The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has commended the Federal Government for officially recognising the June 12, 1993 Presidential election saying it is a very important political watershed in Nigeria.
According to the NLC in a statement on Thursday: “The official declaration of June 12 as a national public holiday in commemoration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day deserves the applause of all Nigerians of goodwill.
“This gesture by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is commendable for its courage and thoughtfulness as it conveys significant democratic lessons.”
The statement signed by the Acting President of the NLC, Solomon Adelegan said: “The move is coming after the refusal of successive governments to accord the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, his due place in Nigeria’s history, despite years of agitation and struggle by pro-democracy activists.
“There is no doubt that the honour done to Chief MKO and other heroes of the June 12 struggle particularly Chief Gani Fawehinmi, though belated, speak volumes of the role of government in modelling good democratic practices and recognizing heroism as a cornerstone of our political evolution.
“The honour done to the memories of MKO and other heroes of the June 12 struggle is a worthy restitution for their selfless and supreme sacrifice,” NLC said.
It said that June 12 has grown beyond the person of Chief MKO Abiola and has become synonymous with the citizens capacity as a people to rise above ethnic and religious sentiments to recruit political leadership strictly on the basis of antecedence, performance and issue-based political considerations.
“The fact that Chief MKO Abiola and Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe; both Muslims, enjoyed popular acceptance across the geo-political zones of Nigeria deals a cruel gavel on the aspirations of many politicians of today to divide and conquer us on the basis of where we come from and how we choose to worship. June 12 instructs all Nigerians to continue to say no to agents of divisive and damaging politics.
“June 12 signposts our capacity for noble democratic behaviour. The June 12 1993 election was conducted without the violence, bloodshed, and acrimony that have always characterized elections in Nigeria particularly political parties’ primaries which have been turned into “do or die” and “cash and carry” contests.”
The role of the Nigeria Labour Congress in speaking out against what it called such undemocratic conducts, according to the Congress, is best exemplified in the rallying stance against the failed 2007 general election where the NLC led the struggle for electoral reforms.
The public admission by the then President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua led government that the electoral process that brought it to power was fundamentally flawed and the subsequent establishment of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee, which the NLC was part of, remain milestones that are deserving of the foundation of June 12; the NLC stressed.
According to the statement: “While we commend the Federal Government for honouring the contributions of Chief MKO Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe to the deepening of our democratic culture, we however object to the choice of “presumed winner” in describing the victory of MKO at the 1993 presidential elections.
Since there has never been any contestation about the victory of MKO Abiola at the 1993 polls, it is only logical and honourable to expunge the use of “presumed winner” from official and reportorial narrative of the cruel annulment of June 12, 1993 election.
“In any case, government’s recent action in honoring Chief MKO Abiola makes irrelevant the use of the word “presumed” in describing his victory at the 1993 presidential polls.
“Nigerian workers enjoin the Federal Government to honour Nigerians who suffered enormous discomfort, state persecution and even paid the supreme price on the account of the June 12 struggle. The construction of a June 12 Cenotaph in the honour of these Nigerians would go a long way in institutionalizing the lessons of June 12.
“Finally, June 12 looms larger than the symbolic official commemoration. We urge the Federal Government to demonstrate complete affinity with the ideals of June 12 by removing all obstacles to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. This can be best achieved by fully implementing the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee Report and enforcement of provisions in our Electoral Act that criminalize violence, vote buying and other fraudulent practices and places a ceiling on political campaign financing,” the NLC said.