12/6/2021 — Yet another most anticipated JUNE 12
June 12 is Nigeria’s democracy day which is observed to commemorate Nigeria’s return to democracy. It marks the day power was handed over to an elected civilian government by the military power; It is a tradition that has been held annually, beginning in year 2000. Democracy Day used to be annually celebrated nationwide on May 29th; however, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on June 6, 2018 announced a change in date to June 12.
June 12 was initially observed to celebrate the annulled election of 1993. A day adjudged to be Nigeria freest and fairest election which was reportedly won by the late M.K.O Abiola. However, this was annulled by the then administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, leading the anger of most Nigerians. Therefore, Democracy day has been celebrated annually on June 12 since 2018.
However, this year’s celebration looks like one which would be met with lots of oppositions from Nigerians, who have called for a nationwide protest because of the crippling state of the Nation – insecurity, unemployment and poverty head this list.
A Call for the Protest
Since the inception of the Month of June, #June12Protest has been one of the highest trending topics on Twitter, as Nigerians in solidarity called for nationwide peaceful protest across the Nation to state their displeasure about the country’s state of insecurity and economic state of the country.
It should be recalled that former presidential aspirant and activists, Omoyele Sowore on Tuesday June 1st 2021 made a post on Twitter, “Good morning oppressed citizens! We urge you to please join us nationwide/worldwide to engage in massive street action on June 12, 2021. #June12Protest #BuhariMustGo #Revolutionnow”.
A human rights activist Deji Adeyanju also took to his Twitter handle to endorse the planned Nationwide Protest. He tweeted, “To the youths planning nationwide protests tagged #june12protest over insecurity, nepotism, bigotry. Unemployment, banditry, economic woes, human rights violations, incompetence and corruption! How can we all join?”
Former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili cited the Twitter ban as a good reason for Nigerians to join the June 12 protest against the government. She said, “Connecting-the-dots after I read something. It does indeed sound plausible that the #TwitterBanNigeria was meant to be an early preemptive strike against the #June12Protest. Ok then. Good reason now for more citizens to join that protest. A strong answer to ‘What’s Next”.
President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Sunday Asefon, also made a declaration that June 12 would be observed as a National Peaceful Protest. He stated that there is nothing worth celebrating in the country. He also called on government to order immediate and temporary closure of all schools in the North-West and North-Central until adequate security is put in place in those regions.
While many Nigerians are prepared to hit the streets, some Nigerians who are in support of a nationwide protest, however believe ‘sitting at home’, will be a better form of protest instead marching and blocking the roads. This is in respect to fears to the aftermaths of the #EndSars protest which culminated in the Lekki Shootings and looting & vandalization of properties.
There has been specific response to the nationwide protest from the Presidency; however, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba on Tuesday June 8, 2021 spoke briefly about it. He has commanded all Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police in states and the F.C.T to deal firmly with persons or groups who may use the June 12 Democracy Day as a tool to threaten internal security order. In a meeting with strategic commanders of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, the IGP stated, “The June 12 Democracy Day is days away. We are currently reviewing the security situation, with a view to ensuring a hitch-free exercise.
The IGP however urged them to remain civil with law-abiding citizens during the Democracy Day celebration.
Should Nigerians be worried?
By Law, it is the constitutional rights of citizens of a democratic Country to protest peacefully. However, over the years, protests in Nigeria haven’t always ended well, mostly resulting in loss of lives and properties. The SAP Riots of 1989, the infamous “Ali Must Go” crisis of 1978 and the June 12th 1993 protests had scores of people killed.
Fresh in the memory was the #EndSARS protest last year which also didn’t end well. The Lekki Shootings, protest hijack by hoodlum leading to looting & vandalization of properties are results of that protest. Infact, the Lagos State Government declared a curfew to ease tensions in the state.
With this proposed June 12 protests, Nigerians should be careful and follow all orders according to Law. There are already rumors and agitations of uncertainty in the peaceful state of the protest. People have been told to stack up food items and money because of the uncertainty of the outcome of the protest. The President’s speech regarding the #EndSARS Protest during his presidential talk yesterday has also promoted agitation amongst Nigerians. He believes the protest was aimed at ousting him from office.
However, with the security measures the Police Departments are putting in place, Nigerians shouldn’t be perturbed but should follow all laws and orders to ensure maximum security is observed.
Once again, Nigerians must be educated that it is their civic right as citizens of a democratic country to engage in a peaceful protest. They shouldn’t be afraid but make sure all that is done is in line with the Law. They should also prevent anyone like hoodlums from snatching the protest and using it as a tool to spread violence.
The Yoruba Nations Agitators led by Igboho’s spokesman, Olayomi Koiki had warned the Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot. We believe everyone would want a peaceful protest.
Lastly, the IGP has told all policemen in the Nation to be civil with law abiding citizens during the Democracy Day celebration. This shows maximum security have been put in place to ensure a peaceful protest, safeguarding the lives of the Nigerian citizens.