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June 7, 2018

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari's decision to finally recognize the significance of June 12 elections and posthumously honour Moshood Abiola with the title of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) for winning the Presidential Election conducted on that day in 1993.

It is apposite to state that President Buhari's decision was in response to the long-standing clamour by millions of Nigerians that June 12, more than any other day, symbolizes the struggle for enthronement of democratic rule in the country.

Commenting on this, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran said, “The conferment of GCFR on Abiola even if belated or invalid, as it has been claimed by some legal practitioners, has thrown up the need to adequately immortalize Abiola who indisputably remains the nation's icon for democracy because of his determination to stand by the resolve of the over 14 million Nigerians that voted for him on that fateful day. We however believe that rather than certify the date simply as a Democracy day, it would be appropriate and apt to term it as ‘MKO Abiola Day’ just as we have the Martin Luther King Jnr Day in United States of America (USA).’

The CACOL Coordinator while explaining the view of the Centre adds, “Considering the events preceding the June 12 Election, vis-a-vis how about 43 political associations were banned thus, preventing them from being registered as political parties, the two (2) political parties, NRC, SDP (National Republican Convention and Social Democratic party) were whimsically imposed on Nigeria by the ruling junta with their manifestoes and other operational documents written for them, Party Secretariats built by the Government and fully funded by same government, a major aberration and rape on the democratic rights of the people was flagrantly on display. This desecration and erosion of the democratic rights of the people to found political parties with clear programmes of action if voted into power, erosion of funding rights for the parties, etc, all made the political environment to become so convoluted that when the elections were arbitrarily cancelled and annulled, majority of the political class of that time refused to struggle and align with the mass for the de-annulment and revalidation of that same mandate, freely given.’

“It is however remarkable that Chief MKO Abiola sided with the masses and actually committed a ‘class suicide’ by insisting on leaving no stone unturned in reclaiming same mandate, even if this unfortunately resulted into his demise under questionable circumstances while in prison for same agitation. It is rather unfortunate that those who benefitted more from same elections never bothered to acknowledge its symbolic relevance to their re-emergence in power and cared less to dedicate anything in his memory; their singsong instead of appreciating MKO Abiola’s sacrifice, was that, ‘Abiola was never the Messiah Nigeria needs’. But neither could their Government also proved to be anybody’s Messiah as events later showed.’

“This is why CACOL believes that MKO only managed to contest and scaled through the election by tolerating the preceding military shenanigans to win that election; we should therefore not dignify that whole undemocratic procedure even though we agree that it is never too late for the winner of that historic election to be officially recognized as the undisputed winner while the mandate of the over 14million Nigerians is finally upheld and all official dues afforded his family with national monuments and more streets named after him. But the date, June 12 is better referred to as ‘Abiola Day’ for future generations of Nigerians to always learn the history and collectively say, ‘NEVER AGAIN”.

Adegboyega Otunuga

Media Coordinator, CACOL


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