEALS, OPON IMO, O’AMBULANCE, O’SCHOOL, AGBA OSUN, O’BOPS, O’FOPS and other ‘Os’.

We have also deepened democracy by allowing the opposition a robust room to operate and not retaliating all the wrongs we suffered when we were in opposition. Our accommodating spirit and genuine outreach to all have won the leading lights of the opposition to our side and made democratic participation in Osun to be more inclusive. We have enhanced the rights of all to freely worship as he or she deems fit. We have done all these because we value the people.

We salute and recognise workers as invaluable and indispensable allies in the service of the people and delivering the dividends of democracy. They have sacrificed and given their best. They have shown understanding of the situation we are, even as we try to mitigate the consequences of the shortfall in revenue occasioned by a drop in the price of crude oil. I want to assure them that good times are here and we shall all enjoy the fruits of our labour.

As we celebrate June 12 as Democracy Day, let us remember the struggles and sacrifices of our heroes and heroines by continuing to be good citizens, by working hard and paying our taxes. It is for this reason that we have declared tomorrow as public holiday, in commemoration of this watershed date and to honour the memory, of Chief Abiola, his wife, Kudirat Abiola, who was cowardly murdered by agents of the evil regime and other Nigerians who suffered for standing for what they believe to be right.

I wish us all a Happy Democracy Day

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