The Federal government and the Senate have unanimously concurred with the Public Holiday Act (Amendment) Bill passed by the House of Representatives, which approved June 12 as Democracy Day.
Edward Pwajok (Plateau APC) and Kayode Oladele (Ogun APC) sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives last year.
The bill, which scaled third reading in in the House in March, was passed same month. It sought for an Act to amend the Public Holidays Act to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria in view of current realities and exigencies of the modern time.
Pwajok, who led the debate on the bill in the Green Chamber House, noted that before 1979, there were separate Acts regulating public holidays.
The Plateau lawmaker recalled that in 1975, a law was enacted to repeal all state laws on public holidays and to streamline the process of declaring holidays for Nigeria.
He noted that by law, the President may declare any day a public holiday by public notice or Act through the Minister of Internal Affairs.
Pwajok added that by the schedule of the Act, some days, such as New Year’s Day, National Day, like October 1 and religious festivals, are set aside for public holidays.
The lawmaker said in 2000, the National Assembly amended the schedule to declare May 29 Democracy Day.
Noting that in May 2018 President Muhammadu Buhari announced June 12 as the new Democracy Day, Pwajok posited that for the pronouncement of to become effective, the Public Holidays Act must be amended.
Yesterday’s concurrence followed the presentation of a conference report by Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan at plenary.
Senate President Bukola Saraki put the conference report to a voice vote and it was adopted by the lawmakers.
In the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 26, last year, the current democracy day, which is May 29, was deleted and replaced with June 12.
Ahead of Buhari’s assent to the bill, the Federal Government had on Monday said the inauguration of the new administration on May 29 would be low-key.
Other activities will be shifted to June 12.
May 29 has been observed as Democracy Day since 2000. It will cease to be when the bill becomes law.
The presidential election that was held on June 12, 1993, adjudged to be the freest and fairest ever was annulled by the then Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
In the struggle for the validation of the results of the election, Chief Moshood Abiola, who won on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), was arrested and incarcerated by the military administration of the late Gen Sani Abacha.
He died in detention on July 8 during the administration of former Head of State Ge. Abdulsalami Abubakar.