Babangida urges Nigerians to use gains of June 12 election he controversially annulled to deepen democracy

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A former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday, urged Nigerian leaders to explore the gains of the June 12, 1993 presidential election to deepen democracy in the country.

Babangida, who made the call in a statement issued in Minna, Niger State, by his media aide, Kassim Afegbua, said there are still many grounds to be covered in the efforts to advance the country’s democracy despite the successes recorded in recent years.

The former president on June 24, 1993, controversially annulled the election regarded as the freest and fairest in the country with the late business mogul, MKO Abiola, leading his challenger, the late Bashir Othman Tofa, in the majority of the polls counted by the defunct National Electoral Commission headed by Prof. Humphrey Nwosu.

More than 100 people were killed by security agents in the nationwide protests that trailed the annulment of the election.

Babangida said: “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.

READ ALSO: Public officials in my time were saints considering the huge corruption in Nigeria today – Babangida

“In recent years, there is thuggery in politics in Nigeria, too many litigations and many issues that transparent elections ought to have addressed.”

He decried the increasing voter apathy in Nigeria’s election and blamed the problem on insincerity by the leaders.

“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 elections.

“Nigeria’s democracy is getting older. Democracy has come to stay but despite the imperfections, we can still get our act 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,” the former military ruler added.

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