President Muhammadu Buhari has described the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election by the Ibrahim Babangida military government as a grievous injury to the unity of, and peace in Nigeria.
The President, who formally conferred on the winner of that election, late MKO Abiola a posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and others today,Tuesday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the decision to honour the heroes of June 12 is not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong.
“Our decision to recognize and honour June 12 and its actors is in the national interest. It is aimed at setting national healing process and reconciliation of the 25 year festering wound caused by the annulment of the June 12th elections. I earnestly invite all Nigerians across all our national divide to accept it in good faith.
“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12, the side of ill-feelings, hate, frustrations and agony. What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive side of June 12: the June 12, which restates democracy and freedom; the June 12 that overcome our various divide and the June 12 that produced unity and National cohesion. This is the June 12 we are celebrating today and we will nurture it to our next generation.”
President Buhari recalled that Nigerians of their own free will voted for Late Chief MKO Abiola and Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, the Presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1993 elections.
He regretted that the government of Babangida (self styled military President) “inexplicably cancelled the elections when it was clear who were going to be the winners.
Buhari said that while his government could not rewind the past, it can at least, assuage the feelings of grieve and recognize that a wrong had been committed and resolve to stand firm now and in the future for the sanctity of free elections.
According to the President, Nigerians would no longer tolerate such perversion of justice, even as he said that the posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.
“Accordingly, on behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of Late MKO Abiola, who got the highest votes and to those that lost their loved ones in the cause of June 12 struggle.”
The President led the top leaders in the June 12 struggle and government functionaries at the occasion to observe a minute silence in honour of the memory of Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi as well as all those who lost their lives in the struggle of June 12 1993.