President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that with effect from next year, Nigeria’s Democracy Day, marked every May 29th for the past 18 years be now shifted to the 12th of June.
According to the President, the change is to honour an illustrious son of Nigeria, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, who won a presidential election but was prevented from taking office when the results were annulled.
The late Abiola died while struggling to actualize the mandate.
Consequently, the late MKO Abiola will be conferred with nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR exclusively conferred on the holders of the highest office in the country, the President.
In the same vein, Chief Abiola’s running mate in that election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is to be conferred with the second highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON.
Also to receive a GCON is the late Nigeria’s foremost pro-democracy activist, Gani Fawehinmi.
President Buhari said that: “For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, 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 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 the October 1st.
“June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful election 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 actualisation 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.”