News Analysis

Significance of June 12 as Democracy Day

May 29 has always been known as Democracy Day in Nigeria but on June 6 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari changed the date to June 12 of every year as the new democracy day.

President Buhari explained that June 12 is more suitable as democracy day because of its place in the nation’s history. It was on that date in 1993 that the late Bashorun Moshood Abiola won the presidential election under the Babangida transition programme.

The president noted that correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity and as part of the process of healing and reconciliation, the president approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and honoured the late Chief Abiola with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, and Babagana Kingibe with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON.

On poll day, Nigerians irrespective of their tribe and religion thronged the polling booths to exercise their franchise.

With no disruption whatsoever, the umpire, led by Professor Humphrey Nwosu, was up and doing. The poll became a model for other countries to emulate.

Till date, Nigerians are still awaiting the results, a winner emerged but, the result of the election was annulled by the military government headed by Ibrahim Babangida.

With the annulment and the urge to actualize the mandate, the country witnessed wanton destruction of lives and property, people who are perceived to be the enemies of government are put behind bars.

It is commendable President Buhari’s gesture to declare June 12 every year as democracy day.

It is time for the country to adopt such a day to celebrate the values of democracy and for the citizens to salute their courage and doggedness to have democracy enshrined in Nigeria.

By marking the day, it should serve as a reminder to people who contributed to the annulment of the mandate that Nigerians have chosen democracy as the preferred political system of governance.

This is also a pointer to people like the former chairman of National Electoral Commission, Professor Humpreh Nwosu and other patriotic citizens that their sacrifice is not in vain.

The day also indicates that Nigerians will also be encouraging their compatriots, who are so inclined, to always tread the noble path of patriotism in any matter that concerns Nigeria.

In addition, it is an opportunity for all such acts of injustice hanging on Nigeria to be addressed, and all found guilty to be made to face the full wrath of the law. 

It is also a lesson to workers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the phrase “credible, free and fair elections is neither a political slogan but a fact that should be done with sound mind, truth and conviction. 

Thus, the task to electoral managers to conduct free and fair elections should be seen as both a national assignment and a spiritual exercise.

 The triumph of June 12 is also a lesson to politicians who take up political positions primarily for immediate gratification, that a people’s mandate openly or secretly stolen would, with time, be recovered. 

Leadership demands courage to take the right decisions even if such decisions go against one’s moral preferences. If leaders stick to principles in their actions, time will prove them right. 

Fawzeeyah Kasheem

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