Ahead of next year’s first ever nationwide commemoration of Democracy Day on June 12, all six states in the South-West geopolitical zone are today jointly commemorating the day as a public holiday for the first time since 2007.
Besides the activities in the South-West, the posthumous investiture of Abiola with the nation’s highest award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, is to hold today in Abuja.
This will mark the first time the June 12 commemoration will hold outside the South-West.
Besides Abiola, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi is also to receive a posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON, while Abiola’s running mate in the June 12, 1993 election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, will receive the award of GCON.
Ondo State became the latest state to rejoin the celebration with the declaration of a public holiday to mark the election of Chief Moshood Abiola as president in 1993.
Ondo State, which returned as All Progressives Congress, APC, government in 2017 is commemorating June 12 as a public holiday for the first time since the days Adebayo Adefarati left office in 2003.
In Lagos, activities marking the day are expected to centre at the Ikeja, Lagos, residence of Abiola where civil rights activists are expected to congregate.
Following prayers at his residence, a remodelled statue of the late politician is to be commissioned at the old Toll Gate leading into Lagos. The event is being put together by Lagos State government.
A lecture to mark the event, jointly organised by Lagos State chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, will also hold today.
It was learned, yesterday, that politicians, including those who were active and not active in the crusade for June 12, are warming up to take advantage of the popularity of the late Abiola by identifying with the celebration.
Humphrey Nwosu commends Buhari
Reacting, yesterday, to the honour of Abiola by the Federal Government, chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission, NECON, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, praised President Muhammadu Buhari for recognizing June 12 as Democracy Day and for honouring the memory of Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 election.
Prof Nwosu conducted the June 12, 1993, president election.
Nwosu, in a letter to Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, said the conferment of national honours on Chief Abiola and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe “will rekindle the national consciousness of all Nigerians for a better nation.”
The letter read: “I thank His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria for recognizing June 12 as Democracy Day and also honouring the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
“Indeed, June 12, 1993 marked a turning point in Nigeria’s tortuous journey towards a democratic polity. It is an honour to the very hard-working men and women of the defunct National Electoral Commission under my leadership at this long awaited recognition. I humbly commend this action by the President.
“Undoubtedly, the democratic system of governance is the best especially for the multi ethnic nation like ours. I thank you for building on the foundation which my team and I laboured strenuously to establish and actualise on June 12, 1993.
“Certainly, the scheduled event on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 will rekindle the national consciousness of all Nigerians for a better nation. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control I will not be present at the investiture ceremony as I am outside the country.”
Babangida was under threat —Ezeife
Meanwhile, former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said that former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, was under serious threat from the military hierarchy to annul the June 12, 1993 elections.
Ezeife, who disclosed this in an interview with
Vanguard in Abuja, also said many Nigerians were shocked over the honour from President Buhari to Abiola, alleging that many Nigerians had known the government for negative things.
He also said if Abiola could be honoured, the head of the electoral umpire that midwifed the election, adjudged to be the most credible elections in the country, should also be honoured.
Ezeife, who was a governor at the time Chief Abiola won the annulled election, also said going by the way things were going in the country, it appeared the country had not learned anything from the June 12 experience.
He said: “We have not learned any lessons from June 12. But what I am hearing now, it is as if nothing happened, anything can repeat itself many times over before we learn a lesson. It was a traumatic period, especially for those of us who were directly involved.”
On his view of the President Buhari’s gesture to Chief Abiola, he said: “I look at it as self-serving. From the kind of thing we are seeing coming from the same direction, this one stands out as odd, not like what should be expected from there.
“This is too positive to be expected from there. What normally you see is some negative actions that are not popular but this one is a good one.”
On how the 2019 elections could be improved, he said: “That is where one problem exists. Somebody conducted that election that was so good and I think it is the problem where we are thinking narrowly or about our self-interest.