The Nigerian government has apologised to the family of late Moshood Kashiomawo Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.
President Muhammadu Buhari tendered the unreserved apology on Tuesday at investiture of Late Abiola, his running mate, Babagana Kingibe and late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Nigerian leader said the decision by government to honour the self proclaimed winner of the June 12 election was not meant to open up old wounds but to correct the wrongs of the past and appreciate the positives of June 12.
Celebration of Positives
He said Tuesday’s event was a celebration of the positive sides of June 12, which re-instated democracy, overcame our various divide and produced unity and good cohesion.
“This is the June 12 we are celebrating today and we will nurture it for our next generations. Accordingly I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola,” he said.
“Today I am very happy to be here and to preside over the commemoration and investiture marking the formal official federal government recognition of June 12 as national democracy day. The decision to do so and this event is not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong.
“Nigerians ion their own voted freely for late Chief MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe as the Presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party SDP in the 1993 elections but the government of the day inexplicably cancelled the elections when it was clear who the winner was going to be. We cannot rewind the past but we can assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong has been committed and the results stand firm now and in the future for the sanctity of free elections,” he said.
President Buhari stated that Nigerians would no longer tolerate such perversions of justice saying that the honour done to late Abiola and two others was just a token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of Nigeria by the June 12 cancellation.
“Our decision to recognise and honour June 12 and its actors is in the national interest. It is aimed at settling national healing process and the reconciliation of the 25 year pestering wound caused by the annulment of the June 12 elections. I honestly invite all Nigerians across our national divide to accept it in good faith,” the President beckoned.
President Buhari urged Nigerians to bury the negative side of June 12, namely the sigh of ill feelings, hate, frustration and agony.
High point of the event was the presentation of national award of the Grand Commander of the Federal republic GCFR to late Chief Abiola, which was received on his behalf by his son, Kola Abiola.
Similarly, Abiola’s running mate in the annulled election, Babagana Kingibe was decorated with the award of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger GCON (meant for Vice Presidents), and the presentation of thesame GCON to late Gani Fawehinmi, which was received on his behalf by his wife, Ganiyat Fawehinmi.
There were apologies form former Nigerian President, General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd.), who is currently outside the country and Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd.), who was absent for health reasons.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the event marked a new dawn in Nigeria’s democratic advancement and hope for a greater nation.
He recognised groups that played important roles in entrenching and sustaining Nigeria’s democracy.
It would be recalled that the late Chief Moshood Abiola died in detention, as a result of his insistence that he be declared winner of the June 12 Presidential election, which was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida regime.