June 12 as Democracy Day
HISTORY is being made in Nigeria today with the celebration of June 12 as an official public holiday. The nationalist movements in Nigeria could be divided into two principal periods . While the first period resulted in the transformation of Nigeria into a sovereign nation by October 1960, the second period resulted in the entrenchment of sovereignty in the hands of the people of Nigeria on May 29, 1999.
1993 marked the year in which Nigerians decided to demand and procure their independence from the illegitimate rulership of the military foisted upon the nation through the instruments of coups and counter coups. June 12, 1993 was the actual date on which Nigerians thronged out to choose a leader of the people through the world- acclaimed freest and fairest election in the history of the country.
ON June 12, 1993, Nigerians voted without the bias of religion, wealth, or ethnic bigotry. Bashorun MKO Abiola won the election despite the fact that he was a Muslim from the South West, and had Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, another Muslim from the North, as a running mate. Other elections after June 12, till date are seen as a charade in comparison to the pure and credible election of that day contested by two parties with clear cut ideologies, programmes and manifestoes.
THE annulment of that election laid the foundation to the civil unrests, agitations, boycotts, deaths and incarcerations that birthed the May 29 swearing-in ceremonies. Without June 12, May 29 would never have been. It is therefore in this light that The Hope is in support of the recognition of JUNE 12 as the actual Democracy Day in Nigeria.
THE gallant resistance to the “daylight robbery” and annihilation of the election by the military junta of General Badamasi Babangida was neither on the platform of parties, ethnicity or personality.
THE Hope notes that previous administrations had discountenanced the significance of June 12 as the revolutionary day for democratic practice in Nigeria.
THE administration of President Goodluck Jonathan had downplayed the significance, although it gave recognition to the acclaimed winner, Bashorun MKO Abiola. However, the administration made a faux pas by seeking to name the University of Lagos after him, thus insinuating that Abiola was a South Western, not a national, hero. That was vehemently rejected.
THE Hope is elated that President Muhammadu Buhari did not only bestow the highest national honour of GCFR on MKO Abiola, and also on his running mate, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, he also proclaimed June 12 as the Democracy Day. The Senate has also approved same.
BY this gesture, this administration realize and affirms that the resilience of Nigerians and the martyrdom of Bashorun MKO Abiola on the aftermath of the June 12 election are the solid foundations of 20 years uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria.
NEVERTHELESS, the euphoria of the declaration of the day as a public holiday should not in any way suggest that democratic rule in Nigeria is at par with the vision of the martyrs and the aspirations of Nigerians.
THE Federal Government must ensure that the political class in Nigeria conforms to tenets of democracy. Equal rights, justice, rule of law, free-and-fair elections, responsive and responsible government must be entrenched in our democracy.
THE Hope therefore calls on government at all levels to ensure that governance is truly participatory and for the people. That was what Nigerians voted for on June 12, 1993.
THE Hope also enjoins the Federal Government to honour all the heroes of democracy. These are recognized men and women who took the bullets, wallowed in detention, went on exile and globalised the quest for the actualization of the June 12 mandate. They are the foot soldiers who took the whip for the democratic dispensation that is now in Nigeria. They should be honored dead or alive.
FINALLY, The Hope is expectant that the president’s speech would satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians, who had expected a speech on his new inauguration. This speech should not be a sweeping rhetoric or boring history. It is expected that the Democracy Day speech would not only give hope and direction to the nation and her nationals, but would also be implemented for the consolidation of democracy and sustain security and welfare of the citizens and inhabitants of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
WE wish all Nigerians Happy Democracy Day.