Abakaliki – An All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Ebonyi, Dr Paul Okorie, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring June 12 as Nigeria ‘s new Democracy Day.
Okorie made the commendation on Thursday in Abakaliki.President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the delegation after his Investiture as grand Patron by Nigerian Red Cross Society during a courtesy visit held at the Council Chamber State House in Abuja.
According to him, the development is an indication of Buhari’s commitment to deepening the country’s democratic experiment.
He noted that conferment of posthumous honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), on late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, was an indication that Nigeria’s democracy was maturing.
“Recognising June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day and the conferment of GCFR honour on Abiola is an indication of validation of the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential Election.
”Mr President deserves our accolade for this rare feat; the action of Buhari has shown that he is a democrat, not minding his military background.
” People who love justice, people from different political cleavages including pro-democracy activists have been begging and begging that June 12 should be made the Democracy Day,” he said.
Okorie said that the implication of the President’s pronouncement ”is that our democracy is maturing and people can now stand up and say the truth the way it is.”
He appealed to opposition group to embrace the declaration and rally round Mr President in his efforts to deepen the country’s democracy.
Okorie, who was a former Commissioner for Works, Transport, Housing and Environment in Ebonyi, described the late Abiola as a ”democracy’ icon who symbolised unity and died in the course of fighting for restoration of democracy in Nigeria.”
He said that Nigerians from all walks of life, ethnic and religious leanings voted overwhelmingly for Abiola though he ran on Muslim – Muslim ticket because of their belief in him.
“Nigerians were also united in the struggle for the de-annulment of the June 12 Presidential Election because of enormous support Abiola enjoyed from Nigerians.”
He said that Buhari had etched his name in the hearts of Nigerians and lovers of democracy by the pronouncement, stressing that the action would boost the electoral chances of APC in 2019.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari on Wednesday, June 6, announced June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day starting from 2019.
He also announced that the winner of the annulled election, Abiola be conferred with the highest honour of GCFR, while his running mate, Babagana Kingibe be conferred with the Grand Commander Order of Niger (GCON)
Retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military administration annulled the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election believed to have been won by the late Abiola.
Abiola later declared himself President and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned by the late former head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha who toppled Chief Ernest Shonekan’S led interim government in 1994.
In a related development, Mr Ogbuagu Anikwe, Enugu State Commissioner for Information, says the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, is a step towards understanding the ideals of representative government.
Anikwe who spoke in Enugu, said the pronouncement sends the right message to those who have been wondering why May 29 should be celebrated as democracy day.
“There are three tendencies to this issue including a possible date of Oct. 1, 1960, when we began as a nation.
“You also have that significant event where a free and fair election was truncated.
“This is the actual day some people feel should be the democracy day.
“Then you have an interregnum after which democracy was restored and the then regime felt that should be celebrated as the democracy day.
“What this tells you is that democracy day means different things to different people in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Anikwe said that it had become imperative for Nigerians to sit together and redesign the Constitution in order to take care of such contentious issues.
“Just like every other thing that we are not agreed on in this country, there is really need for Nigerians to come together and redesign the Constitution to take care of these contentious issues,” he said.
He said that it was not very good to leave such sensitive issues at the whims and caprices of any government in power to impose on the people.
“Having said this, I am one of those who felt aggrieved that a democratically elected government was not allowed to form in 1993,” he said. (NAN)Related