President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday warned that Nigerians would not again tolerate the subversion of justice and annulment of election that culminated in the struggles for the actualisation of the mandate of Chief Moshood Kolawole Abiola, who was elected Nigeria’s president on June 12, 1993 but never sworn into office.
Speaking at the conferment of the posthumous national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola at the Aso Rock Villa, Buhari also on behalf of the government and nation, tendered an apology to the late politician’s family and all those who lost their lives or suffered various forms of indignities in the course of fighting to uphold his presidential mandate.
The President also conferred the honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on Abiola’s then running mate, Babagana Kingibe; and same GCON, but posthumously, on late human rights activist, who also fought for actualization of June 12 mandate, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Buhari said his decision to recognize the major actors of the struggle 25 years after, was not meant to open old wounds but to right the wrongs of the past in national interests and aid the healing and reconciliation processes in the aftermath of the June 12 debacle.
He urged all Nigerians, irrespective of political or ethnic coloration, to accept the recognition in good faith, as the “intention is to bury the negative sides of June 12”; and to bear in mind that the ideals of June 12 will be nurtured for future generations.
At the President’s request, the audience observed one minute silence in memory of Abiola, Fawehinmi and others who died in the struggle for the actualization of June12.
Invited but prominently absent at the ceremony were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who excused himself that he was in Norway for a food conference. He had famously declare that Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed.
Former military president Ibrahim Babangida, excused himself on health grounds. He annulled the June 12 presidential election.
Professor Humphrey Nwosu, also explained that he was abroad and the notice was too short. He was the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), which conducted the June 12 election, adjudged Nigeria’s freest and fairest election.
They however, all wished the president success in the ceremony.
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