It’s June 12, Nigeria’s Democracy Day, and citizens are peacefully marching in various parts of the country to demand good governance from elected officials.
Civil society organisations and human rights activists called for a nationwide protest against the Muhammadu Buhari regime which faces several allegations of human right violations, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, sheer incompetence, state terrorism among others.
In the past, Democracy Day was fixed for May 29 — the day new presidents are sworn into office. But Buhari moved it to June 12 in honour of MKO Abiola who died in government custody years after the military annulled his election victory.
Buhari may have honoured MKO Abiola and posthumously named him Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), but the president, critics say, remains an enemy of democratic freedoms.
Activists point to Buhari’s history of sacking an elected government and seizing power as a military dictator. They also accuse the president, who recently banned social media platform Twitter, of acting like a tyrant even after being handed the current democratic mandate.
Buhari is also notorious for waging war on the media and attacking citizens’ right to free speech. Under Buhari, the military, on October 20, 2020, stormed Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos and opened fire on protesters who were waving the Nigerian flag while demanding an end to police brutality. At least 99 people may have been killed in the chaos that followed despite the government’s recalcitrant denial. And this is not the only case against the administration.
Demonstrators are using this year’s June 12 celebration to demand sanity or resignation from the regime.
According to various publicity posters, the protesters are making these 14 demands:
• Abolish 1999 constitution
• End terrorism
• End banditry
• Isa Pantami must go (Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who expressed sympathy for terrorists)
• Free all detained activists
• End insecurity
• Justice for all EndSARS victims
• Free Kogi2 (Two anti-President Muhammadu Buhari protesters – Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka – who are being detained in Kogi State)
• Buhari Must Go (the president should resign)
• Revert electricity tariffs
• End ASUP (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics) strike
• Revert fuel price
• Revert party deregistration
• Free Nicholas Mbah, a protester who was arrested in 2020 and, according to activists, falsely labelled an armed robber