Nigerians have been urged not to lose hope in the face of daunting economic and socio-political challenges but to remain steadfast for democracy to flourish.
The immediate past President of the Senate, David Mark, made the call in a goodwill message to Nigerians on the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day today, Sunday, May 29.
The 2016 Democracy Day coincides with the first anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, government.
Mr. Mark noted that it was by deliberate choice and design that the nation chose presidential democracy as the best form of government because it is representative and participatory.
He also noted that this year’s Democracy Day was unique “because it is the first time in the last 17 years of uninterrupted civilian administration that an opposition political party is in charge”.
In spite of some criticisms, the former President of the Senate said the foundation the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration put in place for 16 years, guaranteed the atmosphere that enabled an opposition party to win the presidential election for the first time.
Mr. Mark stated: “The PDP provided the enabling environment for democracy to thrive. It never hindered or prevented opposition parties from operating. Everyone had access and the political space was free for all.
“For 16 uninterrupted years, the PDP discharged firmly and competently the popular mandate of governance of Nigeria through four unprecedented political transitions which included the first ever transition of power from a ruling political party to opposition party in our country.
“By this, the PDP ensured that after a largely fruitless search since independence, democracy as a form of government has come to stay as the norm.
“Today, whether the same scenario is available in our country is up to the citizenry to judge. Whether life is better now or then is however debatable.
“All the same, this is our country. Whichever side of the divide one finds him or herself, we must strive to play such roles honestly and patriotically in order to make our country a better place”, he said.
Mr. Mark, therefore, urged governments at all levels to initiate policies and programmes that are in consonance with the wishes and aspirations of the people, saying that any programme or policy that tends to bring misery on the citizenry cannot be adjudged a good package.