Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Hafsat Abiola-Costello and her brother Jamiu Abiola, children of late politician and winner of the anulled 1993 presidential election MKO Abiola, are among dignitaries at Eagle Square, venue of the Democracy Day celebration by the Federal Government.
Also among early arrivals are governors led by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; former ministers, service chiefs, the Inspector General of Police and other heads of security agencies; members of the legislature and judiciary; members of the diplomatic corps, traditional rulers, and members of the ruling party.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, June 10, assented to the Public Holiday Amendment bill, signing it into law.
The new law allows for public holiday to be declared on June 12 every year, substituting May 29 as a public holiday.
Related: Buhari signs June 12 bill into law
President Buhari had on December 6, 2018 said the decision to honour the late MKO Abiola and to declare June 12 Democracy Day followed years of clamour by activists, statesmen, groups, associates and friends of the late businessman turned politician, including members of the Abiola family. The President had said the decision should be accepted “in good faith” as it would help the country move forward from its troubled past.
“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,” Buhari 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 Nigeria’s struggle for democracy, Nigerians would be able to fully benefit from June 12.
“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12 – the side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12,” he’d said.