Many prominent Nigerians have been reacting; some hailed President Buhari, others say he’s just playing politics ahead of 2019.
See reactions below…
Two-time Governor of Ogun State Aremo Olusegun Osoba said: “I am very happy and highly elated. It is a major thing to accept Abiola as the president of Nigeria that was not sworn in. The honour of GCFR is reserved for presidents. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the best president we never had, got it also without being president. I salute the President for the honour given to Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe. The GCON is always given to vice presidents.
“The acceptance of June 12 as the ‘Democracy day’ is in recognition of the supreme price that Abiola paid. It has elevated Abiola to the status of an international figure like Martin Luther King, who fought for justice and liberation in the United States.”
“The decision is commendable and proper. I hope Nigerians will learn from it. June 12 was a watershed. We were united as a country to end the military rule. We shunned our differences to vote for Abiola. The election was peaceful. Buhari has the courage to do the right thing, which some thought was difficult. June 12 is the proper “Democracy Day” in Nigeria when people put their differences away.
“MKO Abiola sacrificed himself for the country. The chairman of the electoral commission at that time admitted that Abiola actually won the election. Therefore, I support the president on this. It is commendable because June 12 was a watershed.”
Mr. Wale Oshun
A former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives Mr. Olawale Oshun applauded the president, saying he had succeeded where former President Olusegun Obasanjo failed.
Oshun, a former Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and Afenifere: “It is a great day for democracy. Giving Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi the highest honours is in appreciation of the sacrifices made by the members of the civil society groups. It is a honour for the people who were shot along Ikorodu Road, Lagos by the military during the protests against the annulment. It has been late in coming. The first civilian president in this dispensation ought to have taken the decision. But, we are grateful that Buahri has done it.”
Chief Deju Fasuan
To the Chairman of the Committee for the Creation of Ekiti State, Chief Deji Fasua, the president had wormed himself into the hearts of democracy-loving people, who had anticipated the immortalisation for a long time.
He said Abiola should now be properly recognised as a president-elect, adding that his portrait should be accorded its proper place among past Nigerian leaders.
Fasua said: ”At last, President Muhammadu Buhari has become a politician. He has caught the nation completely unawares. Declaring June 12 as a ‘Democracy day’ is a monumental breakthrough in the history of Nigeria. It means that everything that was done to abort the wishes of the people have been erased from our political lexicon and history.
“I urge Nigerians to observe, gratify and reward Buhari for his position in Nigeria’s politics. Considering the present circumstances, Buhari’s name should be written in gold.”
Pro-democracy activist and leader of ‘Women Arise’ Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin said: “The decision is accepted, 24 years after the annulment. We have always clamoured that June 12 should be the ‘Democracy Day.’ We have been marking it every year. The honours to Abiola and Fawehinmi are good.
“The greatest post-humus recognition is that Abiola should be treated as a past president and we want his portrait to be included among past presidents. Also, in memory of June 12, the president make a commitment to free and fair elections in 2019.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo
“It is a welcome development, but belated. It does not put food on the table now. He should go and restructure the country. What he has done now is a palliative. It cannot erase the problem in the country.”
It’s ironic Buhari is doing this, says Yakassai
Former Second Republic Specail Adviser Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said it is ironic that President Muhammadu Buhari who did not at any point speak against the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election would suddenly declare it as the freest and fairest in Nigerian democratic history.
Yakasai described what President Buhari did as “his power of incumbency to seek for support of the electorate.
“The implication of his action today is that the election was free, fair and credible and therefore the annulment of the election was unjustifiable and illegal. Since he has gone to the extent of rewarding the late Abiola and his running mate for not being allowed to enjoy their mandate, it is an open admission that the annulment was illegal.
“The honest thing Buhari could have done was to revalidate the result of that election, by asking the electoral commission to officially announce the result and declare the winner. The fact that Abiola is dead does not make any difference, because his running mate is still alive.
“So, the election can still be made valid and since Abiola is not alive, his running mate can take over the reins of government, having been declared the winner of that election. Therefore, Buhari should have handed over power to Babagana Kingibe, who was the running mate of Abiola.”
It’s a welcome development, says Afenifare
Afenifere leader Pa Rueben Fasoranti said: “It is a welcome development. But, it is too late. The president ought to have done it before. Abiola deserves it. It is a welcome news.
Second Republic Senator Ayo Fasanmi thanked the president for immortalizing Abiola, urging the political class to emulate the symbol of June 12.
Fasanmi said: “The election of June 12, 1993 was the fairest election ever. Abiola won convincely. But, Babangida did not allow it to materialise. Democracy was murdered by Babangida. Democracy was crucified through the annulment of June 12, 19993 poll. Therefore, what the president has done is a right step in the right direction.
“On June 12, 1993, it was a Muslim/Muslim ticket. It was a clean and clear election. It is better to make June 12 the ‘Democracy Day;’ the day democracy was murdered. Things were orderly when I was in the House of Representatives in the First Republic and when I was in the Senate in the Second Republic. Some people have made the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a Republic of corruption. This is what Buhari is trying to end. I support Buhari’s decision to honour Abiola.”
Former Senate Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunimbe Mamora hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for recognising Abiola and the honour done him.
Mamora said the President has done something his predecessors failed to do by righting the wrong of the past. According to him, this singular act of President Buhari is commendable. Though Abiola is no more but his legacy lives on. I join millions of lovers of democracy in commending President Buhari for that singular act.
“One of the greatest acts of leadership is recognising what is good in others, that is what Buhari has done. He had written his name in gold in the political history of Nigeria”.
The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Mr Joe Igbokwe was excited by President Buhari decision to adopt June 12 as Democracy Day and the post humous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic for Abiola.
Igbokwe said Buhari had healed the wound that has been hunting Nigeria since 1993. “Abiola won the election but he was denied victory by Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo. This great injustice is what has been holding Nigeria down. Buhari has achieved what the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed to do while in power for 16 years. With this act, PDP has been buried.
“I want President Buhari to go a step further by paying compensation to Abiola‘s family because the June 12 saga had ruined Abiola’s chain of business. Abiola died in the struggle for his mandate, the Concord newspapers, the bookshop, Concord Airline and many others have gone under.
Lawyer and human rights activist Monday Ubani, said this is what he expected from President Buhari immediately he assumed power in 2015. It is better than never, he said.
Ubani said President Buhari deserved commendation for having courage to revert the manifest injustice meted to Abiola.
A senior advocate Chief Niyi Akintola, described the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the post humous award for Abiola as a welcome development. “It is a good way of immortalising the winner of the June 12poll. We have been clamouring for it in the South West”.
“It is a good one, though it is belated. We appreciate it that it is coming from him. The conferment of GCFR on Abiola is also welcome, it is commendable.
“Having said that, I think these are all desperate moves to woo the votes of the Southwest. It is like someone setting a trap and placing some very delicious food on the trap so that you swallow it and get caught.
“He wants to catch us once again in 2019. We have always demanded for the recognition of June 12, he has given them to us now, so that he can catch us again by the neck in 2019.
“What I will say is that we should play smart, we should thank him for it and show appreciation. These are things that Abiola deserved, so we appreciate it for doing him the honour.
Chief Chekwas Okorie
The National Chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said President Buhari’s action is nothing but high wire politics.