Between May 29 And June 12
It has been argued several times by ardent political evaluators that May 29 as democracy day has no political significance than Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola June 12 1993 presidential elections which was annulled by then Military President Rtd Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
June 12 elections were conducted by Professor Humphrey Nwosu as the INEC chairman then who was afraid to announce the result that led to the purported annulment. The returned of military government to civilian government on May 29, 1999 impelled the then former President Olusegun Obasanjo to see May 29 as democracy day.
Though the purported cancellation of June 12 elections prompted some Nigerians to see the relevance of June 12 as a real democracy day where every Nigerian then duly exercised their franchise to vote for a credible candidate. The annulment of June 12 came at a time when all Nigerians were apprehensively fighting for freedom from various heartless military governments that held the country hostage then. The military governments then were not different from the Boko Haram killings in recent times. Many innocent Nigerians were jailed and killed on the name of infamous leadership of the military governments.
The arrival of Chief MKO Abiola was just like a relief to the hapless Nigerians. The South west region of Nigeria has continued to observe June 12 every year as the real democracy day not May 29 where many described as a day for unjust leaders to be celebrated not the choice of the people. Late Chief MKO Abiola fought tooth and tail to secure the presidential ticket and wanted to free Nigerians from the excruciating poverty but was thwarted by the military powers that be.
MKO was the choices of the people that believed on the unity and oneness of Nigeria and was ready to solve not create problems. He elevated many Nigerians from their pitiable conditions to ladder of successes. A political democratic roadmap could be traced from June 12 of MKO Abiola. He also promised to bring government nearer to the grassroots.
Again, June 12 is a signpost to Nigerians and has been declared by lovers of democracy as day Nigerians genuinely exercised their democratic rights while May 29 is regarded for those that were foisted on the masses' rights. Since the returned of Military government to Civilian government, no presidential election had been conducted like the June 12 elections which remained indelible in the sands of time. May 29 as democracy day is described as a flawed system of destabilizing the gambit of democracy in Nigeria. Late Chief MKO Abiola intention was to bring dividends of democracy to the people than amassing wealth to himself. 21years of unbroken democratic process of Chief MKO Abiola cannot be easily erased by his supporters who felt the betrayal of MKO Abiola is worthy to be celebrated.
Super Comrade Joseph Evah, the co-ordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG) continues to observe June 12 every year as a actual democracy day not May 29. Chief MKO Abiola met well for Nigerians if he was allowed to resume his presidential position.
Today, Nigeria would have recorded innumerable achievements through MKO Abiola if not the enemies of democracy then. Though Obasanjo once said that MKO was not the democratic messiah as he was elected at his first tenure to compensate the South West by the North while many ignored that callous comment from a former maximum ruler that turned to Civilian President over night. Others like Femi Falana, Ahmed Tinubu, Yinka Odumakin, Joe Odumakin, late Gani Fawehimi, Pastor Tunde Bakare, and Dr. Kayode Feyemi, Aregbesola,Prof Wole Soyinka, Prof Pat Utomi, Festus Keyamo and others see June 12 as democracy day which they believe that the federal government should thrust aside May 29 as democracy day. May 29 is only breeding uncontrollable security challenges across the country most especially the North where Boko Haram has taken a swipe on killing innocent citizens of this country, in spite of the government intended to provide amnesty for them which they abruptly refused over time.
To some quarters, May 29 as democracy day is seen as bloody day and nothing else. One of these so-called official celebrations is no longer important to Nigerians due to the regular security challenges in the country. Even May 27 tagged as children's day were only celebrated by few children across the country because of the plaguing security challenges in recent times. Ist October 1960 was the day Nigeria gained her freedom from the British system of government and yet nothing has changed for better since then. Even the 100 years of Nigeria celebrated few months ago was faulted by democratic critics as waste of federal government funds than creating a friendlier democratic environment for Nigerians.
The problem is that every May 29 as democracy day when any elected President of Nigeria would read an elongated speech of telling Nigerians myriad of achievements never fulfilled. Nigerians cannot be fooled anymore. June 12 should be seen as democracy day where Nigerians demonstrated and sacrificed their lives for democracy.
It is time to see June 12 as the actual democracy day and while federal government should declared it as public holiday not for South west only. For President Goodluck Jonathan to change the most foremost University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University which never went well with the supporters of democracy which they regarded as a kangaroo immortalization. MKO Abiola was a reputable democrat that needed to be celebrated internationally like late Nelson Mandela of South Africa and nothing else. Though some polytechnics in Nigeria have immortalized MKO's name in their institutions over the years. May 29 should be substituted for June 12 as public holiday now.
Public Affairs Analyst