States in the south west have declared Monday a public holiday to honour the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola.
The states, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo, have also lined activities to mark the anniversary.
While declaring the public holiday in his state, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said the late Abiola’s supreme sacrifice culminated in the hurried departure of the military from the political scene in 1999.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ajiboye, Governor Akeredolu said the government is organising a lecture, as part of programmes lined up for the day, with the theme: “June 12: A celebration of courage and resilience.”
He said the event will hold at the International Events and Culture Centre (The Dome) in Akure.
“Eminent Nigerians, including notable activists are lined up to grace the event. Hon. Wale Oshun is chairman of the occassion, while human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, will be the guest speaker,” the statement said.
“Akeredolu asked politicians across the country to always demonstrate their unquenchable love for the country.”
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, in a statement on Sunday in Ado Ekiti, said he took the decision to join his other colleagues in the South West in the spirit of the unity of the region.
“Yoruba nation’s interest is beyond personal interest of anyone. For us to forge ahead as a people, we must speak with one voice,” he said.
“In the light of this, I declare Monday a public holiday to further strengthen our collective belief, hope and aspirations.
“This, I have done in the spirit of Yoruba nation and South West integration.”
The Ogun State Government, while declaring the public holiday through the Secretary to State Government, Adeoluwa Taiwo, said it was in line with the practice in the past years to identify with and keep the ideals of June 12.
“Consistent with the practice of the past six years, and, as a way of identifying with and keeping the ideals of June 12 alive, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has declared Monday, June 12, 2017 as work free,” he said.
Mr. Taiwo said the annual holiday was in honour of the late illustrious son of the state, Moshood Abiola, widely believed to have won the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, which marked a unique watershed in Nigeria’s democratic development.
He further said that this year’s celebration would feature the annual “Democracy Walk”, which would be led by the governor, starting from the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta at 7 a.m.
The walk, he said, is expected to take participants through major roads in the state capital to the Abiola family homestead, at Oke-Ido, Gbagura, Abeokuta North Local Government Area, where special prayers and speeches would be made.
According to Mr. Taiwo, an inspirational stage play, “Oju Kelekun” (farewell to reproach), directed by Prof. Bakare Ojo Rasaki, will be performed at the June 12 Cultural Centre, between 3:45 and 6:00 p.m.
He called on all government functionaries, activists, civil society organisations, democracy volunteers, civil servants, labour/trade unions, students, market women/men and other stakeholders, to participate in the events, designed to draw awareness to the continued relevance of June 12.
The Osun State government on its part, said through its spokesman, Semiu Okanlawon, said that the public holiday became imperative in view of the fact that June 12marked a watershed in the history of democratic evolution in the country.
“In line with its established policy of observing June 12 of every year as Democracy Day, the State Government of Osun has declaredMonday, June 12 as public holiday,” he said.
He added that It was the day the June 12, 1993 presidential election, adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria took place.
Late Moshood Abiola won the election. However, victory was annulled by the then military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida.