By Emmanuel Oloniruha
He said that there was need to remind Nigerians that the democracy which the country enjoyed today did not come at a cheap price.
“It came at the cost of supreme price paid by persons that included Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Maj-Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, Chief Alfred Rewane and Bagauda Kaltho, among thousands of other patriots.
“Democracy isn’t merely a mechanism of appointing a government; its beauty is in the inherent safeguard to the citizenry to live and prosper as free people under the law.”
Abubakar warned against what he called “a consistent pattern of departure from constitutional due process’’ to tendencies of authoritarianism.
He said that there was a growing culture of arbitrariness in some of the institutions of government at all levels, contradictory to the notion of inclusiveness and fairness that a democratic society guaranteed.
The former vice president stated that foundation of a democratic society was the guarantee of fundamental human rights that gave the citizenry freedom of speech and freedom of movement.
He said that it was the exclusive responsibility of the state through the various security organizations to see to the protection of the fundamental rights of the people.
Abubakar added that it would, however, become an anathema in a democracy if institutions of government began to act in negation of the noble objectives.
Recalling the recent campaign by youths across the country against the brutality of the anti-robbery unit of the Police, he noted that up till now there had yet to be a fundamental reform in the operations of that unit.
“Today, across our major cities and even in the hinterlands, citizens – especially the youth – can hardly walk freely in open avenues without the police stopping them to search through the content of their mobile handsets.
“Civil servants now lose their jobs just because they choose to criticize politicians in government positions.
“There are even suggestions in some quarters that civil servants should be barred from signing to social media networks.
“Opposition politicians are regularly being hounded on wanton criminal and civil prosecutions.
“All of these narratives have become a consistent pattern of behaviour that is antithetical to an open and democratic society.”
Abubakar also decried what he described as “reign of fascism’’ with governors who had suddenly become overlords, dealing ruthlessly with anyone who dared to challenge their foothold of intimidation and oppression at the states.