A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola, on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to work towards making June 12 the inauguration day of future presidents and state governors.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and recognition of the late MKO Abiola were good steps to the realisation of true democracy in Nigeria.
Babalola made his position known in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
“To attain true democracy which is our hope, the government should now go further and make June 12 the day for the inauguration of all future presidents and governors.
“Secondly, the government is advised to follow up the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day with positive directives to restructure the country,” he said.
Babalola asked that the 1999 constitution, which he said was bequeathed to the country by the military, should be replaced with what he called a true federal constitution similar to the 1960 Independence Constitution and the 1963 Republican Constitution.
He added, “The pronouncement of President Buhari in 2018 (25 years after) declaring Chief MKO Abiola as the winner of the election, June 12 as Democracy Day and honouring him with GCFR are no doubt good steps in the right direction.
“But the declaration does not ipso facto amount to return of true democracy which we need in Nigeria for which M.K.O Abiola and others made huge sacrifices.
“I see those actions by President Buhari only as important milestones in our march to attain true democracy.”
Babalola, who said Nigeria lost the rare opportunity of installing Abiola as the President, said happenings in the nation at present, were confirmation of his statement during the June 12, 1993 debacle that “we are at the beginning of a journey, the end of which nobody knows.”
The present happenings, the elder statesman said, included “insecurity, kidnapping, unemployment, unpaid salaries and allowances, transactional leadership in the legislative houses, ineffective local governments and poor infrastructure.
“We lost the rare opportunity of installing Chief Abiola, a transformational leader as the President. Indeed Chief Abiola possessed all the qualities best suited to unify Nigeria as a nation from a country of hundreds of nations.
“Last year, President Buhari revisited the June 12,1993 election and posthumously declared Chief Abiola as the winner of the election and went further to honour him with GCFR, also posthumously. In addition, he declared June 12 as Democracy Day.
“To achieve his intention of making June 12 truly the Democracy Day, he announced on May 29, 2019 that he would deliver his inauguration speech on June 12, 2019. My immediate reaction then was that the declaration was not only proper and appropriate, but highly commendable.
“When the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Abubakar Bashir Wali of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division, was to hear Chief MKO Abiola’s appeal on the legality or otherwise of the annulment of the presidential election which was won by him, Chief Philip Umeadi, SAN, on behalf of the Federal Government, tendered a gazette to back up the annulment.
“The court had no alternative but to rule that on the basis of the gazette, the June 12, 1993 presidential election had been annulled.
“In my submission, I made the following statement which in large measure has become prophetic today. ‘Your Lordships, this is a sad day for the judiciary in this country. We are at the beginning of a journey, the end of which nobody knows.’
“Even with the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, we are not at the end of the journey.”