The date is celebrated in Nigeria in honor of an annulled presidential election in June 12, 1993. Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, often referred to as M. K. O. Abiola, ran for the presidency in 1993, and is widely regarded as the presumed winner of the inconclusive election since no official final results were announced till date.
The election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, because of alleged evidence that they were corrupt and unfair, a development that ushered in a political crisis that led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year. In 1994, Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, an area mainly dominated by Lagos Indigenes, after he returned from a trip to solicit the support of the international community for his mandate. After declaring himself president he was declared wanted and was accused of treason and arrested on the orders of military President General Sani Abacha, who sent 200 police vehicles to bring him into custody.
Moshood Abiola was detained for four years, largely in solitary confinement with a Bible, Qur’an, and fourteen guards as companions. Abiola’s involvement in politics started at a young age. He was 19-years-old when he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1979. For the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, Abiola’s running mate was Baba Gana Kingibe. He overwhelmingly defeated his rival, Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. Abiola died on July 7, 1998 on the day he was due to be released from incarceration under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha. The official autopsy stated that Abiola died of natural causes, but Abacha’s chief security officer, Al-Mustapha alleged he was beaten to death. The election was declared Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election by national and international observers, with Abiola even winning in his Northern opponent’s home state.
The reason June 12 is a celebration of what could have been in Nigerian politics, the people of Nigeria have chosen to stand tall and see this day as a day when they all came out en mass to vote in a presidential candidate that they knew will take the country to where it was ,meant to be. Till this day June 12 is celebrated and it is a public holiday in some regions of Nigeria especially in the Western region where M.K.O Abiola is from.
If only this man that had the support of the whole nation had been allowed to lead, Nigeria truly will be a much better nation. June 12 is a day Nigeria celebrates a hero MOSHOOD KASHIMAWO OLAWALE ABIOLA.