The Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of using security agencies to harass and illegally detain opposition members.
Atiku in a statement issued on Monday, described as “deeply troubling,” the suppression of voices and trumped-up allegations against opposition figures.
He noted, “a vibrant democracy thrives not when dissent is silenced but when it is listened to, even if it makes those in authority uncomfortable.”
The PDP candidate said he has observed that affording opposing forces the political space to thrive is not a flaw, “but a strength that enriches democracy in that our best ideas are then tested and subjected to various viewpoints, leading to refinement and superb execution.”
He stated that the suppression included “many individuals across the internet who speak up only to seek a better country.”
Atiku added that as a foremost political leader, he understands “the frustration of a younger generation with a country of so much promise, so little delivery and a gloomy outlook for the future.”
He, however, said he has been calling for restraint and leading by example by not unnecessarily heating up the polity. He noted that he would also speak out where he observed that opposition freedoms were under threat.
“The principles of democracy are principles that we have lived by and have seen some of our closest associates die for.
“The praises of the administration in which I served as number two man and chaired several committees and initiatives are well in order, and one of our strengths in power was always the ability to listen to divergent opinions – to disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.
The former vice president reminded the ruling party that the bedrock of any democratic society is its ability to protect and respect contrary viewpoints.
He said, “Such viewpoints ensure that governance remains transparent and that power is not concentrated in the hands of a few.
“Arresting or silencing members of the opposition based on contrived charges is not only an affront to the principles of democracy but also a grave injustice to the people who rely on the system for representation and justice.
“The government must avoid the temptation of conceding to the agenda of anti-democratic forces.”
He added that “the essence of democracy is not about comfort for those in power but about ensuring justice, liberty, and equality for all.”
Atiku called for respect of the principles of democracy and to ensure that every voice, no matter how contrary, is allowed its rightful place in the discourse.
He assured that he would continue to seek justice beyond judgment at “the Supreme Court, and I carry this responsibility with the knowledge that this path also carries the hopes of millions of Nigerians who by their votes sought a change in the political direction of our country.
“This responsibility is one I am prepared to lead for as long as I am here and in health, conscious that many of those whom we started together may no longer be with us but their memories remain evergreen.
“Democracy is a collective responsibility, and I urge Nigerians never to lose their voice or let themselves be cowed into silence.”