The House of Representatives has approved June 12 as a national holiday with the adoption of the report on the bill.
The bill titled: “A bill for an act to amend the public holidays act, Cap. P. 40 Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 to bring the Act in tandem with the current realities and exigencies of the modern times and to declare June 12 as democracy day in Nigeria and for related matter,” was sponsored by Hons. Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau) and Kayode Oladele (APC, Ogun) .
When the bill is eventually signed into law by the president, June 12 will become public holiday to commemorate democracy, while 29 May will only be celebrated every fourth year when there is inauguration of a new president.”
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 a national holiday on June 6 this year.
One of the co-sponsors, Hon. Pwajok had argued that “There are individuals who have impacted so much on their countries, that they are celebrated with a declaration of public holidays such as George Washington of the U.S.A, (the first U.S president).
According to him, “certain events also have compelled the declaration of public holiday, such as human rights, freedom. youth, women and national reconciliation days in South Africa.
“In many countries public holidays are not fixed, as they change from year to year. Thus, the U.S.A celebrates Presidential inauguration only in the fourth year when the new President is sworn in.”
The lawmaker also said in the year, 2000, President Obasanjo declared 29 of May, each year as Democracy Day to celebrate the handover of Government by the military to elected civilians. “This is in addition to celebrating independence on October 1st each year.
“The question needs to be asked whether the mere hand over of power on May 29, 1999 is more symbolic of Democracy than the June 12th 1993 election.
“It is pertinent to remember that it was the crisis that accompanied the annulment of the June 12th 1993 election that led to not only the return of Democracy in 1999 but the concession of the Presidency to the South West in 1999.”
He said declaring June 12 as Democracy Day will remind Nigerians of the supreme price many Nigerians including M.K.O Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Bagauda Kalto, etc paid and many others that lost their jobs, properties, businesses etc.
“It will also enhance National Unity by reminding us that on June 12 th 1993 Nigerians de-emphasized religion by voting a Muslim-Muslim SDP ticket against a Musim-Christian NRC ticket,
“It will therefore remind us of the need to be more nationalistic and Democratic, It also acknowledges the organizational skills of those who plgnned that election like Professor Humphrey Nwosu etc.”
The lawmaker said though President Muhammad Buhari declared June 12 as a public holiday, in deference to the National Assembly. Which raised issues on the need to adhere to the law, there was no public holiday on June 12 2018.” he argued
It was referred to the Committee or the Whole on 22nd November, 2018 by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara after passing second reading on the floor.
In another development, the House has said that it is still working on the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) document presented to it preparatory to the formal presentation of the 2019 Budget of the Federal Government to the National Assembly.
House spokesman, Abdurazak Namdas who disclosed this yesterday informed that the lawmakers are considering the MTEF document in preparation to the receipt of the 2019 Budget of the Federal Government in a few weeks from now.