Democracy Day

This is one of Nigeria’s important and well-known celebrations and holidays. It came from the celebration of democracy as the name implies. It has previously been celebrated every 29 May but in June 2018, the current President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the holiday will be celebrated every June 12 starting in the year 2019.

Before diving into his reason for shifting the holiday celebrations. How do we celebrate democracy day?

Democracy day is a day celebrated to recognize the end of military rule in Nigeria and the restoration of the democratic system of government in the country which began at the swearing-in of the first president-elect through democracy the person of Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999. 

Though this day is celebrated by Nigerians for different reasons, many Nigerian citizens see this holiday as an opportunity to take a break from work and rest. While some others try to strengthen the faith of others that our country Nigeria will be great again. 

In a country like Nigeria, it’s nothing of a surprise that people choose what to do with their Democracy Day. For national reasons, the day is celebrated in honor of the sacrifices and struggles of everyone that has contributed to the growth of Nigeria and celebrated in hope of continuing progress. 

Some common activities happen all across the country on that day as a national speech to be addressed by the president and large celebrations in Eagle Square, Abuja. In most secondary and primary schools, the students are engaged in either classroom activities or tours to commemorate the day properly.

In some cases, traditional celebrations are held in towns and villages to honor the uniqueness of culture and traditions in Nigeria. For many Nigerian youths and young adults, Democracy Day is an opportunity to educate and inform other people on the importance of participation in the electoral process and taking charge of political offices.

A lot of this education is expected in this year’s celebration because of the current electoral state of the country and the elections next year. Younger people are encouraged to embrace democracy rights and participate actively in democracy.

Going to the past situations Nigeria has been in after its independence from Great Britain in 1960, the civil war happened and this resulted in military coups that are now being studied and read as history. Most of Nigeria’s first three decades as a nation that gained independence were spent under the military dictatorship. 

This was found to be very violent and led to violations of all forms of human rights and even led to the deaths of over one million people. Assassinations were very common, riots and ethnic conflicts took over and that was what prompted democracy in the hearts of leaders. 

The first serious attempt a democratic rule in Nigeria came from Chief Moshood Abiola popularly known as MKO Abiola, in June 1993. He won the presidential elections that were held for a bicameral National Assembly. Unfortunately, the elections were facing condemnations from international institutions and the existing military government annulled the results of the elections and then charged MKO Abiola with treason for declaring himself president.

The political fights continued until the elections and transition to civilian ruled government on May 29, 1999. This was regarded as the first truly democratic election held in early 1999 although there were four charges of inconsistency and fraud, the election result paved way for the new era of democracy in Nigeria, and officials were selected.

On May 5, the constitution was drafted and adopted which preceded the swearing-in of the president-elect, Olusegun Obasanjo, on May 29 of the same year. Though as seen in the past years in Nigeria, there are allegations of government misdeeds and violations. The first democracy day was a day well celebrated and recognized for opening the doors to improvements of the country as a whole and protection of the people.

Now we dare ask if democracy still exists in Nigeria, the country has been in a state of insecurity and economic downtime. The governments failed the citizens they swore to protect, well the democracy day celebration was moved to be celebrated on June 12 and this is the reason the president gave.

The president said his decision to change the country’s Democracy Day from May 29 wasn’t only about the sacrifices of the people that fought for Nigeria’s Democracy. He honours the sacrifices but also said the date change was to demonstrate the commitment of his regime to satisfy the people and create an environment for democracy to be adopted as a way of life.

As reported in the news last year, Buhari has stated in his nationwide broadcast to Nigerians to mark the 2021 Democracy Day. 

“He said he remained enthusiastic about providing an enabling environment for a free, fair, and credible electoral procedure.

He however said Nigerians too must be ready to play their part by getting involved at any level they can by aiding a democratic system that works for all and not for a section or a selected few and demand accountability from their elected administrators.

He added, “My commitment to bequeathing a sustainable democratic culture remains resolute, my pursuit of a fair society remains unshaken and my desire to see that Nigeria remains a country for each one of us has never been stronger.

“In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, the government also recognizes the need to acknowledge notions of marginalization and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.”

Here are the days democracy day has been celebrated in the past years.

• 2021    12 Jun on Satur.

• 2020    12 Jun on Fri.   

• 2019    12 Jun on Wed.    

• 2018    29 May on Tue.    

• 2017    29 May on Mon. 

   

This year's democracy day will fall on a Sunday, June 12 and workers are expecting to have a holiday on Monday, June 13. We wish you a Happy Democracy Day Celebration.

Nigeria will be great again.

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