On honouring MKO Abiola and June 12
As a member of NADECO in its heyday when it was most dangerous to be a member, June 6 marked the fulfilment of dreams, and the achievement of visions. On that day, President Mohammed Buhari recognised the validity of the June 12 1993 Presidential elections, declared Chief MKO Abiola as the winner of that election, conferred national honours on MKO Abiola, his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, the human rights activist Gani Fawehinmi and declared June 12 democracy day.
I recognised how momentous that decision was and I not only welcome the decision, I thank President Buhari for the decision,
President Buhari has addressed some of the wounds inflicted on this nation and applied healing balm on these wounds. Only those who lost family members, those imprisoned and detained or who had family members imprisoned and detained, those tortured and those driven into exile had felt the need for some measure of closure. That closure was achieved on January 6 by the executive order issued by President Buhari.
I appeal to the President to remember other Nigerians who also played active roles in the struggle. People like Dan Suleiman, Ndubisi Kanu, Frank Kokori, John Oyegun, Dr. Akingba, Bagauda Kaltho and others deserve national honours in future exercises.
The declaration of June 12 as democracy day is a victory for all Nigerians and not just for those who voted for MKO Abiola. The voting pattern on June 12 1993 sealed the cleavages that have bedevilled Nigeria since the unification by Lugard. The annulment of the election results reopened and deepened those cleavages. I recognise and accept that the June 6 Presidential Executive Order has applied some balm on these cleavages and therefore should be welcomed as a national rather than a sectional victory.
The courage of the President in tackling this issue should be acknowledged. As the Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference, I recall that when the issue of June 12 was raised, it almost tore the Conference apart. I also recall that the issue of June 12 had been raised in different sessions of the National Assembly without resolution. That it took President Buhari to resolve this issue is a manifestation of what social scientists call the Nixon-China syndrome. It took a rabid anti-communist like Richard Nixon to extend diplomatic relations to China without the fear of being labelled a communist. It has taken a Buhari, who nobody can accuse of pandering to the South and who is trusted by the North to do justice to June 12.
The legality of the executive order, which has been raised is not tenable and is a red herring. First is the issue of precedence. President Shagari awarded a national honour posthumously to Chief Israel Adebajo and his son collected it on his behalf. Secondly, the award cannot be subject to strict legal interpretation. I would rather suggest a Dennington approach where determination is based on the need to achieve justice. MKO Abiola was elected in 1993 when he was still alive and remained alive for six more years. That is when he earned the GCFR. Acts of illegality prevented him from being decorated with it. Those acts of illegality have just been annulled. The spirit of June 12 is national. Let us build on it. Thank you, President Buhari for taking the first of the many steps you will need to take to heal the wounds that afflict us.
No comments yet