The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said Nigerian youths should be educated on the significance of June 12.
The country on Wednesday marked the maiden Democracy Day, previously held every May 29, to honour the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
The election was widely regarded as the freest and fairest since the country gained independence on October 1, 1960, but the then military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, nullified the election.
Abiola was subsequently jailed and died in custody on July 7, 1998. His struggle and death were said to have birthed democracy in 1999.
Since then, several Nigerians had called for the celebration of Democracy Day on every June 12.
Eventually, on June 6, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as Democracy Day, the maiden edition of which held on Wednesday.
In a statement, Sanwo-Olu said it was through formal education on the importance of the day that the upcoming generation could appreciate and immortalise Abiola.
Speaking at the maiden 2019 Democracy Day at De Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Ikeja, the governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said children and the youth must be educated on the significance of June 12.
Commending Buhari for recognising June 12 as important to the country’s history, Sanwo-Olu said the June 12 presidential election and its annulment were a process and not an event.
“It is a process which acknowledges that the burning desire and the power of the people in choosing their leaders is clearly deep-rooted and non-negotiable,” he said.
Earlier at the residence of the late Abiola, the governor praised Nigerians that sacrificed their time, resources and lives to make the essence of June 12 acknowledged.
In his lecture titled, ‘Hope 93: Democratic Prosperity and Political Stability,’ a professor of political economy, Pat Utomi, said for Abiola to be immortalised, the political class must have a renewed sense of service and make the country work again.
He said, “Abiola reflected an economic justice. In the last two years, the stock market lost N1.8tn because people no longer want to do business in Nigeria. Why do we allow our country to be seen as money-losing machine?
“Nigerian elites should see to how the country can work again to prevent the anarchy that is coming. Do we need a new NADECO (National Democratic Coalition, formed on May 15, 1994 by a group of Nigerian who called on the then military dictator, late Gen Sani Abacha, to step down for Abiola) to liberate us?”
In his speech, the Vice-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Yisa Aremu, said the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day was a triumph of democracy over military dictatorship.
Speaking on behalf of the late hero’s family, his son, Abdul-Amin Abiola, thanked Buhari and Nigerians for making June 12 a reality.