Nigerians today mark the 23 years anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, widely acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in the country’s history.
The poll is believed to have been won by business mogul and philanthropist, Chief Moshood Abiola.
While the significance of the date is acknowledged across the country, it is mainly states in the south west that actually recognise and mark it with some activities.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital South West Nigeria and the hometown of the late Moshood Abiola, the occasion was marked with a walk organized by the state government and a special prayer session at the family house of the late business mogul.
From the take-off point of the walk at the June 12 Cultural Centre, through major streets of the state, the state deputy governor led other members of the State Executive Council on the walk which lasted for about two hours and terminated at the family house of the late MKO Abiola.
Addressing family members, Islamic clerics and members of the State Executive Council and other dignitaries, the Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, commended the doggedness of the late MKO Abiola saying that his resilience has brought about the current democratic experience in the country
Representing Governor Ibikunle Amosun, she reiterated the commitment of the state government towards sustaining events that would continue to bring the day into the sub consciousness of residents.
Speaking to journalists after the prayer session, one of the family members and younger brother of the late politician, Muritala Abiola, said that life has not been easy since the death of their bread winner.
The family would also want the federal government to declare the late Abiola posthumously as the winner of that election.
In Osun State, civil society groups held a rally in Osogbo the state capital to promote their view that June 12 should be regarded as Democracy Day instead of May 29.
The group comprising civil society organisations, students and market women walked from Ayetoro area to Freedom Park and later moved on to Olaiya junction singing and chanting songs of democracy.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the rally, some of the human rights activists, Waheed Saka and Rasheed Ropo argued that the June 12, 1993 presidential election gave birth to democracy in Nigeria.
They noted that it remains the freest, fairest and most credible election in the history of the country.
They also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the “farewell to poverty” manifesto of the late MKO Abiola.
They called for a posthumous declaration of Abiola as a President of Nigeria while urging the federal government to tackle the various challenges facing the country headlong.
Workers in Oyo State would be observing a work-free day on Monday as the Oyo State Governor, Mr Abiola Ajimobi, has declared Monday, June 13, as public holiday in commemoration of the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
A statement by the Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy to the Governor, Mr Yomi Layinka, conveyed the Governor’s decision, on Sunday.
“June 12 remains a watershed in the history of the country, because of the significance of the day in the nation’s democratic journey, having broken all ethnic and religious barriers.
“The annulled election is yet to be matched in terms of freeness, fairness, transparency, openness and widespread acceptability,” the Governor said.
He urged the Federal Government to “immortalize and officially recognize Abiola as a former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to confer on him the highest honour in the land befitting of a former president”.
The Office of Civic Engagements in the office of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State marked the 23rd anniversary of June 12 with the theme, ‘Democracy And Inclusiveness; A Basis For Good Governance’.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, called for true federalism and national unity regardless of religion and ethnicity.
Also speaking at the occasion, legal practitioner and former NADECO leader, Chief Ayo Opadokun said that June 12 would continue to remain relevant in the nation’s democratic history.
He also called on federal and state authorities to show more respect for the rule of law.