MAY 29 officially became Nigeria’s Democracy Day during the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency.
Now a public holiday to commemorate restoration of democracy in Nigeria after a protracted military regime, many activists still insist June 12 is the true Democracy Day.
For this school of thought, June 12, 1993, is the water shed of our democracy, considering the role played by late Chief M.K.O Abiola who contested and won Nigeria’s fairest and freest election on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). He contested against Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the rested National Republican Convention (NRC).
For this group, his struggle to actualize his stolen mandate, which won him a lot of followers, was the real movement that kicked out the military.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has since given official recognition and public holiday status to October 1, to mark Nigeria’s independence from Britain and May 29, the day we celebrate return to civil rule after 16 years of uninterrupted military administration that almost ruined the nation.
The military had earlier seized power from 1966 to 1979, with late General J. U. T. Aguiyi Ironsi emerging Nigeria’s first Military Head of State. General Abdulsalam Abubakar, however, handed over power to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (who was Head of state from 1976 to 1979) as Nigeria’s second Executive President. Thus, ending the many years of military rule.
Interestingly, Nigeria would be celebrating 16 years of uninterrupted democracy this Friday, May 29.
– UCHE OLEHI