Democracy Day: Salute To The Unknown Nigerians | YEMI FAROUNBI

NIGERIA has celebrated another democracy day as a monument to M K O ABIOLA and tribute to celebrated names mentioned in the speech of President Bola Tinubu. A large number of these great Nigerians stepped on the sacrificial blood of MKO to become presidents, governors, senators, representatives, state Houses of Assembly members.

In some ways Nigeria has appreciated their sacrifices and rewarded for their struggle for return to civil rule. I am glad that the president remembered the selfless sacrifices of the media. Some of the media people have been duly rewarded with political positions. Quite a large number of them remain unknown and unsung because they were working for provincial or local newspapers.

Nobody remembers the 14 million voters who gave ABIOLA victory… without which there would have been no mandate. Nobody remembers those unknown political workers in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of that time, without whom the landslide victory would have been impossible.

Nobody has paid tribute to restless and great Nigerian students and the unknown labour activists without whom the struggle of the already celebrated eminent Nigerians would just have been bubbles.

Nobody remembers the huge role played by the foreign diplomats in the various foreign embassies in Nigeria. It was their efforts that marshalled foreign countries to turn Nigeria into a pariah state.

Unfortunately, nobody remembers the many Nigerians, unknown and unrecognised that died in the streets of Lagos, Ibadan and other cities under the bullets the military and security forces as they made Nigeria ungovernable for the military.

They fought for a cause they didn’t expect individual benefits or recognition. They fought not because they hoped they could be president, governors or honourable members of the parliament. They fought not because they expected any reward. They sometimes paid supreme sacrifices with their lives. They really are the heroes. We saw their bodies littering the streets…felled by bullets from Nigerian military and security forces… some of whom had become beneficiaries of the selfless struggles of these unknown Nigerians.

President Tinubu rightly quoted American President F.D.Roosevelt who said democracy is the only way. But in 1941, that same President Roosevelt said that democracy must deliver FOUR FREEDOMS. First is freedom of speech and expressions. Second is freedom of worship. Third is freedom from want….at least for the 132 multi-dimensionally poor Nigerians for whom hunger and poverty have become common currency. Fourth is freedom from fear… arising from insecurity caused by bandits, terrorists, kidnappers etc.

Let us make the accomplishment of these four freedoms the monument for saluting the unknown, unsung, unrecognised Nigerians… who really are the true heroes of the struggle. Let our political leaders and rulers make the granting of Nigerians the FREEDOM FROM WANT AND THE FREEDOM FROM FEAR…. the true monuments for these unknown selfless Nigerians.

•Dr Farounbi OON is Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Philippines.

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