Late Moshood Abiola family has written to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for awarding the nation’s highest honour to their patriarch, MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 June 12 presidential election.
Buhari announced the award on Wednesday and also declared June 12 as Democracy Day starting from 2019, shifting the date from May 29.
In a letter to the President, dated June 6, 2018, Abiola’s son, Kola, said he was appreciating the decision on behalf of the family.
“Your Excellency, as I wrote in my letter to you on June 12, 2016, in our minds, the award was the only befitting recognition of the importance of Chief Abiola’s fight for democracy for Nigeria which culminated in 4 years incarceration/solitary confinement and decimation of his business and financial interests, before the ultimate sacrifice, being his life on July 7, 1998 at the age of 60,” he wrote.
“Your Excellency, your decision to also designate June 12 as Democracy Day rights the wrongs done to all the nation-builders and heroes that produced that produced the democratic credentials on which the Nigerian polity now thrives. We are profoundly grateful to the people from all corners of Nigeria that worked tirelessly to ensure the most free and fair elections in our nation’s history in 1993, fought valiantly for the Hope ’93 mandate given to Bashorun Abiola by the Nigerian people and died trying to protect the mandate.”
“Mr President, I thank you earnestly for heeding our plea where others before you did not, whilst conveying the assurances of my highest esteem.”
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Justice to take immediate steps to publish the Presidential Order on June 12, to be observed as Democracy Day in Nigeria in the Federal Gazette.
This information is contained in a statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Thursday.
The statement read: “Following his declaration yesterday that henceforth, June 12, be observed as Democracy Day in Nigeria and that some heroes of democracy be given national honours.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Shehu Malami to take immediate steps to publish the Presidential Order in the Federal Gazette as follows: “Chief MKO Abiola-Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (Posthumous).
“Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
“Chief Gani Fawehinmi – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (Posthumous).”
“The President also directed that this should be done so that the awards slated for June 12, 2018 can go on as planned.”
Shehu added that late foremost pro-democracy activist, Gani Fawehinmi, would receive the title of a GCON.
Meanwhile, the National Conscience Party though hailed President Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and honouring the presumed winner of the election, the late Chief Abiola, as a symbol of democracy and justice, nevertheless, the party said if Gani Fawehinmi was alive he would have rejected the award.
The Lagos State Chairman of the party, Fatai Ibu-Owo, said that NCP had nothing to celebrate in the Federal Government’s decision to give a posthumous award to its late Founder, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
“Fawehinmi would have rejected the award in view of the prevailing situation in the country, the killings, issues in the economy and unmet aspirations of the masses, for which cause he fought all his life.
“He would have asked the government to forget the award and fix the problems of the country.
“He once turned down a national award for the same reason.”