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Jubliation As National Assembly Makes June 12 Democracy Day, Public Holiday |RN

RN file photo: National Asssembly Complex

**NASS passes Bill making it Democracy Day, public holiday

Magnus Eze, Enugu, Fred Itua, Abuja and Chinelo  Obogo

The Federal Government has received kudos as the Bill recognising June 12 as Democracy Day scales the National Assembly hurdles.The Senate, yesterday, concurred with the House of Representatives on the passage of a bill to legalise June 12 as Democracy Day.

Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan moved that the House bill which sought the concurrence of the Senate be read the second and third reading. The motion was unanimously carried and the bill passed.

 If President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Bill, May 29 that had been held as Democracy Day since 2000 will cease to be.

It equally means June 12 of every year will replace May 29 as Democracy Day if the bill is signed by President Buhari

In separate reactions, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Afenifere lauded the ratification of June 12 as a healthy development for the nation’s polity.

The apex-Igbo group said  the election held in 1993 and annulled by the military government marked a watershed in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic experience.

Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Chuks Ibegbu told Daily Sun that without June 12, there would not have been any further democratic milestone in the country.

He, therefore, urged the ruling class and all Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of June 12, even as he said what was currently going on in the country was political drama.

“Nobody can discountenance that June 12 was a watershed in this country. Without it, all these subsequent democratic journey wouldn’t have been possible. Anything done to make that day sacrosanct is laudable. The significance of June 12 should not be lost on the ruling class and all Nigerians.”

While the Afenifere also expressed happy that the date has got national recognition, it said until the tenets of democracy were upheld by the Federal Government, such recognition will be futile.

Spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin told Daily Sun that the Federal Government has not embraced the principles of June 12, which is free and fair election.

“We welcome the decision of the Senate to recognise June 12 as Democracy Day and we are happy that the date has got official recognition. However, we are worried that if we are not careful, all that we are doing will amount to a mockery of June 12, if we do not embrace the spirit of June 12, which is free and fair elections. We just had elections in March; did that election reflect what June 12 stands for? All that June 12 stands for has been watered down, we are living with the spirit of annulment on the one hand, while we celebrate the date (June 12) on the other hand. So, until we live with the spirit of what June 12 stands for, it would appear that we are just playing games.

“If the president genuinely believes in June 12, we would not have gone into an election without amending the Electoral law. We did not sign the Electoral Bill and went into election only to ratify June 12 in order to validate the election. For us, it is not just about celebrating the symbolism of that date, it is about the nation accepting the spirit of June 12. That’s when we can clap our hands,” Odumakin said.

Reacting, Anthony Sani, Secretary General of the ACF said: “When President Muhammadu Buhari recognised  June 12 as Democracy Day in honour of Chief MKO Abiola, we applauded the action and prayed that the gesture would go a long way to bring about healing of the wound inflicted by annulment of the election in 1993. And if the NASS has passed the decision into law, then it is heartening. Democracy Day is now legally on June 12 of every year”

President Buhari, had in June 2018, as a way to immortalise the late M.K.O Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, declared June 12 as the new Democracy Day.

To give the Presidential declaration necessary legal backing, Edward Pwajok and Kayode Oladele sponsored a Bill in the House of Representatives last year.

The bill passed by the House in March, sought for an Act to amend the Public Holidays Act to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria in view of current realities and exigencies of the modern time.

Pwajok who led debate on the bill, noted that before 1979, there were separate Acts regulating public holidays in the country.

The Plateau State lawmaker recalled that in 1975, a law was enacted to repeal all state laws on public holidays and to streamline the process of declaring holidays for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He noted that by law, the president may declare any day as a public holiday by public notice or Act through the Minister of Internal Affairs.

 He added that by the schedule of the Act, some days such as New Year Day, National Day like October 1 and religious festivals were set aside for public holidays.

The lawmaker said in 2000, the National Assembly amended the schedule to declare May 29 as Democracy Day.

