Obasanjo, Jonathan, Gowon, other former leaders shun ‘Democracy Day’ ceremony

Former Nigerian heads of state and presidents were absent at the venue of 2019 Democracy Day celebrations on Wednesday.

The former leaders including Messers Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, among others, were absent at the event which held at Eagles’ Square in Abuja.

Former military leaders Messers Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalam Abubakar were also absent.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier declared June 12 Nigeria’s Democracy Day. The inaugural celebration, which took place Wednesday, had in attendance numerous pro-June 12 supporters.

The government’s decision was in recognition of the place of late Moshood Abiola in Nigeria’s democratic history. Mr Abiola is believed to have won the June 12 1993 elections, widely adjudged Nigeria’s freest election in history.

The election was however annulled by Babangida.

Upon return to democracy in 1999, May 29 was adopted as Nigeria’s Democracy Day as it was the day Obasanjo took over the reins of power from Abubakar.

Between 1999 and 2007 when Obasanjo held sway as president, federal government did not recognise June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, amidst calls from June 12 supporters and civil society organisations.

Obasanjo was absent at the event on Wednesday. A strong critic of Buhari, the former president had thrown his weight behind Atiku Abubakar of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of 2019 general elections.

Gowon on his part was also absent on Wednesday although he had earlier attended the May 29 swearing-in ceremony held last month.

No reasons have been given for the conspicuous absent of the former leaders.



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