FG Immortalises Abiola; June 12 Now Democracy Day

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FG Immortalises Abiola; June 12 Now Democracy Day

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday proclaimed June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day to be celebrated as a public holiday from next year in commemoration of the momentous June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola.

Chief Abiola is also to be post-humously honoured with the nation’s highest award, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR conferred on all Presidents/Heads of State.

Besides, Buhari also announced that late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi will also be awarded the country’s second highest award of the Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON in honour of his role towards actualising the June 12 presidential election.

Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe will also get a GCON award.

The development, in an unprecedented press statement personally signed by President Buhari was circulated on Twitter on the President’s twitter handle and re-tweeted by Special Assistant on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

The announcements were immediately welcomed across the polity. In the special press statement, Buhari said: “For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 1st, 1979.

“But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12th, 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even the October 1st.

“June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then Military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.

“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12th will be celebrated as Democracy Day. Therefore, Government has decided to award post-humously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12th, 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 12th election and indeed for Democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is to be awarded a GCON posthumously.

“The commemoration and investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.” The announcement was received with much excitement across the country yesterday from friends and family of the late Abiola.

His daughter, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, said: ‘’I am very satisfied with this news, and I can’t explain how happy I am. This has just validated the victory of my father. He didn’t just fight for democracy alone; he fought for Nigeria. May 29 was never the Democracy Day; it’s June 12. And President Buhari has just shown that he is an honourable man. This development has brought to life the significance of June 12. I am really appreciative of him for honouring my father because this is the kind of recognition he truly deserves.”

Welcoming the decision, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said that President Buhari has shown himself to be inclined to the desires of Nigerians and has done the right thing.

We’ve waited for this—Mohammed Fawehinmi “It is a welcome development. This is what we have been waiting for over the years. Good Nigerians have made several calls for Chief M K O Abiola to be recognised as a Nigerian President. For this government to have done this, it is a welcome gesture. It is a good news that M K O Abiola is going to be awarded GCFR honour and Babagana Kingibe to be awarded GCON, It is clear that Abiola was elected the president of this country, the mere fact that he was not sworn in does not mean he was not elected. This has vindicated Abiola.