Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday assented to the Public Holiday Amendment bill.
The Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, announced this to State House correspondents after the signing ceremony.
Enang said by the new law, June 12 every year has now become a public holiday while May 29 will no longer be a public holiday.
May 29 will only be handing over date and a working 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,” he said.
The assent came 48 hours to the celebration of the country’s maiden Democracy Day.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, May 29 had been observed as democracy day.
Recall that the Federal government had shifted major events for the president’s inauguration to June 12, which is now Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
For Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had explained during a world press conference that most events for May 29 had been moved to June 12, the country’s new Democracy Day.
According to him, world leaders had already been invited to attend the Democracy Day on June 12.
Mohammed had stated that “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, the celebration of the inauguration and the advancement of democracy in the country will now take place on June 12.”
Buhari had on December 6, 2018, said the decision to honour MKO Abiola and to declare June 12 Democracy Day followed years of clamour by the activists, statesmen, groups as well as the family, associates, and friends of the late businessman and politician 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 has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections,” he said.
“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.”
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 had said.