Democracy Day (Nigeria)

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Democracy Day is a public holiday in Nigeria. It is held annually on 29 May. This public holiday commemorates the restoration of democracy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when the newly elected Olusegun Obasanjo took office as the President of Nigeria, ending the multiple decades of military rule that began in 1966 and had been interrupted only by a brief period of democracy from 1979 to 1983.

Background[edit]

After gaining independence in 1960 from Great Britain, Nigeria fell prey to civil war and the first of many military coups in 1966. Democracy was briefly restored from 1979 to 1983, but for most of its independent history, Nigeria was ruled by a series of military juntas. The last major military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, died suddenly in 1998. His successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar promised a transition to democracy, and accordingly a new constitution was adopted on May 5th, 1999. Elections were held and retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, who had previously governed Nigeria as a military ruler, was elected the new president.

The end of military rule brought about a new era of regular elections as well as the return of civil liberties, free press and an end to arbitrary arrests and torture, although human rights violations still occur regularly. Nigeria also began a long campaign against the bureaucratic and military corruption that had paralysed its economy and severely tarnished its international reputation.

See also[edit]