He noted that in May 2018, President Buhari announced June 12 as the new Democracy day.

Pwajok posited that for the pronouncement of President Buhari to become effective, there has to be an amendment of the Public Holidays Act.

 The Federal Government had said President Buhari’s inauguration for a second term on May 29 will be low-key.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke to State House correspondents on the activities slated to mark the May 29 inauguration said a number of events slated for the inauguration will be held on June 12.

Mohammaed said the decision to have a low-key inauguration for the presidentwas taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council on May 8. He said invitations had been sent to world leaders to attend the ceremonies, marking the observance of Democracy Day on June 12. (The Sun)

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Buhari Shifts Democracy Day To June 12, Honours Abiola,

• Confers GCFR on the presumed winner as Kingibe, late Fawehinmi get GCON

• Son: ‘Finally, it’s done, we’re happy’

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja; Chukwudi Nweje

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that effective from next year, Nigeria’s Democracy Day will now be celebrated on June 12, rather than the traditional May 29.

May 29 has been Nigeria’s Democracy Day for 19 years since the birth of the Fourth Republic.
Buhari will also confer a posthumous Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), Nigeria’s highest honour, on the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential poll, late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

His running mate in that election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe will be awarded Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger GCON as well as a GCON on the late pro-democracy activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Democracy Day shift is to honour “an illustrious son of Nigeria…who won a presidential election but was prevented from taking office when the results were annulled.

“The late Abiola died while struggling to actualise the mandate. Consequently, the late MKO Abiola will be conferred with nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, exclusively conferred on the holders of the highest office in the country, the president.

“In the same vein, Kingibe is to be conferred with the second highest honour, GCON. Also to receive a GCON is Fawehinmi.”

In a personal statement he signed yesterday evening, Buhari explained why his administration chose June 12.

“For the past 19 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29 as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government.

“The first time this happened was on October 1, 1979. But, in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993, was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even October 1.

“June 12, 1993, was the day when Nigerians, in millions, expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not detract from the democratic credentials of that process.

“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.

“Therefore, the government has decided to award posthumously, the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to Abiola… His running mate, as vice president, Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and, indeed, for democracy, in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) is to be awarded the GCON.

“The investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which, in future years, will replace May 29 as a national public holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.”

MKO was born on August 24, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He was the 23rd child of his father but the first to survive infancy.

He delved into business at nine years old, selling firewood before school. By age 15, he founded a band and would perform at various ceremonies in exchange for food.

He was eventually able to require payment for his performances and used the money to support his family and his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta.
Quite politically conscious, MKO joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at the age of 19, because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin.

A business mogul, Abiola set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club. He was also chairman of the G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, among others.

He joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the two political parties registered by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration.

At the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Abiola and his running-mate, Kingibe defeated the National Republican Convention candidates of Alhaji Bashir Uthman Tofa and his running-mate, Dr Sylvester Ugoh.

The election was eventually annulled by Babangida, causing a political crisis which led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year.

In 1994 Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria.
Abacha thereafter arrested and detained Abiola on treason charges.
He was detained for four years.

Abiola died in suspicious circumstances shortly after Abacha’s death, on the day he was due to be released; July 7, 1998.

In his reaction to government’s declaration, Abiola’s eldest son, Kola Abiola, told Daily Sun last night: “Finally, it is done. It’s been a lot of hard work. We are happy.”
Kola also said the family will issue a comprehensive statement on the development.         (The Sun)

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JUST IN: Buhari To Sign ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill |The Republican News

By Anule Emmanuel, Abuja

 

Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will any moment from now sign into law the ‘Not too young to run’ bill.

The President stated this in a nationwide broadcast to mark the 2018 Democracy Day early on Tuesday.

He said, “In few days to come, I will be joined by many promising young Nigerians to sign into law the ‘Not too young to run’ bill”

The bill, which is part of the process to amend the 1999 Constitution, seeks to reduce the minimum age requirement for elective positions in the country.

