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June 12 would have ushered Nigeria to greatness

– Afenifere, Abayomi, Ajulo, others

By Jubril Bada & Victor Akinkuolie

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Pro-democracy activists have described June 12 as a symbol of a better Nigeria and a watershed in the history of the nation’s democratic journey.

Speaking with The Hope on 31 years after the historical annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential poll won by the late business mogul, M.K.O Abiola and the subsequent struggle for its actualisation, the activists said the struggle represented liberty and a fight for a united and prosperous Nigeria.

Those who spoke in separate interviews included a Constitutional Lawyer and Rights Activist, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Ondo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Ondo State Chairman of the Socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Korede Duyile, an Ado-Ekiti based political Analyst, Elder Ayo Arogundade, and the Secretary, Ekiti Council of Elders, Elder Sunday Ajibulu.

In unison, they said the significance of the June 12 is so clear, saying that was the day that Nigerians came together to vote for a candidate of their choice.

They noted that apart from various notable individuals both living and the dead, the real heroes of democracy are the people.

Dr. Abayomi who said June 12 represented the search for greatness of Nigeria, however, expressed sadness that corruption still prevails in the country which has greatly impeded its progress.

The legal icon also insisted that Nigeria needs a new Constitution which will also take care of regional governments and ensure a freedom for their wealth.

He said, “our leaders are not committed to a better nation. That is it. They are not sincere. Corruption prevails, that is the situation we have. I’m not satisfied with the kind of democracy we are practising now, I’m dissatisfied.

Also, Dr Ajulo explained that what makes June 12 so significant is that it shows that power belongs to the people irrespective of whatever the so-called power could be.

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“And the people’s will, at the end of the day, prevailed. And if you ask me how, today we have democracy, enduring one. It is a watershed, it is a landmark in Nigeria and whatever anybody will say, it shows this is what it is, and that’s why I subscribe to the celebration of the day every year.  It’s to remind us that power is for the people.

“When people come together collectively, they can achieve anything and that is what was demonstrated in June 12th. It’s basically a day for democracy, for popular choice, for freedom. If we must call the day Nigeria has its freedom, that is the day. And what we should try to do is to ensure that that freedom we so sought is not discounted, is not eradicated, and it’s not wished away. And the best way not to wish away is that we should continue to follow the law.

“In celebrating the June 12, it is basically to celebrate what makes us great. Good governance. Any government that celebrates June 12 and does not follow the dictate of the law, what is laid down, equity, fairness, is not celebrating June 12. In Ondo state, the government of Lucky Aiyedatiwa makes issue of rule of law a strong backbone”, he stressed.

The senior advocate of Nigeria said although Nigeria’s democracy is not perfect yet it is working towards perfection.

“If you remember when we were coming from 1999, the constitution we had then is different from what we are having now. You can see constitution has gone through almost five alterations. It is towards perfection. So every endeavour of Nigerians in our country, even in the States, is towards one goal, perfecting our democracy. And what that one means is that it is not yet uhururu and that is what we are doing”, he said.

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On his part, the State Chairman of Afenifere, Chief Korede Duyile, said the June 12 annulment reshaped Nigeria, but not for the better, adding that Nigeria has not been where it should have been because it has lagged behind in every development.

“If June 12 had been allowed to stay, probably we would have been lucky. In the annals of Nigerian history. June 12 stood out as a beacon of hope, a day when the nation came together to embrace the promise of free and fair elections”, the former member of House of Representatives stressed.

According to him, the significance of that day was not lost on ordinary Nigerians who saw beyond the barriers of religion and tribe, but instead focusing on the shared vision of a better Nigeria.

“For in the hearts of its people, the spirit of June 12 lives on, as Mashood Abiola is regarded as the hero of June 12 and celebrated yearly. With the pronouncement as the winner of the election, he (Abiola) was named as the elected president, even though it was just by an election and he was not sworn in,” he noted.

In his assessment of the country’s democratic journey, the former member of the House of Representatives explained that June 12 was regarded as Democracy Day, which has given Nigerians the opportunity to elect their leaders themselves, though not as freely as expected.

“People have been expressing their voices in elections, which is better than the full military rule era. It will be a joke if the economic situation continues without changing the structure of the country to allow for the development we are expecting,” Duyile noted.

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An Ado-Ekiti based political analyst, Elder Ayo Arogundade, said the significance of June 12 every year is to mark the celebration of the return of democracy which is the government of the people and by the people to the country.

“Though, this is one of the notable achievements of the last administration in the country under the leadership of former President Mohammad Buhari by changing the date from May 29 to June 12. It is good and we are happy to have an uninterrupted democratic journey since 1999.

“But if I may say, Nigeria has not been getting it right, looking at the hardship the country is passing through at the moment. Many of the citizens are passing through a lot of difficulties in terms of security challenges and the scarcity of food in the country. All these are the shortcomings in our democratic journey. But we must give thanks to God Almighty for the stability on our democratic transitions. Power has been transmitting from one democratic government to another”, he added.

On his part, the Secretary, Ekiti Council of Elders, Elder Sunday Ajibulu, commended the country for sustaining an unbreakable and uninterrupted democratic system of government, just as he charged those at the helms of affairs to try more to unite all tribes for peace and progress of the country.

“On changing Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12, I want to commend those that made the move few years back. This was to honour the late Mashood Kashimawo Abiola (MKO). He was the hero of democracy; he fought for the actualisation of democracy in Nigeria, he lost his life and that of his wife, apparently to ensure the actualisation of democracy in the country”, he stressed.

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