Controversies trail Nigeria’s selection of new date for democracy day celebrations

Controversies trail the decision by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari’s, in a released statement to shift the Nigerian Democracy Day, marked every May 29 for the past 18 years to June 12, effective from 2019.

According to Buhari, this shift is to honour the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, who won the presidential election conducted on 12 June 1993 but was however, prevented from assuming office because the results were annulled. Asides the shift, Buhari also noted that M.K.O Abiola will be posthumously awarded the highest honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

While many Nigerians have taken to social media to congratulate the President for his historic declaration that past presidents have failed to accomplish, others have criticised him for attempting to appease the South-West, where M.K.O Abiola originated from ahead of the 2019 general elections.

This move by Nigeria’s president, follows a book, The Accidental Public Servant released by Nasir El -Rufai where he narrated how the 12 June was deliberately avoided as hand-over date by the military interregnum of Abdulsalami Abubakar. He also stated that a sequence of calendar searches by the then government for a convenient hand-over date, had fallen right on the 12th, but according to the book, the date signified a “bad karma” for the military that had arbitrarily annulled Nigeria’s freest and fairest election, which held on that date, and the idea that Abdulsalami should hand over on that date was rejected.

The statement released on Wednesday stated that, “The investiture will take place on June 12th 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as a National Public Holiday in celebration of the Nigerian Democracy Day.” However, contrary to what most Nigerians expect, this year’s June 12th will not be a public holiday.