Retired General Ibrahim Babangida, a former military president, has tasked Nigerian leaders to explore the gains of the 12 June 1993 presidential election, toward deepening democracy in the country.
Mr Babangida spoke in Minna with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Nigeria’s democracy and the journey so far.
“The gains of June 12, 1993, presidential election have not been exploited by political leaders in succeeding elections in Nigeria.
“It was adjudged the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, yet politicians have blatantly ignored that beauty; the beauty of credible elections.
“Remember, it was an election Nigerians came out en mass to choose their leaders, irrespective of their cultural/traditional and religious affiliations,” he said.
The former president who spoke through his media aide, Kassim Afegbua, said that although Nigeria’s democracy had recorded some growth, there were still many grounds to be covered.
“There is thuggery in politics in Nigeria, too many litigations in Nigeria, too many issues that transparent elections ought to have addressed,” he said.
Mr Babangida decried increasing voter apathy in Nigeria’s election, attributing it to insincerity by the leaders resulting in a lack of trust by the electorate.
“June 12 should naturally encourage more voters to endorse democracy and election, but the turnout during our election is gradually declining.
“Right now there is voter apathy, that’s the more reason why something must be done to ensure mass participation in election,” he said.
He said that the country’s democracy had gotten more advanced with some achievements, urging Nigerian politicians to work toward making it better.
“Nigeria’s democracy is getting more and more older. Democracy has come to stay but despite the imperfections, we can still get our arts together to correct some of the issues and continue on that trajectory.
“It is a learning curve and a work in progress. Our leaders must continue to invest their time, energy and resources to deepen democracy and sustain democratic ideals,” he said.
NAN reports that the Supreme Military Council under the leadership of Mr Babangida annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the country.