Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin
The Centre for Change Initiative on Saturday lauded the presidency and the senate for approving June 12 as Democracy Day.
The President of the organisation, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
She described the approval as a welcome development and a signal of hope for Nigeria’s democracy.
On May 16, the senate approved June 12 as Democracy Day.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 12 last year, immortalised and directed that Nigeria’s Democracy Day, hitherto, marked every May 29 for the past 19 years, be shifted to June 12, to honour Chief Moshood Abiola.
Abiola was the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the result of which was annulled by former veteran military ruler Gen. Ibrahim Babangida on June 23, 1993.
Okei-Odumakin said: “It shows hope for our democracy and it is an affirmation of our long-held position that the Nigerian state must officially recognise June 12 as the authentic Democracy Day in the country.
“There is no doubt that June 12 symbolises our journey towards ending military rule in Nigeria.
“It also significantly represents the unity of Nigerians, towards electing their leaders democratically without recourse to religion or ethnic considerations.’’
Okei-Odumakin urged government, politicians and Nigerians to embrace the lessons surrounding the event of June 12.
“Beyond this official declaration, our government, politicians and Nigerians must embrace every other lesson that June 12 elections symbolises.
“First is the fact that free and fair election is a sine qua non in a democracy. Politicians of today should learn the value of fair contest by eschewing all forms of electoral malpractices and violence.
“The electoral umpire must show uncommon determination to do the best they can in the discharge of their very important mandate.
“Nigerians too must show unity of purpose by putting aside their religious differences in the collective pursuit of national interest,’’ the civil rights activist said. (NAN)