“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day. Therefore, government has decided to award, posthumously, the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled elections.
“His running mate as vice president, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and indeed for democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi is to be awarded the GCON.
“The investiture will take place on Tuesday June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a national public holiday in celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.”
Reacting, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spokesman for Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, said: “Even though we understand that election season is near and the government is doing everything possible to woo the people to its side, the fact President Buhari was humble enough to declare June 12 as Democracy Day is a welcome development.”
The Leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, said: “I think Abiola deserves more than this.”
Asked about the timeliness, he said: “This one is too late. Buhari is only trying to please Nigerians because he knew his popularity has waned, as the next general election is approaching.
“On the other hand, what is Buhari looking at in the last three years since he became president, considering the fact that Abiola died almost 20 years ago, and we have also been shouting that he (Abiola) should be honoured.”
President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, said the government’s proclamation is victory for all who participated in the pro-democracy struggle.
He, however, questioned the essence, calling on the administration to sit up.
He added: “Mere declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day is not enough. Abiola should be declared president posthumously and all necessary entitlements given to his family.
The Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams, noted: “This is one of the best decisions President Buhari has taken since he came to power three years ago. But one more thing we demand from him before the 2019 general election is the restructuring of Nigeria to true federalism. If Mr President can be bold enough to do this, his name would be written in gold in the nation’s history.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “It is a sign of political desperation for President Buhari to seek to use Chief Abiola’s name as a tool to sway Nigerians in less than 12 months to an election where he (Buhari) is seeking a second term.
”It is shocking that the respectable grave of Abiola can be dishonoured by granting a posthumous award to him along with someone who denounced the June 12 mandate and preferred the company of his (Abiola’s) traducers.
“If President Buhari genuinely wants to honour Chief Abiola, he should do so by ending all anti-democratic proclivities of his administration and allow for the rule of law and respect for our constitution.
“The PDP, therefore, urges President Buhari to shed his desperate actions in his quest to win the 2019 presidential election, as Nigerians can no longer be deceived by such antics.”