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Six Key Takeaways from Tinubu’s (May 12) Democracy Day Speech 2024


1. Economic Reforms for Long-Term Growth

“The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.”

Our view: Diversifying the economy away from oil dependence through promoting sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, technology and services is crucial. Investor-friendly policies, incentives, infrastructure development, fiscal discipline and transparency will support sustainable economic growth.

2. Negotiated Minimum Wage Increase

“In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.”

Our viiew: Timely implementation across all states and sectors is important. However, the government should provide support to businesses, especially SMEs, to help absorb the wage increase without disruptions. Policies reducing cost of living would complement the minimum wage hike.

3. Democracy Goes Beyond Elections

“Democracy is a way of life that encompasses a broad outlook of which elections are but a part. […] It affords us the freedom and liberty to think as we want, live where we want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits us.”

Our view: Strengthening democratic institutions like an independent judiciary, legislature and free press is key to upholding checks and balances. Protecting civil liberties, minority rights and encouraging civic participation will deepen democracy.

4. Honoring Pro-Democracy Sacrifices

“Let us honour the memories of Chief MKO Abiola, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Pa Alfred Rewane, among others sacrificed their very lives. […] The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten.”

Our view: Establishing memorials and museums to preserve history, supporting christian martyrs’ families, and promoting civic education, especially among youth, will ensure the spirit of democracy lives on.

5. Vigilance Against Anti-Democratic Forces

“We must also be aware that there are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given.”

Our view: Strengthening law enforcement, promoting national unity and ensuring good governance will reduce threats. A robust economy and inclusive policies can address root causes exploited by anti-democratic forces.

6. Push for Economic Democracy

“I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realisation of our economic democracy.”

Our view: Realizing “economic democracy” requires policies promoting:

  • Inclusive growth
  • Job creation
  • Equal opportunities
  • Investing in education, skills development, entrepreneurship
  • Fair resource distribution
  • Social safety nets