Why Democracy Day Is Celebrated On 12 June In Nigeria.
Prior to 6 June 2018, Democracy Day in Nigeria was celebrated on 29 May to mark the transition of Nigeria from Military Government to Democratic Government in 1999, but the administration of Muhammad Buhari adopted 12 June to honour MKO Abiola.
Nigeria got its independence from Britain as a democratic country in 1960, but that ended immediately the military men took over power after January 15, 1966 coup.
After series of military coups that let a lot of heads of states in power, the Major General Olusegun Obasanjo regime of 1976-1979, handed power over to a civilian government to fulfil the promise made by his predecessor, Murtala Mohammed. The democratic government under Shehu Shagari, only lasted for 5 years before it was overthrown by another military man.
Efforts were made by General Ibrahim Babangida to restore democracy in the country. He allowed an election to be conducted in his regime but later annulled the presidential election of 12 June 1993, in which MKO Abiola emerged as the winner.
Why Is Democracy Day No longer Celebrated On 29 May In Nigeria?
The last military government headed by Abdusalemi Abubakar decided to hand power over to the civilian government on 29 May 1999. Democracy Day was previously celebrated on 29 May to mark the transition of the military government to the highest lasting democratic government in Nigerian history since independence.
The administration of President Muhammad Buhari decided to change the Democracy Day to 12 June from 29 May to honour MKO Abiola, who died in prison.
MKO Abiola was the winner of the 12 June 1993 presidential election, which was annulled by the Nigerian head of state, Major General Ibrahim Babangida. He annulled the election and appointment his friend, Ernest Shonekan as the interim head of state.
General Sunny Abacha overthrew the interim government in 1993 and became Nigeria’s head of state. MKO Abiola had been resentful of the election annulment and decided to declare himself the winner and president of the country, an action which landed him in jail. He was imprisoned by General Abacha and he died in the prison after 3 years of being there.
Buhari’s government changed the traditional democracy day from 29 May to 12 June, to know the election of MKO Abiola. The 12 June 1993 election is regarded as the freest election ever conducted in Nigeria.