June 12, formally known as Democracy Day is now a public holiday to commemorate the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.
The date poignantly iconises the martyrdom of Chief MKO Abiola, the man whose blood could be said to have watered the tree of democracy in Nigeria after decades of military rule. June 12 as Democracy Day is President Muhammadu Buhari’s replacement of the May 27 date which had been instituted by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, in the light of infractions, refusal to follow due process, official corruption in high places, and some brutal actions of administrations since 1999, the question arises whether there is cause for any celebration. Have democratic cultures and practices been established? Why have the actors in the macabre drama of governance been more interested in compromising institutions and persons?
Are the State Governors truly committed to democracy if they seem to have wrapped the legislatures in the different States around their fingers? What about voting persons into office?
Has the system been above board as a true reflection of the spirit of free choice? One school of thought argues that we ought to celebrate governance and not democracy.
They contend that it is not right to celebrate democracy day when we are not practicing democracy. Their view is that there is nothing worth celebrating in a democracy that is monetized against the people.
In their view, democracy that is not government of the people, by the people and for the people is not democracy.
The other school of thought says that we are right as a country to celebrate Democracy Day because June 12 is a celebration of political values that have many things to do with some principles that June 12 represents. Failure to mark June 12 will be tantamount to going back to anti-democratic inclinations.
June 12 is a date that is significant or iconic for mixed reasons. It is part of our national and institutional memory. The date in 1993 saw the annulment of the most objective, transparent, and credible elections in the annals of Nigerian history. June 12 is an injustice of a vocal minority against the collective desires of majority of the people. June 12 indeed is a day to remember.
The wound of June 12 may heal but Nigeria, as a nation must live with the scar for a long time to come. Antagonists thought June 12 was dead; but it has refused to die! The significance of June 12 is diverse and stares us in the face. The significance includes the fact that it remains a barometer for measuring government sincerity in electioneering. It is a yardstick for evaluating the independence of the election umpire of Nigeria.
It is a test case of how over 350 nationalities could speak with one voice; it reflects how a few enemies of progress, and their minions sabotaged the collective will of the people.
June 12 provides the foundation on centripetal and centrifugal forces that have made our moving forward as a nation, continuously impossible! All these notwithstanding, we have many reasons for celebrating June 12.
We have the challenge of military practitioners, now turned politicians that believe in command and obey or obey before complaining militaristic or gunboat-democracy principles that foist exclusive governance on hapless Nigerians.
Our celebration of June 12 provides us the opportunity to smoothen the rough edges of our now compromised democracy and good governance. It is not a day of the parade of ill-trained politicised military personnel that will faint and collapse during parade. It should be a day for cerebral seminars, workshops and retreats on democracy and good governance in Nigeria to reset Nigeria.
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We in The Trumpet believe in the ideals of the protagonist of June 12 to restructure Nigeria in a new fiscal federalism that is rooted in equity, justice, and fair play where no man is a second-class citizen in his own country. We believe that delegates should represent the opinion of their people.
We believe also that political representatives must represent their people well, respect the values of democracy which includes the rule of law, separation of powers, inclusion, free and fair election, democracy and good governance, protection of lives and security that democracy provides.
We believe also that the worst democratic government is better than the best military regime. When all the ingredients and values of democracy are in place, the significance of June 12 will be better understood and appreciated by all.