NIGERIAN HAS CELEBRATED MAY 29TH as National Democracy Day, for the past 18 years. This may change soon. Nigeria’s House Of Representatives, Thursday, approved JUNE 12, every year, as the new National Democracy Day for the country. The approval followed adoption of the report on a bill seeking to amend the Public Holidays Act 2004.
Three clauses in the Act were amended. One of the clauses removed May 29 as National Democracy Day, and replaced it with June 12. The lawmakers, in plenary, approved the amendments as recommended in the Report. That date – June 12, 1993, remains political watershed – when the freest, fairest and most peaceful democratic presidential election was held in Nigeria.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in June, directed that the National Democracy Day be shifted from May 29 to June 12. He conferred posthumous award of Grand Commander of The Federal Republic, GCFR, to the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential elections, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola.
President Buhari personally signed a press statement to that effect, that reads: “For the past 18 years, Nigerians have celebrated May 29th as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 21st, 1979”.
“But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12th 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in Nigerian contest, than May 29th, or even the October 1st. June 12th 1993, was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly, the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence”.
Buhari further said: “The fact that the outcome of the election was not upheld by the military government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process”. And added that “after due consultations” his government decided that June 12, replaced May 29, as Democracy Day and celebrated annually in Nigeria.