The June 12 idea as a replacement for a Democracy Day (May 29) celebration in Nigeria has generated much furore than any other political debates since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015.
June 12 is significant to the M.K.O Abiola’s family and Nigerians who witnessed the 1993 Presidential Election. It was a day Nigerians trooped out in their numbers to cast majority of their votes to late Moshood Abiola/Baba Gana Kingibe of Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The electoral body, National Electoral Commission, led by Prof. Humprey Nwosu conducted the election, during which Option A4 voting system and the Open ballot system was used.
“Nwosu had released many of the election results when he was ordered to stop further announcement by the military regime,” wikipedia.
Abiola and his running mates were Muslims, but Nigerians looked beyond religion. It may be difficult to achieve that again in Nigeria.
Significance of June 12 Idea
This means that May 29, beginning from 2019, will no longer be Nigeria’s Democracy Day public holiday rather June 12.
The 1993 Presidential Election data showed that M.K.O Abiola won the polls but he was never officially declared the winner neither was he sworn into office by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida.
Efforts by M.K.O Abiola to actualise his mandate led to his imprisonment by the Sani Abacha’s military regime.
M.K.O Abiola later died in prison in 1998 during the military government of Abdulsalami Abukakar. Some Nigerians are still asking why Gen. Abdulsalam didn’t release M.K.O almost four weeks after the mysterious demise of his boss, Sani Abacha.
The June 12 idea by the All Progressive Party (APC) means Buhari has created two major things considering the fact that former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan had jettisoned calls to recognise M.K.O Abiola as the winner of election that claimed his life:
- Written his name in the political history book of the Abiola’sand Nigeria as a whole
- Created huge problem for any other incoming government, if he lost the 2019 General Election; and for any ruling political party that plans to revert the June 12 Democracy Day celebration.
“For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government.
“The first time this happened was on October 21st, 1979. But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12th, 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even the October 1st,” a statement by the presidency said Wednesday.
“June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence.
“The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.
“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal government has decided that henceforth, June 12th will be celebrated as Democracy Day.
“Therefore, Government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12th 1993 cancelled elections.
“His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualization of the June 12th elections and indeed for Democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN is to be awarded the GCON.
“The investiture will take place on Tuesday June 12th, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that effective 2019 Nigeria’s Democracy Day, marked every May 29 for the past 18 years, be shifted to June 12 to honour Moshood Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential election,” he said.
Who gave Buhari the June 12 idea?
The June 12 idea hasn’t be done in isolation, the official short and powerful statement by President Buhari on June 6, 2018 shows that there are strong political strategists behind the June 12 idea by the APC-led government.
Whether Buhari wins 2019 Presidential Election or not, reverting June 12 idea as Nigeria’s Democracy Day will be a tough decision.
Whether it was done for political motives or because of Buhari’s genuine recognition of June 12 as the main democracy day, history has been made.
So, here is infobase list of likely people who gave Buhari the June 12 idea
Top on this list is Jagaban of Borgu, Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu, who has strong political influence in the Buhari-led government.
He is known to have managed the affairs of Lagos State as a governor without Federal Allocation for some years, which was held by the then Obasanjo-led administration, as a political punishment for his daring political will.
He may not be appointed into any board or any other political office (he’s politically powerful than any minister), but he is considered one of the voices to recon with in Southwest politics.
Since Buhari declared his intention to run for a second term, Tinubu, as we know he’s one of the heavyweights who can deliver the southwest for APC.
Remember that Tinubu’ political career began in 1992, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, Abiola’s party.
Tinubu was elected to the Nigerian Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic.
We also believe that Tinubu is instrumental to Buhari’s June 12 idea because he (Tinubu) was a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition.
A statement on Thursday, June 7, 2018, by Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr. Tunde Rahman, said:
“The award of GCFR to Chief Abiola serves as an acknowledgement that he won the 1993 election and should have been allowed to serve as our president after winning that free and fair expression of the popular will,” he said.
“We also commend the award to MKO Abiola’s VP candidate, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and that given to Chief Gani Fawehinmi. Chief Fawehinmi was a fearless advocate for democracy and the human rights of the common man. Whenever and wherever he spoke, it was the language of truth to power.
“Along with all democratic and fair-minded Nigerians, I welcome the news that June 12 will replace May 29 as Democracy Day.
“I too applaud President Buhari for making this courageous and rightful decision. This is good news for democracy and a proud moment for Nigeria. While impossible to go back in time and change the past, we must do our utmost to correct the wrongs of the past.
“This is what Buhari has done by this decision. He has shown all Nigerians and the world that we have the moral fortitude to objectively face our history, learn from it and improve our society by virtue of this learning.
