It is evident through history that the talk about democracy didn't just start today, it is an idea that has a firm hand tightened to the pole of colonialism but only became a reality after the military era. Like it is said, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it". The fight for democracy was on for a long before it became a part of our nation; though what we are currently fighting for present is democracy consolidation, as precedents gotten from history have been said to counter true democracy. 

What then is democracy? why is democracy the yawn of all European nations? how is democracy practiced? when is a nation said to be a democracy? has there ever been a true democracy? which criteria are used to judge democracy as true or false? is there hybrid democracy? These and many more questions the complexity of the term democracy, in its denotative and connotative sense, in its descriptive and prescriptive comprehension.

Ideologically Abraham Lincoln an American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people." With this precise definition, we will not linger anymore by going directly to the context of democracy in Nigeria.

When having a discourse on democracy, it should be noted that Nigeria has passed through three-phase, the first phase is the Colonialism phase (1914-1960), the post-colonial/independence phase (1960-1999), and lastly, the post-military era 1999 till date.

During the colonial phase, the nation was ruled by a few dictators, governance was not in the hands of the indigenous people of Nigeria, decisions were made by the British who were the colonial Masters at the time, and homage is paid to the crown of her imperial royal majesty, the Queen; this era was marked with autocratic rule.

After independence, the strive for democracy was thwarted by ideological differences which were spearheaded by the political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra due to ethnoreligious violence and anti-Igbo pogroms in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria.

The war known as the Nigeria Civil war or Biafra was started on July 6, 1967 – January 13, 1970. Aftermath the war, the Federal Government led by Yakubu Gowon (rtd)  declared the war as "no Victor, no vanquished".

Starting from 1966 till 1999 coups and a counter-coup by the military flourished. The focal point of the talk for democracy started in 1993 when the June 12 election crowned Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola a businessman, publisher, and politician under the umbrella of SDP against Bashir Tofa, NRC was annulled by the then military Head of State Ibrahim Babangida. Unfortunately despite the protest and national cry, justice was not restored to the acclaimed winner of the June 12 election which analyst has with time pronounced as the fairest election ever.

The call for democracy started heating up and there was a massive protest for justice to be served in the interest of all; but retiring at the height of the clamor, Babangida appointed Chief Ernest Shonekan as leader of an Interim National Government. Ernest Shonekan government was later toppled by General Sani Abacha who ruled as the most vicious military dictator. 

It is clear that Nigeria gained independence far back in 1960, but it was until the aftermath of June 12, 1993, that there was a national cry for democracy. Hence, MKO Abiola might be said to have directed or indirectly brought about democracy. But without the mention of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, who was the wife of MKO Abiola and a Nigeria pro-democracy campaigner, this piece will be dented.

She was assassinated due to her outspokenness for democracy. Another big name in the fight for democracy was Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu, who has been the National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC ) since its formation and he is presently the flagbearer of the party for the 2023 Presidential Election.

After dictator Sani Abacha dissolved the Senate in 1993, Tinubu become activist campaigning for the return of democracy as a part of the National Democratic Coalition movement. In 1994, Tinubu was forced into exiled but returned after Abacha's 1998 death triggered the beginning of the transition to the Fourth Republic.

The fight for democracy is still ongoing, as our democracy has been judged from time to time, it is important to know that Democracy on paper is not enough, what we need at this time is to consolidate democracy. Today is Abiola day, today is June 12 and today is Democracy day. In the History of Nigeria, June 12 stands out as a day when the whole country stood up to fight for their right.

The light of democracy brought forth by these struggles that became fruitful in 1999 to date should not be extinguished, consolidation should be the next goal. I believe that, at the end of it all, sustainable development shall suffice.

To this end, the Nigeria Phoenix club wishes you a Happy Democracy Day!

Happy Democracy Day!

God Bless Nigeria.

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