June 12 as documented by Wikipedia the global information engine, is the 163rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 202 days remain until the end of the year. It is a mere date just like every other day of the year.
But in Nigeria, the date is symbolic. The importance of the date in the country stems from the fact that the 1993 Nigerian presidential election was held on 12 June 1993 in the Nigerian third Republic, the first since the 1983 military coup ended the country’s Second Republic. The elections were the outcome of a transitional process to civilian rule spearheaded by the military ruler, Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babaginda (IBB). The unofficial result of the election – though not declared by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – indicated a victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who defeated Bashiru Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
The winner of the election was thus never declared as the elections were annulled by IBB, citing electoral irregularities. The annulment led to protests and political unrest, including the resignation of IBB and a weak interim civilian government, and culminated in the continuation of military rule in the country with Sani Abacha ascending to power as the military head of state via a bloodless coup later in the year.
When democracy re-emerged on the nation’s political space in May 29, 1999, that was the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960. Lagos, Nigeria and some south western states of Nigeria, beginning from June 12, 2000 adopted, and formerly celebrated the day as Abiola Day.
Today, Democracy Day is June 12, a national public Holiday. Until June 6, 2018, it was held annually on May 29. Democracy Day marks the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999.
On June 6, 2018, eight days after May 29, 2018 had been celebrated as Democracy Day, the President Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria declared June 12 to be the new Democracy Day. These were done to commemorate the democratic election of MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993, in what has been adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections.
At this point IKA WEEKLY NEWSPAPER will among other concerns ask; what this historical account means to us as a people? What are the ingrain lessons in this account? Is democracy as currently practised, people purposed? Has it in any way improved the life chances of Nigerians? Does the present political and socio-economic reality in the country reflect the true meaning of June 12? If June 12 was made a public holiday to correct the injustice done to MKO, what should we say of the present? Is there justice, equity and fairness in the country? And what effort are the public officials making to right these wrongs?
As the nation celebrates this day, IKA WEEKLY NEWSPAPER holds the opinion that government both the Federal and state levels need to do more to ensure political and socio-economic justices for the people, tribal/ethnic allegations and the federating states.
In the same vein, while wishing all Nigerians a fruitful democracy day celebration, the newspaper editorial Board must underline that ‘The destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it .
If we are able to manage present political and other social menaces effectively and navigate out of dangers of disintegration, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme. But, then, no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability, fairness and equity!
From all of us at the IKA WEEKLY NEWSPAPER, the foremost, and most informative newspaper in Ika nation, we wish the people of Ika land, Deltans and of course the entire nation, a grace-filled Democracy Day celebration.