Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law, the Public Holiday Amendment Bill, which formally recognises June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria.
With the president’s assent, May 29 is no longer public holiday.
The president’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, disclosed this to State House Correspondents, after signing ceremony, yesterday.
Enang said with the new law, June 12, being Democracy Day, Nigerians will now observe it as public holiday, every year.
May 29, he further explained, would only be handing-over date; as well as a work day.
“By the Act amended and signed by Mr. President, May 29 is no more a public holiday. June 12 is now a public holiday and the country’s Democracy Day,” Enang reiterated.
Buhari’s assent came 48 hours to the celebration of the maiden Democracy Day.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, May 29 had been observed as Democracy Day.
Two weeks ago, the Federal Government shifted major events for the president’s inauguration to June 12.
Former minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had explained during a world press conference that most events for May 29 were moved to June 12.
Mohammed said world leaders have already been invited to attend Democracy Day on June 12.
Mohammed stated: “The decision to have a low-key inauguration for the President was taken at the meeting of Federal Executive Council of Wednesday May 8, 2019.
“Invitations have been sent to all world leaders to attend the ceremonies marking the observance of the Democracy day on June 12.
“Since the first observance of democracy day falls on an election year, and, as a measure to sustain June 12 as Democracy Day, celebration of the inauguration and advancement of democracy in the country will now take place on June 12.”
Buhari had, on December 6, 2018, said the decision to honour late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, and to declare June 12 as Democracy Day, followed years of clamour by activists, statesmen, groups, as well as the family, associates, and friends of the late businessman and politician.
He said it should be accepted “in good faith” as this will help the nation move forward.
“We cannot rewind the past but we can, at least, assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong had been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections.
“Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country,” the president said.
Buhari added that by moving past the negatives of the struggle, Nigerians would be able to fully benefit from June 12.
“Our action, today, is to bury the negative side of June 12–side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12,” he said.