MKO Abiola: Reps want June 12 declared Democracy Day in Nigeria

* Reps want Nigeria’s highest honour GCFR for MKO Abiola

The House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to honour the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, with a befitting recognition.

The House specifically resolved that the country’s highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic should be conferred posthumously on the late politician, “for his unprecedented achievements, contributions and sacrifice to the unity, peace, progress and development of Nigeria, Africa and the world.”

The motion seeking recognition for Abiola was moved by a member from Jigawa State, Mr. Sani Zorro.

Zorro, a former National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, recalled that though Abiola won the election, he was denied victory by “retrogressive forces in conspiracy with agents of destabilisation.”

He argued that honouring Abiola was the only way the government could admit that his sacrifice for democracy was not in vain.

Zorro urged President Muhammadu Buhari to cash in on the opportunity to honour Abiola and leave a legacy that Nigerians would forever appreciate him (Buhari) for.

He noted that Buhari enjoyed the same popularity in 2015 as Abiola did when he won the presidential poll in 1993.

Zorro added, “Abiola scored eight million votes out of 14m — half of the total votes.

“They share so much in common in terms of popularity and widespread appeal.”

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He also noted that Buhari could choose to be as magnanimous as former President Shehu Shagari, who conferred the GCFR on the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1979, despite their political differences.

Many members lashed out at former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), over his decision to cancel the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was adjudged to be the “freest and most credible” in the history of the country.

They also called for the recognition of June 12 as the actual Democracy Day in the country and not May 29.

One of the lawmakers, Mr. Anayo Nnebe, argued that whatever the reasons Babangida gave to explain his action were not justifiable.

Nnebe added, “Although IBB has given his reasons, as he spoke recently, the fact remains that he annulled a credible election.

“Abiola clearly won the election and he should have been sworn in as the President.

“No explanations can change the fact that the winner of an election was denied his victory.”

He added that the reasons was not unconnected with the fear in the military circles that Abiola, being a wealthy and influential personality, would be beyond the control of the military and other political interests.

Nnebe echoed the views of members that June 12 should be declared the “actual Democracy Day in Nigeria and not May 29.”

He added that it was unfortunate that only the South-West states gave June 12 adequate recognition.

Nnebe said June 12 should be observed as a “national” and “not regional” holiday in Nigeria.

Members passed the resolution in a majority voice vote at the session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

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