Governments of South-west states have declared June 12 as a public holiday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the annulled 1993 Presidential election adjudged to have been won by late M.K.O Abiola.
The states include Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states.
Federal government on Wednesday announced that June 12 would become a national holiday for the celebration of democracy day starting from 2019, although the day had always been public holidays in the South west.
In Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor, said the recent decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to declare June 12 as the new democracy day would ensure that Mr Abiola and other martyrs of democracy who laid down their lives in the struggle to entrench good governance did not do so in vain.
“No matter how long you try to hide history, history will always reveal itself with a true platform,” Ambode said in a statement signed by Mr Tunji Bello, secretary to the state government.
“So, we know that is one very important singular step as we go forward to build an enduring democracy. And for all democrats in this country, we are excited that we are moving in the right direction.
“It also affirms that Nigeria can get it right if we begin to put things in the right perspective and work for the general good of the greater number of people. That is the true essence of democracy.
“For us in Lagos, June 12 is not just a day to remember, it is a rallying point for those of us in service that we must continuously strive to entrench true democracy and good governance which is what Abiola totally exemplified.”
In Ogun, the state government announced that June 12 would be a work-free day to enable residents mark the Democracy Day and celebrate the recent conferment of a posthumous national honour on Abiola.
In Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor, said day would be celebrated with a town hall assembly at International Culture and Events Centre (The Dome) in Akure.
“All civil servants, market women, artisans, politicians, clergymen, students and Ondo State residents from all walks of life are invited to be part of the historic gathering in honour of Abiola, winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election,” the governor said in a statement signed by Mr Yemi Olowolabi.
“It promises to be a riveting event with extensive focus on June 12: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
The town hall assembly, the statement said, would be anchored by Mr Kayode Fayemi, a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and former Governor of Ekiti State.
Other members of the panel of discussants at the special Assembly include Mr Dare Babarinsa, founding Executive Editor of TELL Magazine; Mr Odia Ofeimun, renowned Poet; and Mr Ifeanyi Odili, National Secretary of Campaign for Democracy amongst other pro-democracy activists.
In Osun, the government said the public holiday is to mark democracy day in the state.
Mr Obawale Adebisi, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said in a statement on Saturday that the public holiday was in line with a policy of the state to observe June 12 as democracy day every year.
“Mr Aregbesola’s stance on June 12 as democracy day had been justified by Buhari’s declaration of the day as Nigeria’s democracy day instead of May 29,” Adebisi said.
“We also commend the President for honouring Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election with a posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
“The state government of Osun commends the President on this righteous step of honouring June 12 and key players of the 1993 presidential election, 25 years after.
“The Government of the State of Osun has, therefore, declared Tuesday, June 12 a public holiday.”
In Ekiti, Governor Ayo Fayose announced via his official Twitter handle that the state would continue in its tradition of honouring Mr Abiola with a public holiday.
“MKO Abiola is worthy to be honoured and we in Ekiti honoured him with a public holiday on June 12, 2017, we will do it again this year. However, the greatest honour anyone can bestow on MKO Abiola is total respect for the rule of law and conduct of free,fair & credible elections.”
In Oyo State, Mr Bolaji Tunji, media assistant to Governor Abiola Ajimobi said the state would also declare June 12 a public holiday.
“We’ve already decided on that, the only thing left is to make the announcement,” Tunji said last night.