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What Nigerians think of June 12 as Democracy Day

Nigeria on Wednesday formally marked June 12 as its Democracy Day after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to a bill nullifying May 29 previously marked as…

Nigeria on Wednesday formally marked June 12 as its Democracy Day after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to a bill nullifying May 29 previously marked as a public holiday for the celebration. Mixed reactions have, however, trailed this development. While some Nigerians see it as a welcome development, some say it is not enough. Daily Trust Saturday sought opinions.

Elizabeth O. Emodi, 34, Banker, Abuja

June 12 symbolises a lot in our democracy as it reflects the struggles of the true democrats we had in the past, even though, it was not allowed to be. Much is however expected beyond only recognizing the day as a special day for celebrating democracy. We need to allow the features, benefits and privileges of democracy dominate the actions and inactions of our leaders and all people at the helm of affairs.

Paul Awulonu Chuks, 42, Teacher, Lagos

June 12 as Democracy Day came as a result of the election conducted in 1993, by the government of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, was adjudged by Nigerians and countries the world over as the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the result announced by Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the then chairman of National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) was cancelled.
I think it is a good day to celebrate genuine democracy. The late Moshood Abiola was killed alongside à lot of innocent citizens of this country. There can’t be a better day to remember those who fought and died for genuine democracy in Nigeria.

Israel Kashim Audu, 30, Filmmaker, Kaduna State

This is of great significance to Nigerians looking at what happened years back in 1993. I feel this should have even come before now. June 12 carries huge significance for older Nigerians. It was on that day that presidential elections were held for the first time since the 1983 military coup. It was an event many observers have described as the most significant in Nigeria’s post-independence political history. It is still viewed as the freest, fairest and most peaceful election ever held in Nigeria. On the day, an estimated 14 million Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, religious, class, and regional affiliations, defied bad weather to elect their president with the hope of ending eight years of military dictatorship.

The euphoria was short-lived. The results of the election were never released. But unofficial results gathered through the various polling stations by civil society groups across the country indicated broad national support for the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

So, I feel we are now celebrating true democracy in Nigeria and I urge all politicians to emulate the conduct of the 1993 elections and what happened despite our differences.

Samson Akintaro, Journalist, Lagos

The story of democracy in Nigeria can never be complete without June 12, a day Nigeria had what was globally adjudged as the freest and fairest election, which was bungled by the military. The story is beyond MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner, as it showed the unwavering resolve of Nigerians to return to democracy after years of military rule. I commend the federal government for recognising this day as the true Democracy Day, even though belatedly. A celebration of this day every year will be a reminder of our chequered history as a nation, to know where we are coming from in order to prepare for the future.

Zigwai Hilda Yusuf, 26, Unemployed, Abuja

It is not enough to declare June 12 Democracy Day when the government of the day is not abiding by the rule of law and is silent on the   insecurity, fundamental human rights, unemployment and hunger. The government should sit back and ponder on how to solve these issues. Why was June 12 not recognised since 1993? What exactly is wrong with May 29 as Democracy Day?

Shuaib Abdulwahab Liman, 32, Civil Servant, Lokoja, Kogi State

June12 being a Democracy Day to me is part of Nigeria’s healing process, irrespective of the political undertone. The family of the deceased and winner of the election, the Yoruba nation he and indeed Nigerians will forever remember a day like this. Congratulations to the 8th National Assembly for amending the national holiday act which recognizes the day.

Sixtus Chinemerem Oluigbo, 34, Banker, Lagos

The shift in the date of Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 is a welcome development. In all sincerity, Nigeria would have returned to democracy since June 12, 1993 if not for the annulment by the then military government. So, recognizing it is a step in the right direction. More so, the late Moshood Abiola, who to me is a hero of democracy, is gone, but recognizing this day implies recognising his landslide victory.

Theresa Aboyi Owoicho, Media Consultant/Freelance Journalist, Kaduna

It is remarkable because the June 12, 1993 election, which was annulled, is still believed to be the freest and fairest till date, and the winner of the election, Chief MKO Abiola is still seen as one of the fathers of Nigerian democracy.  But having true democracy is way beyond celebrations on a particular day. Having true democracy is when the people are given those dividends, when the rule of law is entrenched and elections are more participatory, free, fair and violence-free.

The government should also ensure that all the elements of June 12 that made the election credible be adopted and even improved upon. Credible electoral umpires should be engaged and the monetary inducement in our democratic system should be discouraged. All these and more are the true tenets of democracy, and it is far better than marking a particular day.

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