Wednesday 12 June 2024


The June 12, 1993 election has remained a significant and emotional chapter in Nigeria's history. It is remembered as the fairest and most peaceful election Nigeria ever conducted. But what really happened then?

Nigeria had experienced series of military takeovers starting with the coup on Jan 15, 1966 coup. On August 27, 1985, Nigeria came under another military junta,  led by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB). Babangida promised to restore Democracy in the country. He scheduled presidential elections for June 12, 1993. To facilitate this, two political parties were created: the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC). Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, a respected businessman and philanthropist, ran under the SDP, while Bashir Tofa was the candidate for the NRC.

On June 12, 1993, Nigerians across the nation went to the polls in an election widely regarded as free, fair, and peaceful. The high voter turnout reflected a strong sense of hope and unity among the people. Abiola, who had widespread support across various regions and ethnic groups, was set to win by a large margin.

Despite the peaceful conduct of the election and the clear indication that Abiola was winning, the military government, led by Babangida, annulled the results on June 23, 1993. The official reason given was allegations of electoral irregularities, but many believe it was due to internal power struggles and fear of losing control.

The annulment sparked widespread protests and civil unrest across Nigeria. Nigerians from all walks of life demanded that the election results be upheld and that Abiola be declared the winner. This created a political crisis, with significant pressure from both local and international communities for the military to respect the will of the people.

The annulment led to a prolonged period of political instability. Babangida eventually resigned in August 1993, handing over power to an interim national government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan. However, Shonekan's government was short-lived, as General Sani Abacha seized power in a coup in November 1993.

Abiola continued to fight for his mandate, bravely declaring himself president in 1994. He was subsequently arrested and detained by the Abacha regime, enduring imprisonment until his untimely death under suspicious circumstances on July 7, 1998, shortly after Abacha's own death.

In 2018, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the then president officially moved Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 to highlight the election's significance. Today, June 12 is celebrated as Democracy Day in Nigeria, honoring the democratic ideals and sacrifices of the 1993 election.

#democracy #June12 #MKOAbiola #election #Babangida #military #malawicichlids

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