Former President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and human rights lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, yesterday, said declaring June 12 as the new date for the celebration of Democracy Day in Nigeria was illegal, but he would not challenge it because it was a popular declaration.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently declared the new date as against May 29, on which Nigeria had celebrated Democracy Day since 1999.
Buhari made the declaration in honour of Moshood Abiola, who won the presidential election on that date in 1993, but was annulled by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida(retd).
President Buhari also posthumously conferred the highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, on Abiola at a ceremony last week Tuesday in Abuja.
Dr. Agbakoba was among the few Nigerians invited to that ceremony.
Agbakoba, however, made his position on the legality of the date known in an interview in Lagos, saying “I think that the declaration is illegal, but I do not think that it is important.
“What is important is that there is a declaration that is popular. So that is how we will take it. I know it is illegal, but I don’t feel aggrieved. I will not go to court to challenge the declaration; those who feel aggrieved can go to court and challenge it. But, I know that the late Abiola’s family deserves the recognition.”
…on presidential aspirants
Meanwhile, Agbakoba also urged presidential aspirants to emulate the legacies of the late Moshood Abiola to enthrone good governance in 2019 and beyond.
His words: “Our presidential aspirants in the coming 2019 elections should be purposeful and think about the electorate like the late Abiola. When you are running for an office, you are running to carry the burden of the people. It is like becoming the father of the house.
“Many of these politicians often forget why they go there and do away with all their campaign promises. So it is very simple; to be a politician, all you need to do is to remember the people that voted you to power, that is all. If you do that, you will find that wherever you go, you will be honoured.
“When MKO was alive, he was remarkable because he listened and attended to the yearnings of the people. That is why we are honouring him, even in death.
“A politician must remember his goal by providing roads, health-care, education and basic amenities for the people.
“The way forward in Nigeria is to get a good leader to rule this country.”