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5 Things You Should Know About the Significance of May 29 in Nigeria

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General Abudulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo during the May 29, 1999 Swearing-in/Democracy Day

Like every other country in the world, Nigeria celebrates its significant dates to commemorate historical happenings, people or events from the past. Such of those dates is October 1st, which marks the day Nigeria became an independent country, moving away from colonial rule. May 29 is one of those dates. “This day, May 29, 1999, must rank second only to October 1, 1960,” General Abdulsalam Abubakar, Nigeria’s outgoing Head Of State at the time, said as he handed over power to a civilian government to be led by Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military general.

Here’s why the date May 29 is significant in Nigeria:

  • May 29 recognises as the day the military handed over power back to a civilian government in 1999 to start Nigeria’s 4th republic.
  • It was symbolised by the swearing-in of Nigeria’s first president-elect in the 4th republic, Olusegun Obasanjo, and was designated as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
  • As a continual process, May 29 marks the celebration of Nigeria’s democracy, as well as the swearing-in of Nigeria’s democratically elected leaders on an election year.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari, on June 6, 2018, changed Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 to commemorate MKO Abiola’s democratic election in 1993.
  • While it’s no longer Nigeria’s Democracy Day, it remains the day a democratically elected president or governor will hand over power to the next administration or retain their seat if they are serving a second tenure. Also notable is that some states have their election cycle different from the norm due to court judgements removing their seating governors at one point or the other.

It should be noted that the members of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) who were elected during the last general elections will be inaugurated on June 13, two days after the expiration of the tenure of previous members.

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