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Would May 29th Usher in Peace and Social Justice in Nigeria?

May 29th was oftentimes a school holiday in Nigeria while I was growing up, my father would passionately attempt to explain ‘Democracy Day’ to a 7-year-old inquisitive girl as the day the military rulers of the country handed over power to a civilian government. It was only around the mid-2000s it began to mean something, then in 2018, President Buhari made the decision to move Nigeria's Democracy Day, traditionally celebrated May 29th, to June 12th to honour Moshood Abiola the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12th 1993 presidential election. 

Fast-forward to May 29th 2023 – 7 year-olds of today will receive vigorous explanations from parents of this generation different from mine. 

One thing has now become certain – that Nigeria will swear in a new president on this immortal day and will then, collectively await the good fortune or consequence of this decision.

Historically, Nigerian elections are a spectacle, however, the 2023 general election was a complete circus with global attention attracted by the ever-zealous Nigerian youth who acquired a greater interest in electoral processes post-EndSARS.

In an unfortunate twist of events, unrewarding of the youthful intensity, the 2023 election produced the most controversial and underwhelming certificate of return in recent times. 

While global attention was focused on Nigeria, it did not take long for the true underbelly of the nation’s situation, usually underreported by global media, to reveal itself. 

It was realised that the country has been grappling with a complex myriad and cocktail of insecurity challenges from the Boko Haram and Islamic State terroristic insurgency, the Farmer-Herder crisis, Religious persecution, blasphemy charges, ethnic intercommunal clashes, secessionist activities, kidnappings, Banditry, human rights abuses, impunity and social injustices in its various chameleonic forms. These all raise a very pertinent question: Will Nigeria’s incoming administration improve security and social justice for all?

The short answer is yes, the long answer is if they will it. 

Of the many factors that precede achieving social justice, absolute transparency and accountability take the lead. To determine if the incoming administration led by Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the potential to uphold social justice and stability will very much depend on its commitment to absolute transparency to the state and to its people.

It will be biased not to mention the controversy surrounding the election (dubbed selection) of the presidential and some gubernatorial elections. The process was said to be lacking in merit which has cast doubt on the candidates’ ability to adopt transparency or accountability. Further down, on May 5th 2023, the opposition parties- the Labour Party Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed a motion before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) requesting a live broadcast of the court proceedings. The incoming administration- the APC countered the motion praying the court to rule against live broadcasts.  The reason for this is unclear, raising concerns around the likelihood that the incoming administration will submit to accountability and transparency in the fight against the various elements of insecurity. 

Several molecular factors hinder the realization of peace and social justice in Nigeria including corruption, ethnic tensions, economic disparities, and security concerns. 

While corruption undermines governance and equality, ethnic tensions and economic disparities divide communities frustrating the government’s efforts and culminating in several cadres of social injustice and security concerns.  

Addressing these challenges requires committed efforts to combat corruption, promote inclusivity, reduce economic disparities, and enhance security measures. 

We are hopeful that collaborative actions from the government, civil societies and the general public are crucial to overcome these obstacles and foster peace and social justice in Nigeria. The people must have absolute faith in the government. 


May 29th can serve as a starting point to reinforce commitments to peace and social justice from the government and the people. 


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