“June 12, more than any other day, symbolizes the struggles and sacrifices made by countless Nigerians to establish democracy as our way of national governance. Chief MKO Abiola and others gave their lives that we might have democracy, that the will of the people would be sovereign and not suppressed by the will of the few.
“This proclamation by the president will forever memorialize the sacrifices made by these patriots who gave up themselves in service of such a noble and rightful purpose.”
“We must consecrate this new holiday and ourselves so that we make it a living holiday. More so than ever before, the spirit of June 12 must live within us. It must guide our politics and how we govern ourselves. We must continuously dedicate ourselves to the freedoms and rights as well as the duties that democracy bestows on us all, political friend and foe alike.
“Let it be said that this presidential proclamation should forever bury ill-conceived notion that President Buhari is ambivalent to democracy. He has shown that he not only respects democracy but duly honor it.
“Democracy may be rough and untidy at times but it remains the form of government best suited for a society as diverse and multifaceted as ours. Today, the sun shines a bit more brightly.
“The sound of democracy peals more resolutely across the land. The sacrifices of Chief Abiola and others have been affirmed by the federal government he once should have led. Democracy has been given its proper seat and day. History has been corrected to the extent humanly possible. Nigeria continues to define its better self,” he said.
He has always been one of the leading voices for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the results of the June 12.
Jagaban is one of the strongest kitchen cabinet members of Buhari’s government, so we can’t completely rule Tinubu out of the June 12 idea.
Second on our list of people behind June 12 idea is an activist and a social commentator, Mr. Yinka Odumakin.
Odumakin is presently one of the leading voices against some of the policies of Buhari-led administration, but we can’t rule him out when it comes to advocacy for justice.
Recalled that the same Odumakin was on January 22, 2011appointeed by presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), as his spokesman.
Odumakin, a 1989 graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has also been in the forefront of recognition of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
Odumakin’s activism started at OAU, where he served as the Public Relations Officer of the university’s Students Union Government (SUG).
Odumakin has also played prominent roles as the Publicity Secretary of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, and later the Save Nigeria Group (SNG).
We can’t rule Odumakin out of the June 12 idea as Nigeria’s Democracy Day and recognition of M.K.O Abiola as the true winner of that election.
Born in 1952, Alhaji Lai Muhammed is the most public person in the cabinet of Buhari due to the fact that he’s always in the media defending the policies of the government: whether good or bad.
A pro-NADECO activist, Lai Muhammed is known to be one of the political strategists who worked tirelessly pre 2015 elections towards the success of APC at the polls.
A 1975 graduate of French from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and Law graduate from the University of Lagos, Mr.Lai Muhammed was the former APC publicity secretary prior 2015 Nigeria’s General Elections.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed is not new to politics and the media industry, particularly in the area of publicity.
He was a former Chairman of Optmedia Limited, a subsidiary of Afromedia Plc, and a Director of Afromedia PLC as well.
He’s not strange to politics, at all. He served as Chief of Staff to Bola Ahmed Tinubu between 1999-2003 in Lagos State, when the latter was the governor.
His success as the spokesman for APC earned him a Federal political appointment by President Buhari on November 11, 2015 as Minister of Information and Culture.
His screening by the Nigerian Senate was filled with humour as former Akwa Ibom State governor and now a Senator, Godswill Akpabio jokingly said, “Can this distinguished chamber allow Mr. Lai to drop one of two propaganda for us, and let him go?
The entire House busted into laughter. Mr. Lai Muhammed is known to have acumen to defend virtually anything with so much joy.
Some Nigerians and political critics have also jokingly turned his name to “lie” instead Lai since both words have the same pronunciation.
We can’t rule Mr Lai Muhammed out of the Buhari’s June 12 idea because he’s always out there to ensure that the government he serves has goodwill in the eyes of Nigerians.
Talk about June 12 Democracy Day idea, Lai Muhammed will definitely be among the voices that advised Buhari to make the bold move, which former governments had failed to do.
He’s a journalist, right? He formerly joined Buhari’s government in August 31, 2015. You’re definitely right. But Femi Adesina is one of the voices Buhari listens to. Very, very well.
Femi Adesina is beyond being senior special adviser on media and publicity to President Buhari.
He’s indeed one of the kitchen cabinet cabinet members of the president.
His journalistic experience at Vanguard Newspapers, National Concord Newspapers, and The Sun Newspapers, where he later became the Editor-In-Chief, makes him have strong influence in the media industry.
Adesina, a former editorial team of National Concord Newspapers, a paper owned and funded by Chief M.K.O Abiola.
Femi Adesina knows what the agitation for June 12 is like. He’s been on the field, he’s worked closely with the Abiola’s, so we can’t rule Femi Adesina out of the Buhari’s June 12 idea.
He won Nigeria Media Merit Awards 2007 as Editor of the Year and was a former president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.
Who do you think are likely to be the brains behind June 12 idea, share with us.