Former labour activist and social reformer, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has reawakened hope in those of them who fought and got jailed or wounded for the actualization of the June 12 Presidential election which late MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won.
Speaking to news men today, Tuesday on the sideline of the national honours bestowed on late Abiola and other June 12 heroes by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Kokori, a onetime national secretary of NUPENG, confessed that Buhari “has a great soul.”
“If this (honour) is coming 25 years later, it means one day your country will remember you because some of us felt when we came out of Abacha’s gulag and we were not recognized, I just felt, what sort of country is this?
“Like my personal experience as one of the most famous prisoner of conscience in the world, I saw that my country did not even appreciate the four years I spent in one of the worst cells in the world. And we did all these for our country and the country did not recognize us.
“So, now we are happy and we are very grateful to our President; the least president we expected who should have done this, Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thought people like Obasanjo should have done that for us long time ago. There was so much pressure not Muhammadu Buhari; we least expected it. So in doing it for us, he has a great soul and we appreciate it.”
Kokori, who was later appointed by President Buhari as Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, was a member of NADECO who paid the price for democracy. He was incarcerated by late Head of State, General Sani Abacha because he refused to call off a nationwide strike that crippled the Nigerian economy over Abiola’s June 12 struggle.
He is a native of Ovu, Agbon Kingdom of Delta State.
He attended Urhobo College and Kings College Lagos. He is a graduate of the University of Ibadan.