THE Federal Government has declared Monday, June 12, as public holiday to mark Nigeria’s 2023 Democracy Day celebration.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Oluwatoyin Akinlade disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, June 8.
“Nigeria’s democratic journey has, like in many other climes, encountered both stormy and smooth sails, but the ship of State, its institutions and most importantly, the Nigerian people have remained steadfast on the tenets of democratic governance.
“On this memorable occasion therefore, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria are invited to appreciate the progress that has been made, celebrate the milestones covered and look forward to a better future for the country’s democracy,” the statement said.
Until 2019, Nigeria celebrated Democracy Day on May 29.
However, former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the celebration be marked on June 12 in honour of Moshood Abiola, acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, held on the same date.
June 12 has always been significant to Nigerians, many of whom refer to the election as the most peaceful and credible poll ever held in the country.
An estimated 14 million Nigerians showed up at polling units, defying bad weather to vote in Abiola in an election they hoped would put an end to military dictatorships.
Although data from the elections showed that Abiola emerged winner of the election, he was never formally declared the winner.
Abiola was also never sworn in by the military government under the administration of Ibrahim Babangida, an Army General.
While struggling to reclaim his mandate, Abiola was imprisoned by the then Head of State Sani Abacha, another Army General who took over from Babangida. Abiola died while still in detention, in 1998.
Buhari conferred Abiola with a posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), the highest national honour exclusively reserved for Presidents and former Presidents.