The June 12, 1993 story in Nigeria, has over the years nudged at the democratic consciousness of the country. Although May 29 was preferred as Democracy Day at the return to civil rule in 1999, June 12 never ceased to be referred to as a watershed in the struggle for democracy in the country. This was as a result of the death of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola who embodied the struggle, having won the presidential election that date.
And so recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration seemed befitting, in light of acceptance of what the day represents.
This year’s celebration comes as Nigeria goes through a rough patch, paved with insecurity, ethnic tensions and political uncertainty. Also, the day couldn’t have been marked at a better time than when the constitution amendment is in full process, while clamour for restructuring among other agitations continue to rage.
NADECO national secretary, Ayo Opadokun in a chat states his opinion that the government was not willing to take advice and was bent on opening the colonial grazing routes which in his opinion should not be.
Another activist who participated in the June 12 struggle, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike told me, “Elections alone does not make a country democratic. If you look at the situation from 1999 to date, you will see that there has been decrease in terms of voters turn out because of apathy, mainly because democratic dividend is diminishing.”
He states that the nation has been wobbling and unable to achieve the ideals of democracy as the promise of democracy has not been turned into reality in the last 22 years.
“We have not been making a good choice of political leadership.There are instructions that regulate the society. For example, the electoral process must be flawless and transparent, the court must be independent and respected and the rule of law must be respected.
“The court should not be in the hold of the Presidency, the Legislature is to check the excess of the Executive and the Judiciary,”
adding that the country has practiced in breach of democracy.
Former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, who participated in the Struggle mentioned that God was the reason Nigeria had not collapsed.
“I must not forget to thank God for loving Nigeria. If not for Him, the country would have collapsed a long time ago. The kind of shockabsorber God is supporting Nigeria with is strange. I don’t think any other country in the world has such a shockabsorber,” he said.
However, as weeks turn into months and months into years, we continue to mark Democracy Day, hoping that Nigeria would soon overcome its challenges and become the Great Nation God created it to be.