May 29, 2015, shall be recorded in our history as the moment when democracy finally was allowed to participate in Democracy Day. The reason for this is the legion of average Nigerians who voted to make this happen. Should any of you wish to see a true hero of democracy, don’t fret. Just look in the nearest mirror.
The celebrations prior to this were false showings; they were the commemoration of wrong. The path we have taken to come to this august moment has not been one of easy victory or swift progress.
Instead, it has been a path hewed by the triumph of resilience over broken promises and fraudulent avowals of representative governance. Reaching this fine moment has been a story told in the cadence of the victory of common good over arrogant power.
The voice of the solitary poor man, no one hears. But the votes of the poor became a potent army capable of toppling the very citadel of high privilege in order to bring forth national awakening no less historic and important than the very birth of this nation.
On this day, we shall witness the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari, a great, honorable and dedicated public servant as our president. This is indeed an inspiring moment, a turning point in our national direction, and the reclamation of our best destiny.
We shall celebrate this achievement but not in mindless, care-free fashion. The road ahead is still choked with the debris of problems left too long unattended.
We are well aware of the challenges pitted against our wellbeing. Insecurity, economic decline and corruption, we must fight and fight as if we are going to war not a carnival.
Most of all, we must fight the temptation of hopelessness, the sense that little good will come out of even the greatest efforts.
This is where I want to thank and commend all those who voted in the past election.
It is you who turned this day into the true celebration of true democracy it was intended to be.
With no guarantee save your faith and armed solely with the hope and promise of a better tomorrow through better governance, you fought the mounting tide of power and money. That tide tried to induce you to sell your democratic rights and your chance for a greater future on the cheap.
In the eyes of those who were self-exalted, you had been debased and brought low by visible circumstance of poverty and lack. You seemed to them ripe for purchase. Yet, inside, you retained a greatness of character and a loyalty to the democratic ideal incomprehensible to those who believed that everything can be purchased.
You showed them that your self-definition as human beings and as Nigerians was not for sale or tender. As a result, he who had been given so much, so easily by so many was humbled. You who have been ridiculed, reduced and written off were lifted up. The will of the people hath reclaimed its sovereignty.
This has been a blossoming of justice and the illumination of the power of human decency. So often, Nigeria has been portrayed negatively before the world. Not this time.
The world is proud of what you have done and how you have advanced the cause of fairness and right.
What you have done has lent solace to those still struggling to establish democracy and responsive governance in their homelands.
They now see Nigeria as an inspiring example. They seek to be like you, to travel the road you just trod.
Today, the old Nigeria is no longer in chains as we move into a new era and take hold of our new selves. From President Buhari to the state governors inaugurated this day, I wish them well and pray they govern in an open, democratic way that assures your optimal wellbeing.
I ask that you, the people, maintain your diligence and help guide those you have just elected.
The issues that confront us are deep and complex. They are not susceptible to facile solution or inattention. Wise and sound policy is within our capacity. But, we must have the will to accomplish it. If both the governed and government work in league, there is nothing our beloved nation cannot overcome.
Let it be said that on this day, the nation consecrate itself to the ideal that governance is the sacred instrument of the people and never again shall it be the exclusive recreation of a select few. No longer shall Democracy day be a shallow ritual. Henceforth, it is a living truth.