President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,Muhammadu Buhari has directed that, henceforth, the nation’s Democracy Day will be holding on June 12 of every year, as against the current arrangement where the ceremony holds on May 29.
Buhari has also resolved to honour the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, with the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.
The President disclosed this in a statement he signed and made available to journalists on Wednesday.
He said he reached the decisions after due consultations.
Apart from Abiola, Buhari said he would also honour his running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe; and the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the second highest National honour, the Grand Commander of the Niger.
He said their investiture would take place on June 12.
The statement read, “For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29, 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 21, 1979.
“But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even the October 1.
“June 12, 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 12 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 12, 1993 cancelled elections.
“His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON.
“Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 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 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.”
The late Abiola died in detention while struggling to actualise his mandate as contained in the annulled election.
A former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has reacted to the change of the Democracy Day date from May 29 to June 12. Ezekwesili hailed the decision by Buhari to declare June 12 as the new Democracy Day in honour of the late presumed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election, Abiola. She, however, urged Buhari to also honour Mrs Kudirat Abiola.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for officially announcing June 12 as the new Democracy Day in the country. Mr Williams Akporeha, NUPENG President, gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen at the 107th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva on Thursday.