We live in interesting times. Twenty five years ago a gap-toothed general annulled Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections in its history. After a long stretch of the current fourth republic all of almost nineteen years the statement below came out of the blue.

On June 6th, 2018 The President released a press statement as follows:
For the past 18 years Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, as Democracy Day. That was the date 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 October 1st.

“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.

With just two hundred and seventy words Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari threw the country into a great debate with many lauding the gesture as noble and long overdue while some criticized it vehemently as a political ploy to get votes in the Southwest as 2019 looms ever closer. There are those who have also questioned the validity of the conferment of the national honour of GCFR on Chief Abiola posthumously. One of the criteria for the GCFR is that the recipient must collect the award in person. The reality it seems is that people are far more relieved that this has happened and are not so keen on the legal technicalities that the law suggests especially given the painful tragedy that befell the Abiola family.

Late General Sani Abacha and Late MKO Abiola

Late General Sani Abacha and Late MKO Abiola

Two Abiola’s died during the struggle for democracy. Chief Abiola died in prison on July 7, 1998 and his wife Kudirat Abiola was killed by gunmen on the payroll of the state. She was assassinated on June 4, 1996 almost two years after her husband decalred himself as President in Epetedo on 11th June, 1994.

MKO Abiola's arrest

MKO Abiola’s arrest

With the declaration by President Buhari on June 6TH THAT June 12 replace May 29th as Democracy Day in Nigeria it is patently clear that June 12 is now along with October 1st the two most important key dates in Nigeria’s calendar and history. May 29 will now rank a lowly third. We certainly do live in interesting times. What a June we have had and it has only been just twelve days.

On our part we will mark today by engaging in a lunch debate in Pretoria with 12 Nigerians at 12 minutes past 12 noon on today the 12th of June

Late MKO Abiola, Late General Sani Abacha and Late Michael Otedola

Late MKO Abiola, Late General Sani Abacha and Late Michael Otedola

MKO Abiola's Manifesto in 1993

MKO Abiola’s Manifesto in 1993

Adetunji Omotola is the Founder of The Guild of Nigerian Professionals-SA and Nigeria Diaspora Television. He is the Presenter of Afrobizz on Kaya FM and Africa Now on Africa Business Radio. He is also The Founder of African Wine Circle and blogs at www.winelawandpolitics.wodpress.com

Facebook Comments

About author

Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 2007 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

You might also like

Business 0 Comments

Social Enterprise: Growing a Sustainable Business

Are you a social entrepreneur? This free online course will show you how to evaluate your current business model, develop strategies to grow your social enterprise and evaluate its impact.

Business 0 Comments


The world’s biggest unemployment crisis is right here in South Africa‚ according to economist Mike Schussler. Delivering the UASA trade union’s 17th South African Employment Report (SAER)‚ he said the


The premier of Northern Cape, Honourable Chidi Anyamele and the Deputy-Premier, Honourable Cliff Isreal inaugurated the Upington ward of Nigeria union South Africa Northern Cape Province on the 17th of


No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply