According to a statement issued by his media aide, Kassim Afegbua, former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida called on Nigerian leaders to embrace the significance of the June 12, 1993 presidential election in order to deepen democracy in the country.
Babangida acknowledged the progress made in recent years but emphasized that there is still much work to be done to advance democracy in Nigeria. It should be noted that Babangida controversially annulled the election on June 24, 1993, despite it being widely regarded as the freest and fairest in the country.
During the election, late business mogul MKO Abiola had a significant lead over his challenger, the late Bashir Othman Tofa, based on the polls conducted by the defunct National Electoral Commission under the leadership of Prof. Humphrey Nwosu.
Following the annulment, nationwide protests erupted, resulting in the deaths of over 100 individuals at the hands of security agents.
In Babangida’s words, “The gains of June 12, 1993, presidential election have not been exploited by political leaders in succeeding elections in Nigeria. It was adjudged the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, yet politicians have blatantly ignored that beauty; the beauty of credible elections.”
He further emphasized the significance of the election by stating, “Remember, it was an election Nigerians came out en masse to choose their leaders, irrespective of their cultural/traditional and religious affiliations.”