Democracy Day celebration
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
TODAY, June 12, 2020 , is unique and historic. It is the first time Nigerians would observe the day as a national holiday. It is the 27th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll presumably won by late business mogul and politician, Chief M.K.O Abiola. On the flip side, it is the first anniversary of the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Hence, today’s event is double-edged in nature: First anniversary of June 12 as national democracy day and 27th anniversary of the annulment of the election.
The June 12, 1993 election was dubbed the freest and fairest poll in the annals of electioneering in the world’s largest black nation. Under a two-party system, the Social Democratic Party, SDP’s Muslim-Muslim ticket of Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe edged out a Muslim-Christian ticket of Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa and Sylvester Ugoh put forward by the National Republican Convention, NRC.
Mid-way into the announcement of the results, which Abiola was clearly on the way to victory, then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the exercise and flung the nation into avoidable chaos that claimed many souls with the attendant socio-economic and political instability. Strident efforts of some elder statesmen from all parts of the country, pro-democracy activists and groups such as the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, led to the return of civil rule on May 29, 1999.
READ ALSO: We’ll continue June 12 struggle until Nigeria’s restructured — Aare Adams
With the return of civil rule calls by pro-democracy activists and elder statesmen for immortalisation of Abiola, and recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day were not answered until last year when President Buhari did so.
Hence, today is the first 365 days of that historic decision. Sadly, there will be little or no colourful celebration of June 12 today because of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic. A couple of virtual events will be held nevertheless by the June 12 Movement.
However, many questions are popping up regarding June 12 Democracy Day. One year after, is Nigeria on the path to true democracy? Put in other words: Is Nigeria practising true democracy? Have we started the farewell to poverty roadmap of MKO Abiola?
A peep into the state of affairs in Nigeria since June 12, last year, shows that the country is light years away from true democracy. Violation of human rights, insecurity, and poor delivery of democracy dividends among others are still the orders of the day as Vanguard’s checks reveal.
Indeed, National Publicity Secretary of NADECO, Chief Ayo Opadokun, said with rising insecurity, abandonment of fiscal federalism and refusal of the government to restructure the country, the group is worried that none of the critical issues it raised last year over June 12 has been addressed ‘’even though they remain critical and fundamental towards resolving the incessant political instability, economic misery, national mutual mistrust, in-cohesion and unacceptable level of national insecurity.’’
‘’NADECO, therefore restates that the current centralist and unitarist government that has occasioned inequity, unfair play, injustice, discrimination and disrespect for the rule of law within the skewed, warped and lopsided national structure are unsustainable and cannot endure any longer in Nigeria’s heterogeneous society,’’ he added.
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Democracy Day celebration