A Civil Society Organization, Campaign for Democracy, has condemned the absence of the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and his Deputy, Ahmed Muhammad Ketso, from the state as the country celebrated the June 12 Democracy Day.
The CD said: “It is unacceptable, and a mere speech from a Ministry as the only thing to mark the day is a shame.”
As world leaders joined Nigeria to mark the June 12, Democracy Day, only a press statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alhaji Isah Bala Ibrahim, was issued to newsmen in Niger State.
It was reliably gathered that workers and students were indoors due to the public holiday, while business owners were seen in their various points of businesses.
The state capital was quiet with little or nothing to suggest that the country is marking one of the important dates in its history.
The CD through its Secretary General, Comrade Abdullahi Jabi, on Wednesday in Minna said: “The people would have loved to hear a word from him on this maiden celebration that is marked across the country.
“It is ridiculous, the Governor is supposed to be in the state to give the people the feeling of Democracy Day. They are not supposed to leave at the same time as their absence is undemocratic and a violation of the people’s Democratic rights.
“A day where great Nigerians like Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, Anthony Enahoro, Simbiat Abiola and many others laid their lives for the struggle of democracy in this country and no sign to celebrate is unacceptable because this is supposed to be a symbolic day.
“You can see that President Muhammadu Buhari and other Governors marked Democracy day with pomp and pageantry.
“There was no celebration of any sort in Niger State.
“What a shame!”
Aside Government offices and public institutions that were closed in compliance with the public holiday as declared by the Federal Government to mark the day, there was nothing on ground to show that the state is also part of the celebration as Bello and his Deputy were said to be out of the state as no activity was lined up to commemorate the day in the state.
It should be noted that the Governor is yet to constitute his executive council and as such political activities are yet to pick up in the state.
A cross section of residents who spoke to our Correspondent expressed displeasure over the governor’s absence on an important date such as June 12.
A resident and a legal practitioner, Mohammed Isah, described Bello’s absence as bad omen and undemocratic, saying: “The Jet Happy Governor should have sacrificed just today to mark the maiden June 12 Democracy Day before embarking on his usual trip out of the state.
“To me, no date can be said to be more important than our democratic journey like today.
“Therefore, one should have expected Mr. Governor to stay and mark the day as other governors did.”
The statement from the Ministry of Information and Strategy reads in part that: “Democracy as a system of government has restored the fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by the people and brought development closer to them.”
The statement noted that sustained democratic governance have brought comparative improvements in various sectors of the economy, adding that the present administration is not resting on its oars in ensuring it meets the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens.
The statement further commended President Muhammadu Buhari for changing the date of the Democracy Day to June 12 in the interest of peace and national reconciliation.