On the 6th of June 2018, President Buhari declared June 12 Nigeria’s Democracy Day, a day previously celebrated on the 29th of May. This was done in honour of Late Chief MKO Abiola who contested and won the then June 12, 1993 presidential election, though the election was annulled and he was never officially recognised as the President of Nigeria.
In a signed statement, President Buhari stated “June 12, 1993, was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since our independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process”
Today, Late Abiola was given the posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), the highest honour only attained by Presidents of Nigeria. His then running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) while late human rights activist and senior lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, also received the GCON.
Though Nigerians remain sceptical as to the true motive behind the President’s recent actions, it is a welcomed development towards achieving a free and fair election come 2019.