…Declares June 12 Democracy Day
Precisely 20 years after the death of the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred a prestigious posthumous GCFR title on him.
Buhari also declared June 12 as the new date which Democracy Day will be celebrated in Nigeria in honour of the late MKO Abiola.
The President in a tweet on his official handle explained why June 12 will replace May 29 – the current Democracy Day; noting that June 12 is a more symbolic day.
He said: “Dear Nigerians, I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.
Buhari tweeted thus: “We have also decided to award posthumously, the highest Honour in the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola. In the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12, 1993, was and is far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29, or even October 1.”
The President also conferred a national honour on Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and recognised the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) for his role in the actualisation of the June 12 elections.
“Chief Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be awarded a GCON.
“Furthermore, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, a tireless fighter for human rights and democracy, and for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 elections, will be posthumously awarded a GCON.”
Buhari said further that June 12, 1993 election was the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since Nigeria’s Independence.
He said, “June 12, 1993, was the day millions of Nigerians expressed their democratic will in the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence.
That the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military Govt does not detract from its democratic credentials.”
Abiola died in suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha, on the day that he was due to be released on July 7, 1998.
The commemoration and investiture, the President added, will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, “a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public holiday in the celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.”
MKO Abiola was a Nigerian businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan. The late MKO Abiola ran for the presidency in 1993, for which the election results were annulled by former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, because of allegations that they were corrupt and unfair.
In 1956, Moshood Abiola started his professional life as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria. After two years, he joined the Western Region Finance Corporation as an executive accounts officer, before leaving for Glasgow, Scotland, to pursue his higher education.
From Glasgow University, he received a first class degree in accountancy, and he also gained a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.
On his return to Nigeria, Abiola worked as a senior accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, then went on to US firm Pfizer, before joining the ITT Corporation, where he later rose to the position of Vice-President, Africa and Middle-East.
Abiola spent a lot of his time, and made most of his money, in the United States, while retaining the post of chairman of the corporation’s Nigerian subsidiary. In addition to his duties throughout the Middle-East and Africa, Abiola invested heavily in Nigeria and West Africa.
He set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club.
He was also Chairman of the G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation, Patron of the WEB Du Bois foundation, trustee of the Martin Luther King Foundation, and director of the International Press Institute.
It’s a welcome development- PA to Abiola
Meanwhile, former personal assistant to the late Abiola, Lisa Olu Akerele, has described the federal government’s gesture as a welcome development.
According to Akerele, the ‘‘unexpected development was long overdue! My humble self, Kola Abiola and other well meaning people have been campaigning for years, albeit underground, for years to get the authorities to recognise MKO’s sacrifice and duly accord him the honour he rightly deserved.
‘‘The good thing is that it has taken a soldier like President Buhari to right the wrong perpetuated by Babangida in our lifetime,” he added