Notable individuals and groups across the country have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his decision to announce the national honour for the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola and shifting of Democracy Day cerebration to June 12 every year.
It started with the former Nigerian Senate President, who is also the Acting Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Adolphus Wabara.
Wabara said in Abuja that the action of the President took many Nigerians by surprise, adding that the President has taken a right decision even though within a political milieu.”
“First and foremost, we have to commend him for doing this. It is a decision well taken. The nation owes a lot to MKO Abiola. Without his sacrifice, many of those who are today enjoying democracy will not be there. He paid the ultimate price for us to have a country. Nothing is too big to honour his memory.”
The former Senate President, however, said that the time has come for Buhari to review the cases of all those who have been denied national honours on the altar of political considerations.
“I need to also add that the President needs to review the cases of some of us who were denied national honours due to our former offices.
“I was denied the GCON award because I opposed the Third term agenda and paid a price for that. It is a fact that President Buhari will not be there today if the toxic third term had succeeded,” he said.
Senator Wabara also asked President Buhari to ensure the free and fair scenario that made the June 12 election historic is replicated in 2019 adding that the nation expects nothing less from Buhari.
“Now that he has from the blues decided to honour Chief Abiola who won the freest and fairest election in our history, the world expects nothing less than a free, fair and credible election from Buhari come 2019.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), in its reaction, described President Buhari as a new progressive for declaring June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.
The Public Relations Officer of the students’ body, Idowu Odebunmi, who made the comment in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria today, Thursday in Akure, said: “President Buhari has proven to be a progressive and champion of people’s course which June 12 stands for.
“The properties and lives lost in the struggle of June 12 and the main centre of the people that liberated us from the shackles of the Military regime have been compensated today by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This shows the advancement of Nigeria’s democracy and it shows we have a president that appreciates free and fair election.”
This is even as the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State also praised the President for honouring the late Chief Abiola with a posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR).
The party also applauded Buhari for awarding Abiola’s running mate, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe and the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) and declaring June 12 as the Democracy Day.
In a statement in Ado-Ekiti by the Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, the APC praised Buhari for displaying a rare courage to address the nagging question on the relevance of June 12 election in Nigeria’s democratic credentials, saying the President had put to rest the pretensions and injustice inherent in the most peaceful and transparent election in the nation’s electoral process.
“Abiola is adjudged the winner and hero of our democracy for standing against the jackboots of the military dictators and paying the supreme price for being a resolute democrat.
“Abiola won the freest and fairest election without religious and tribal sentiments in the history of electoral process and democratization in Nigeria, but most unfortunately the conspiracy of the same capitalism agents that truncated Nigerians’ dream to have the late MKO Abiola as the President are now in PDP who benefited and assumed the control of our national government on the strength of June 12 symbolic history, struggle, and sacrifice.
“After profiting bountifully from the blood of MKO, they decided to selfishly and wickedly ignore that iconic national symbol and hero of democracy to give him a deserved place in history.
“Today, we are happy that another hero of democracy without tribal sentiment, who is also a progressive leader, President Buhari, has demonstrated integrity by not only honouring this fact of history, but has also done honour to the hero of democracy, who sacrificed his life to ensure that democracy establishes root in Nigeria.”
The party noted that PDP-led administration had failed Nigerians in many ways, including not recognising June 12 as the Democracy Day, adding that it was disheartening that those who benefited from the late Abiola’s sacrifices chose to impose “an inconsequential and administrative day, May 29, as the nation’s Democracy Day instead of June 12.
“June 12 is our own Democracy Day and we will surely celebrate our hero and many others who struggled and sacrificed their lives so that we can have the people’s government, which Nigerians are enjoying today.”
Meanwhile, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State has said that the honour done to Late Moshood Olawale Abiola (MKO) by President Muhammadu Buhari “is a welcome development. We thank the President, even though we know it is for political reasons, we see it as a step in the right direction.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to go to the next level and declare MKO the President of Nigeria because MKO won the election, but the then dictator, Ibrahim Babangida denied Nigerians that victory and the opportunity to have Abiola as our President.
“Having realized that they goofed, they have come out to right the wrong. Besides, you can’t keep such title of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR) without being the President of Nigeria, therefore the president should be courageous enough by declaring the results of the election and declare Abiola the winner of the June 12 poll. This is a lesson that what you do today will be reference point for others tomorrow.
“We condemn the annulment of the June12 Presidential poll results, brutality of Nigerians who protested against it, election rigging, brute force and manipulations during elections.”