Today marks the 27th year of the annulment of June 12 election and second year of its reversal and official governmental recognition by the noble President of Nigeria, retired Major General Mohanmadu Buhari in a remarkable way, indicative of the arrival of a new dawn for democratic turnarounds for Nigeria’s transformation. a people’s day of triumph of light over the darkness of their oppressors and political Tormentors.
It is a pity, that democracy this year will be lowly celebrated on June 12, 2020 as it was done in 2019 though significantly, Stakeholders of June 12 will still celebrate within the limited scope permitted by the Coronavirus pandemic, preventive and precautionary protocols set for People’s observation to stay safe.
Activists and Democrats who are pleased that June 12 came as a product of their historically tough and consistent ideological struggle built on the strong foundation of imperatives of the day as pure democracy day will join the President who courageously gave expression to its form after twenty six years.
Nobody would have expected the turnaround of June 12 to be a democracy day under president Muhammadu Buhari who as a Military President in 1985, was toppled through a sponsored Coup d’etat fully financed by the Principal of June 12 Chief M K. O Abiola. He nonetheless exhibited leadership magnanimity and significantly achieved where his predecessor Dr Ebele Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated ignobly, very weak leadership, failing to back his declaration of the posthumous naming of the University of Lagos after Basorun, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola by law.
President Buhari’s fiat of recognising june 12 as Democracy day, represented a courageous reversal of the years of injustices resident in not recognising MKO Abiola as the Winner and Principal in the election and not recognising the inherent principles in June 12, immortalising and awarding him the highest National Honour and declaring the Day as Democracy Day portrays him as a man of courage, of great character, truly remarkable and the first ever President Nigeria will have.
THE UNDYING PRINCIPLES IN JUNE 12
Year in and out since 1993, Compatriots believed in June 12 and not the mischievous and inappropriate designation of May 29 as democracy day by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The Activists saw June 12 as a watershed which cannot easily be wished away and have continued to remember the day annually without retreat, without surrender.!
The military regime of Ibrahim babangida tried to wish the day away, it could not, before power was transmitted to the Sonekan administration who was also forced to yield position to the Abacha/Diya interregnum before the evil beneficiary and usurper of the saddening annulment Chief Obasanjo took over power in 1999.
Chief Obasanjo surreptitiously used the power that was fraudulently transferred to him on May 29 1999 to underpin the date as Democracy Day, disregarding the fact that without June 12 1993, there will be no May 29, 1999.
Chief Obasanjo’s adoption of may 29 as Democracy day, turned out a diabolical scheme, to rubbish the significance of June 12 and all its inherent principles, so as to falsify history and distance Nigerians from the mandate.
SIGNIFICANCE OF JUNE 12
In these respects, the displacement of May 29 to yield way for June 12 as Democracy day is therefore a good pointer that we are gradually transiting to a democratic Order, all other things being equal.
Furthermore, the imperatives for june 12 as a democracy day reside in the fact that notwithstanding all the antics of former leaders to dump the celebration of the day as being significant, the day continues to rebounce, this is because never in the history of elections in Nigeria had the electorate spoken in unison about who they wanted as their leader.
Only on June 12, did Nigeria jettison the choice and pairing of a President and his or her Vice/Deputy on the basis of religion.
being the first time that Nigerians voted for a Muslim/Muslim ticket, Basorun Abiola and Ambassador Kingibe being both Muslims.
Indeed, the historic day of June 12 marked a watershed when ethnicity became less important in choosing a candidate because Bashorun Abiola a Yoruba, became the toast of most Nigerians from across the country, in an election in which he beats his opponent even in his Tofa Village in Kano State, a day that marked a new history of power transition from military regime to civilian administration and from the Northern Oligarchy to the South, a feat that political infidels did not allow to be seen through regrettably.
Another significant imperative for june 12 as a democracy day resides in the fact that Bashorun Abiola made the highest sacrifice to make democracy be in Nigeria, he lost his wife, paid the supreme price, lost his businesses and failed to climb the seat of power that he won.!
Sadly, however, Politicians who benefitted like Obasanjo and other selfish political leaders are the least found celebrating the man of courage today, as most of them who have occupied and still in political offices seldomly remember the day, those who actually were in the forefront of the struggle, talkless of assisting those who became victims of the aftermath of the annulment.
PRESERVING DEMOCRACY BEYOND 2023
As Nigerians celebrate June 12, 2020 as Democracy Day, in a new legal way, governments all over Nigeria must introduce new political measures to strengthen the electorate to imbibe new spirit of participation in choosing their prefer leaders based on the above highlighted principles to eschew religious bigotry, exhibit the spirit of unity, to always register and vote without being monetised, monitor the election management board (INEC), to check its claims of independence, ensure it publish the registered voting units throughout the country including names of its officials in its Web Site, the News papers and the Electronics for ease of accessibility.
Now that June 12 has become Democracy Day in Nigeriaria, the day should not be limited to meriments and gala night alone among government officials and Special invitees but should also be seriously used by Government beyond “Historical Exhibition in Arts, Pictures and Immersive Environment”, Secondary Schools Exhibition/Panel Commissioning” to report on
Notwithstanding corona restrictions, Government must give reports on successes of its Anti Corruption, Insecurity and Economy and drawbacks on program and policies under “State of the Nation Address”
The Democracy Day should be demarcated for “People’s Rally” (Post Covid-19) in all the states of the Federation for the people to express their support, commend or condemn government programs and seek change through their resolutions given that June 12 as a democracy day was secured through years of mass rallies, peaceful agitation and protests..
President Buhari should strengthen his award for democracy by introducing electoral and Constitutional reforms that will make the appointment of the INEC Chair multi Stakeholdership, in which the incumbent President is denied the power to single handedly appoint electoral commissioners and chairman.
Security Agencies assigned with electoral duties must be diligent in ensuring a violent free atmosphere for accreditation and election, using their initiatives to protect electoral materials and human rights of voters during and after the elections.
Election stakeholders namely, the political parties, party candidates, INEC, Security Agencies and the electorate must adhere to guidelines, rules and regulations set out for free, fair, free from fear and legitimate elections.
Posthumous conferment of the rank of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola is a recognition of his undeclared victory, hence his Photographs must be pasted on the walls and offices of governments nationwide.
Finally, deserving National Honours should be further bestowed on other Democrats and political Activists who waged strident struggle to get June 12 annulment reversed and later to be recognised or got wounded, maimed or died in the process. I.e.Compatriots like ABIOLA’S WIFE, KUDIRAT, ALFRED REWANE? KEN SARO-WIWA, ALEX IBRU, BEKO RANSOME KUTI, ALAO AKA BASHORUN, Chief GANI FAWEHINMI, COMRADE Chima UBANI, PA ANTHONY ENAHORO, COMRADE OLA ONI, BABA OMOJOLA ETC. while those who annulled June 12 should be consigned into the dustbin of history, if God has not done so!
Comrade Mashood Erubami, A Development Finance Expert
NIGERIA VOTERS ASSEMBLY (VOTAS) and Executive Director Centre For Human Rights and Ethics in Development (CHRED)
Past President, Campaign For Democracy ( CD),
Past Chair, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)
Past Chair, The West African Election Observation Network (WAEON)