Fellow Nigerians,

Today, we gather to celebrate Democracy Day, marking 25 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our nation. This day, June 12, also commemorates our journey towards becoming a true democratic society, a journey that began 31 years ago and was fraught with challenges and sacrifices.

Reflecting on Our Struggle

The path to democracy was perilous and demanded immense sacrifice. We remember the six years following the June 12, 1993, presidential election, a period marked by fierce struggle for our rights. Many heroes, including Chief MKO Abiola, his wife Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Pa Alfred Rewane, gave their lives for the cause. Their bravery and ultimate sacrifice paved the way for our nation’s future.

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We must also honor the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have passed on.

Acknowledging the Living Heroes

The contributions of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, and many others who endured life in exile, must also be remembered. Alongside them, activists at home like Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and leaders of the National Democratic Coalition, played critical roles in sustaining the pressure on the military regime.

Journalists and their media establishments—The Punch, Guardian, National Concord, Tribune, The News/Tempo, and TELL Magazines—stood firm against the military government, championing free speech and civil liberties.

Celebrating Our Democratic Journey

Since emerging from military rule in 1999, Nigeria has become the most populous democracy in Africa and one of the largest in the world. Our tradition of holding transparent, open, and fair elections and experiencing peaceful transitions of government stands testament to our democratic resilience.

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True democracy impacts daily life, granting us the freedom to think, live, and pursue our ambitions. It embraces diversity and differing opinions, resolving conflicts through dialogue rather than force. Leaders in a democracy must serve the common good, not the interests of a select few.

Facing Contemporary Challenges

Twenty-five years ago, Nigeria faced a critical choice—veer toward democracy or continue under dictatorship. We chose democracy, and we must uphold that choice. Despite its complexities, democracy remains the best form of governance.

Today, we face significant economic challenges. Our economy, heavily reliant on oil revenues, requires reform. The economic reforms we have initiated, though difficult, aim to create a stronger foundation for future growth, ensuring everyone has access to economic opportunities.

Commitment to Democratic Values

As president, I am committed to protecting your rights and freedoms and cementing democracy as our way of life. We have negotiated in good faith with organized labor on a new national minimum wage and will soon enshrine this agreement into law.

We chose dialogue over conflict in response to labor’s call for a national strike, demonstrating our commitment to democratic principles. Reasoned discussion and principled compromise will continue to guide our policies.

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Building a Brighter Future

Our path forward is challenging, but together, we can achieve national greatness. As we celebrate our political democracy, let us also commit to achieving economic democracy. The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow are on the horizon. Democracy and its institutions offer a path to a prosperous future.

Let us move Nigeria forward together, keeping the fire of democracy burning for generations to come. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and preserve our democracy.

Happy Democracy Day to us all.

President Bola Tinubu