It was first passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in July 2017. Many state houses of assembly in the country have also passed the bill.

President Buhari also advised Nigerians to be law-abiding as the country enters into a season of another round of election for 2019.

According to him, “The upcoming months will usher us into another season of general elections. Let me use this opportunity to urge us all to conduct ourselves, our wards and our constituencies with the utmost sense of fairness, justice and peaceful co-existence such that we will have not only hitch-free elections but also a credible and violence-free process.”

President who assured that his government was committed to the fight against graft noted that the administration will not relent on one of its primary objectives in killing corruption before it damages the national social economic fabric.

He said, “The second primary objective of this administration is to fight corruption headlong. Like I have always said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will destroy the country. Three years into this administration, Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud our policies and determination to fight corruption. We are more than ever before determined to win this war, however hard the road is. I, therefore, appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support us in this fight.

“Various policy measures already put in place to stem the tide of corrupt practices are yielding remarkable results. Some of these key reform policies include Treasury Single Account, which has realised billions of naira being saved from the maintenance fee payable to banks. N200bn has also been saved from the elimination of ghost workers in public service.”

President Buhari seized the opportunity of the broadcast to reel out some modest achievement of his government in the last three years.
He noted that the whistle-blowing policy had helped the government to recover over N500bn.

“The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, set up with a mandate to validate controls, assess risks, prune personnel costs and ensure compliance with Public Financial Management reforms, has helped to identify and remove over 52,000 ghost workers from the Federal Government’s MDAs Payroll.

“The Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme aimed at expanding tax education and awareness have offered the opportunity for tax defaulters to regularise their status in order to enjoy the amnesty of forgiveness on overdue interest, penalties and the assurance of non-prosecution or subject to tax investigations,” he added.

He continued that the Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio had been expanded with an injection of $650m so as to strengthen its investment in local infrastructure, power, health, reconstruction of the Abuja-Kano Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, East-West Road (Section V) and the Mambilla hydro-electric power project as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.”

Buhari noted that the fight against corruption, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, had resulted in the recovery of billions of naira, as well as the forfeiture of various forms of assets.

“We have retained the services of one of the world’s leading assets tracing firms to investigate and trace assets globally. This is in addition to the exploitation of provisions of existing treaties, conventions as well as bilateral agreements with multilateral bodies and nations. Nigeria has also signed Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements to ensure that there is no hiding place for fugitives.”

According to him, through prudent spending and blocking of leakages, the nation’s foreign reserves had improved to $47.5bn as of May 2018, as against $29.6bn in 2015 while inflationary rate, had consistently declined every month since January 2017.
The President commended Nigerian women for their contributions to national development and advancement of democracy.

He urged Nigerians to avoid hatred and intolerance as this would help the country to achieve its developmental objectives in an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-existence.

Other achievements listed by the President include increase food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimisation of import dependency.

The President said rice importation had been cut down by 90 percent, which he noted had a direct impact on foreign reserves, the Social Investment Programmes, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, and Conditional Cash Transfer where underprivileged Nigerians were given N5, 000 per month.

President Buhari described the commemoration of 2018 Democracy Day, which is the third anniversary of his administration, as a celebration of freedom for Nigerians.

He said the celebration was also a recommitment by his government to keep its promise to lead Nigeria into a new era of justice and prosperity.

Buhari admitted that his administration had faced challenges in the journey of three years while Nigerians stood by his government in achieving its three cardinal points.

He said, “Today marks the 19th year of our nascent democracy and the 3rd Anniversary of this administration. I am thankful to Almighty God for bringing us thus far.

“This administration came at a time that Nigerians needed change, the change we promised and the change we continue to deliver.

“We have faced a lot of challenges on this journey and Nigerians have stood by us in achieving the three cardinal points of this administration namely; security, corruption and the economy.

“The commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day is a celebration of freedom, a salute to the resilience and determination of Nigerians and a recommitment by Government to keep its promise to lead Nigeria into a new era of justice and prosperity,” he noted.      (New Telegraph)

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