Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, a human rights activist and President of Woman Arise for Change Initiative, in this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, speaks on 21 years of uninterrupted civilian administration in Nigeria
How do you feel seeing that June 12 that you and many activities fought for is now celebrated as Nigeria’s Democracy Day?
It has been my long held belief, just like every other pro-democracy Nigerian that the June 12 remains the very significant day that gave birth to the current democratic dispensation. It is therefore a welcome idea and we are glad about it.
Do you think June 12 is worth celebrating considering the present state of the nation?
Celebrating June 12 is a significant event even though the country still battles the challenges of absence of good governance, infrastructural deficiencies and poor human rights record. Nigerians had high hopes, when they massively voted for Bashorun MKO Abiola during the June 12, 1993 presidential election, but the truth remains that our people are yet to experience any form of impactful dividends of democracy, just as other fundamental ingredients of good governance, remain lacking.
Are you satisfied that the winner of the 1993 presidential election, MKO Abiola, was honoured with Nigeria’s highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) by President Muhammadu Buhari?
It was a commendable decision by the Buhari administration and this has to a considerable extent, addressed some of our points of demands over the years that we have been agitating for the recognition of June 12 as the country’s real democracy day and formal declaration of Chief Abiola as the winner of the election, but there should be a post humous declaration of Abiola as a former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
What is your take on 21 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria, considering that one of the demands of June 12 was enthronement of democracy in Nigeria?
Democracy in Nigeria is still a long walk, the destination is still far and we must collectively continue to demand for good governance in the interest of the generality of our people.
Moving forward, what is your message to Nigerians?
Our country must continue to remember the sacrifices made by those who fought for the enthronement of democracy and those who have been elected or appointed into public positions must realise that government should be about the people. June 12 should be a reminder of sacrifice and selfless leadership as symbolised by Chief MKO Abiola.