In Nigeria, the Democracy Day is a celebration of the country’s journey to freedom and human rights. It is celebrated on June 12 every year.

The day commemorates the country’s transition from military rule to democracy and honours the sacrifices of activists who fought for freedom and human rights.

June 12: The History Of Democracy Day In Nigeria

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Background

Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960, but before the country could find its footing on its new journey, the military upturned the gains.

Indeed, you can say that Nigeria’s political landscape was marred by a series of military coups and dictatorships.

The last military ruler, General Sani Abacha, died in 1998, and his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, promised a transition to democracy.

The 1993 Presidential Election

On June 12, 1993, Nigeria held its first presidential election in 10 years. The election was won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, a businessman and politician who ran on the Social Democratic Party ticket.

However, the election was annulled by the military government, leading to widespread protests and human rights abuses.

 The Struggle 

The annulment of the 1993 election sparked a wave of protests and activism across Nigeria.

Pro-democracy groups, led by figures like Gani Fawehinmi (late), Wole Soyinka, and Ken Saro-Wiwa (late), demanded an end to military rule and the establishment of democratic governance.

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The movement was marked by violence, arrests, and human rights abuses, but the activists persisted in their demands for freedom and democracy.

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The Transition 

In 1999, Nigeria adopted a new constitution, and elections were held. Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler, was elected president, marking the beginning of Nigeria’s transition to democratic era.

Democracy Day

Initially, Democracy Day was celebrated on May 29, the day Obasanjo took office.

However, in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as Democracy Day.

Now, the day is set aside for the commemoration of the 1993 presidential election and in honour of MKO Abiola.

Meanwhile, today, June 12, 2024, is a public holiday. It is often called to allow Nigerians engage in activities that promote democratic ideals.

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