By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, June 12, 2019
No fewer than 11 African leaders attended the ceremonies for the maiden celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria on Wednesday.
Among them were President Idris Deby of Republic of Chad; President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President George Weah of Liberia; President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.
Others were President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Adama Barrow of The Gambia and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic as well as the Prime Minister of Uganda, Mr Ruhakana Rugunda,
On arrival at Eagle Square, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari went round to have a handshake with each of the leaders and representatives of other world leaders represented at the ceremony.
Buhari arrived at the venue at 10.05 a.m., watched the parade mounted by members of the Nigeria Armed Forces and Nigeria Police Force before being driven round the arena in an open vehicle.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The Federal Government marked Democracy Day on June 12 for the first time after the president signed the law to commemorate the 1993 Presidential Election considered to be the freest and most credible poll in Nigeria.
The election which the late MKO Abiola won as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, against Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention, NRC, was cancelled by the military government led by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
As a mark of honour for Abiola, the president re-named Abuja National Stadium MKO Abiola National Stadium in addition to having posthumously honoured him in 2018 with the highest national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.
In the past 19 years, the country had marked May 29, which was the date the military handed over power to civilians, as Democracy Day.