Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Musings On The Imperatives Of Freedom, Equity And Justice In A Democracy, By Rambi Ibrahim Ayala

June 12 of every year has been set aside in Nigeria to celebrate democracy and central to the tenets of democracy is the concept of liberty.

In the words of former President Goodluck

Jonathan, “when we mention June 12, we remember Chief MKO Abiola for his contributions to the consolidation of our democracy.”

One of the popular definitions of  Democracy is one postulated by Abraham Lincoln, which states that  “Democracy is a rule (government) of the people, for the people, and by the people”.

The choice of June 12 was birthed out of the idea of the struggles of pro-democracy activists following the annulment of an election acclaimed to be one of the most credible ever conducted in the history of Nigeria and which was supposedly won by the late MKO Abiola.

Expectedly the speech of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was replete with eulogies for those who stood out during the dark days of the military rule. Let me copiously reproduce here from his speech, “Let us honour 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 transited to the higher realm.

The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, and Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile.

While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military brass hats. Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun.”

Need I remind us that the President himself was a comrade in that struggle? Indeed he actively contributed to receding military rule to usher in the fresh air of democratic dispensation. He also mentioned the contribution of the media, where some journalists had to pay the supreme sacrifice, I believe he probably had the likes of the late James Bagauda Kaltho of The News/Tempo in mind who was killed in the line of duty. Yes, the Tangale Nation still fondly remembers him, and we still do, to this day.

I have listened to various speeches to mark the 25th Anniversary of our return to democracy, one that captivated my attention the most was the oratory account ably delivered by a time-tested human rights activist and Distinguished Senator Shehu Sani, it underscores the essence of this piece. By the way, Sen. Shehu Sani deservedly got a Presidential mention as one of the living heroes and legends of our democratic struggles.

Delivering his speech, Sen. Shehu Sani said, “The National Anthem Cannot unite the Nation, a National Pledge Cannot Unit a Nation, a Constitution Cannot Unit a Nation. A Nation is United by the ideals of freedom, a Nation is united by equity and Justice.”

This in my view is an irrevocable truth, it will only take those who are vacillating in self-delusion to think that you can force unity and peaceful co-existence on people in a prevailing atmosphere of real and perceived injustice.

Pope John Paul II, it was who said, “If you want peace, you must work for justice.” and Martin Luther King added, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of Justice.”

As we savour the successes so far achieved, leaders in every stratum of society should not forget that to keep the wheel of human relations lubricated requires respect for the freedom of choice, equitable distribution of scarce resources, and justice, that way society will develop exponentially.

Let me once again borrow from the words of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, “we can forge a Nigeria where every citizen has a voice, where opportunities abound, and where the promise of a better tomorrow is not just a dream but a tangible reality. We must not hand over to our children a democracy built on politics of region and religion. A democracy built on ethnicity does not endure; it will continue to wobble.”

In a democracy, the imperatives of freedom, equity, and justice are fundamental principles that guide the functioning of the system.

  1. Democracy guarantees individual freedoms such as freedom of speech, expression, religion, and assembly. People have the right to voice their opinions, participate in decision-making processes, and hold those in power accountable. This freedom ensures a vibrant exchange of ideas and opinions, essential for a healthy democracy.
  1. Equity in democracy means that all individuals should have equal opportunities and treatment under the law. It involves ensuring that everyone has access to basic needs such as education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Equity prevents discrimination and promotes inclusivity in the decision-making processes of the society.
  1. Justice is crucial in a democracy to ensure that people are treated fairly and impartially. It involves upholding the rule of law, protecting human rights, and ensuring that all individuals are subject to the same laws. Justice seeks to address inequalities and protect the rights of the marginalized communities within the society.

When these imperatives are upheld in a democracy, it leads to a more just, fair, and inclusive society where the rights and freedoms of all individuals are respected and protected.

May I join millions of lovers of a free society built on equity and justice to say Happy 25th Democratic Anniversary Nigeria as I struggle to learn the lyrics and melody of our new, or is it old National Anthem?


Rambi Ibrahim Ayala, Esq, Ph.D writes from Gombe, he can be reached via [email protected] and 09053828984

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