OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives was on Thursday thrown into a row over the designation of June 12 as democracy day in place of May 29 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
As the House could not resolve the issue, the House mandated its committees on Justice, and Rule and Business to scrutinize the legality of the President’s action.
This was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Wale Raji (APC, Lagos) on the need to commend President Muhammadu Buhari on his declaration of June 12 and recognition of the presumed winner of the 1993 election Moshood Abiola as president-elect.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday, President Buhari announced the declaration of June 12 as democracy day and conferment of the award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola.
Leading the debate on the motion, Raji noted that June 12 is more symbolic than the May 29th currently celebrated as democracy day. He also condemned successive governments for failure to acknowledge and celebrate June 12 as the ‘real’ democracy day.
The motion also prayed the House to urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the full result of the June 12, 1993 election, and declare the winner president-elect posthumously with a view to resolving all related issues.
Speaking on the motion, Chris Azubogu (PDP, Anambra) while commending the decision of the President, said that the recognition is incomplete until the chairman of electoral body that conducted that particular election, Humphrey Nwosu, is appropriately recognized for his bravery in the face of danger.
Speaking on the legality of the declaration, Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau) cited section 2 of the Public Holiday act, that even though the gesture by the President is commendable, there would be need to amend the bill which already recognized May 29 as democracy day.
He said: “We have a public holiday act, the act mentioned May 29, we have to amend the bill first. Although June 12 is important, some of us are already working on a bill to amend the law.”
Speaking on the second leg of the prayer that seeks to declare MKO winner of the election, Pwajok said, “we cannot declare him president, of which he was not sworn in as president, as for the result, they are in public domain.”
Also speaking in support of the motion, Majeed Alabi (APC, Osun) declared the gesture of the President as handshake across the Niger, taking a diss at former President Olusegun Obasanjo for failing to make the declaration despite being major beneficiary of the struggle of June 12.
A point of order by Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) citing Public Holiday act, section 2 was ruled out of order by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who cited sub section 1 that allows the President to declare any day for public holiday.
Also speaking against the motion, Adams Jagaba (PDP, Kaduna) who recently decamped from the ruling party to the PDP, knocked the President from stopping low to level of Returning Officer, by declaring MKO as President.
The proceeding delved into rowdy session when Aliu Pategi (APC, Kwara) pointed to schedule 5 of the public holiday act, which listed 29 May as the official day for democracy day.
The rowdiness lasted for about 20 minutes as lawmakers from southwest engaged in heated argument with opponents of the motion, and singing the political jingle of SDP during the 1993 election “MKO is our man”.
After order was restored, the Speaker referred the motion to the two committees to ensure that the decision taken are not done in way that expose the House to ridicule.