May 29 or June 12, which is the real Democracy Day?
May 29 or June 12, which is the real Democracy Day?
On May 29, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari, during Democracy Day celebration declared June 12, as the Democracy Day. The Hope Classics speak with lawyers on which of the two days should be declared as Democracy Day. Excerpts:
Mr Yemi Adetoyinbo, a legal practitioner, Human Rights Activists/ former National Publicity Secretary, ADP
I align with the declaration of June 12 as the authentic and real Democracy Day in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 12, 2018 to mark the 25 years anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, in 1993 presidential polls massively won by Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, the SDP, when they defeated Alh. Bashir Othman Tofa and his running mate, Dr Sylvester Ugoh ,of the NRC.
The genesis for the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by the present administration of President Buhari, did what previous administrations that came before him could not do. From 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yaradua, and Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations, had failed to recognized the most democratic foundation and supreme price paid by Abiola, his wife, Kudirat Abiola and several Nigerians who lost their lives to the actualisation of the June 12 struggle.
It goes with massive violence and wanton destruction of lives and properties. But Buhari, finally recognized this June 1,2 as the real democratic foundation date and not the ceremonial Presidential inauguration Day of May 29, 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yaradua, Good luck Ebele Jonathan, and himself, Buhari were inaugurated as Presidents.
The fact remains that Buhari was inaugurated as President for the first time in 2015, on May 29. But having realised that it is constitutional, morally justifiable, and legally as well politically expedient that Abiola be recognized as President elect of Nigeria, but not allowed to be sworn in for an illegal justification by Babangida. Abiola was post humously recognized as former President of Nigeria and was decorated with the highest title for President’s GCFR, including Kingibe as an ex-Vice President, with GCON, thus clothing them with the legal and extra legal, constitutional legal garb to declare June 12 as a Constitutional legally binding Democracy Day in Nigeria, and sent the bill to the National Assembly for passage, as a National Public Holiday Under National Public Holiday Act precedence, with the concurrence of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, it becomes a binding law, just like we gazette and celebrates October 1 every year as our Independence Day Anniversary, and same for June 12.
However, in regards to May 29, 2019, inauguration day for the 2nd term of President Muhammadu Buhari, is only the constitutionally legally recognized Day for inauguration of Presidents and other elected leaders like states’ governors, as the the legal date, they must always take and when they were administered the Oaths of office and that of Allegiance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such their four years tenure start counting and ensures after four years, until they take another four years oath if re-elected. Thus, a 4-year ritual, as against June 12 Democracy Day that was mere ceremonial, like Independence Day.
The President has not in any way breached or violates the law of the land and the Constitution, and has not increased nor enlarged, nor extended his tenure and that of Governors beyond May 29, 2019, but shall be sworn in for a 2nd term in office the same date he took Oath of office in 2015, ditto for the re-elected Governors or newly elected Governors, while the National Assembly and States Assemblies shall be inaugurated for a 4 year tenure by the President and the Governors in a week time after their own inaugurations on May 29. Oaths of Office/inauguration of President and Elected Governors in Nigeria, as gazzatted by law and the 1999 Constitution, and June 12 stands out every year as our Democracy Day, alongside the October 1 Annual Independence Anniversary Day as passed by the Acts of the National Assembly and guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution respectively.
So both are in the order of precedence on Public Holidays Precedence Act and National Order Act as assented to the Precedent in line with Public Order Act 1958 and Presidential Ordinances Powers as signed into law, as well approved by the National Council of State.
June 12 is now an annual Public holiday for the entrenchment of Democratic foundation, norms and values in Nigeria with MKO Abiola, Kudirat and others who paid painfully, the supreme price for the dividends of the uninterrupted 20 years Democracy, we now celebrate, enjoy, adore and freedom cherished, devoid of Military interregnum, or further adventurism in Nigeria since then.
As a June 12 activist, June 12 campaigner, June 12 protester and as a member and councillor in the old SDP, l support, endorse, congratulate the President and other June 12 activists on the declaration of June 12 as the real authentic day/date of democracy in Nigeria.
Mr Tope Temokun, a legal practitioner and Human Rights Activist
It’s good to let our children know about June 12, so that the history and significance of that era in our political history would not be lost in our political archive.
But then, it’s still a Democracy Day, without a true democracy, as there is nothing to celebrate in a democracy where governors find it hard to pay workers N30,000 minimum wage. Where governors owe workers salaries of months without any consequence, where graduates can’t get jobs after leaving school. Where public schools now charge fees that is already taking education out of the reach of the children of the poor and where the voice and the votes of the people do not count in the choice of who govern them.
Until then, the celebration only belongs to the political elite and not the people.
Mr Tolu Babaleye, an Abuja based legal practitioner
It is a promise fulfilled. But I still urge Mr. President to recognise MKO as a former President of Nigeria. All enemies of June 12 are by this singular action put to shame and Democracy won.
Mr Kunle Adetowubo, an Ondo-based legal practitioner
I will say it is a welcome development. It is evident and abundantly too that June 12 is the bedrock of our present democracy and declaring it as Democracy Day instead of May 29, shows that June 12 has come to stay in the National life of our country.
However, I will still be pushful a bit and would rather observe the view that the date June 12 did not come to our national discourse on its own, but through Late Chief M.K. O Abiola.
Therefore, declaring June 12 as late MKO Abiola Day will not be out of place. But it will further entrench in our National life, the place of Democracy and Late MKO Abiola.
Mr Ikujuni Ademola, an Akure-based legal practitioner
It is important to state here that laws are made by the legislators. The red chambers (Senate) on May 16, 2019, passed into law June 12, as the new Democracy Day. Suffice to say that as we speak, having been passed into law as the new Democracy Day, so be it.
We all know what June 12 is. And I am of the opinion that it should be a day to remember in the history of Nigeria and the only way this could be done is to make it a special day like the Democracy Day.