…confers national honour on former lawmakers; Ayu, Ebute, Anekwe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday performed the investiture of national honours on heroes of democracy and tendered a national apology to the family of late Chief Moshood Abiola, for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which he was adjudged to have won.
Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe were the candidates of Social Democratic Pary (SDP) that contested the election in 1993.
Buhari also tendered national apologies to all those who struggled for the actuallisation of the election, including journalists, politicians and all other stakeholders.
The President personally presented the awards to Mr Kola Abiola, son of MKO Abiola; Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi, wife of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi; and Ambassador Babagana Kingigbe, who was the running mate to Abiola.
Buhari said as he presented the awards that the ceremony was not to open old wounds of inexplicable annulment of the election which was clear to have been won by MKO Abiola.
“We recognise that an error has been committed.
“We will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.
“This honour if for the grievous injustice done to the country.
“It is meant to assist at healing the wounds and building national reconciliation of the 25 years of wounds caused by the annulment.
“I earnestly urge Nigerians to accept it in good faith and bury the past of June 12.
“We are celebrating June 12 as a democracy sustenance, freedom, unity and national cohesion.
“It will impact positively on the next generation.
“I tender the nation’s apology to the family of MKO Abiola, Also to those who struggle and stood for June 12.”
Buhari declared a minute silence in honour of the victims of June 12.
Mr Kola Abiola and his sister Hafsat Biola spoke on behalf of the family of MKO Abiola, saluting Buhari for the honour done to the gladiators of June 12 and for honouring their father.
Hafsat said: “Today is important because it presents the unity of Nigeria.”
She appealed to all politicians to appreciate Nigerians and urged “all Nigerians to support President Buhari.
In a related development, President Muhammadu conferred national honours on three distinguished Nigerians for their immense contributions to the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
They are: Chief Agunwa Anekwe, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two former presidents of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu and Ameh Ebute. All three were leaders of the National Assembly in the Third Republic.
Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), made the announcement on Tuesday in Abuja in an address at the conferment of national honours on Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Amb. Babagana Kingibe.
He said that the investiture of the three former legislators will take place at a later date.
“These awards serve as a public acknowledgement of their pivotal contribution to nationhood and a further demonstration of this administration’s commitment to upholding the ethos of democratic governance,” the SGF said.
He stressed that the proclamation of June 12 as Democracy Day was a public recognition of the country’s heroes whose “supreme efforts laid the foundation for our nascent democracy. ”
“Today marks a new dawn in the nation’s political and democratic advancement signalling the deepening of our belief in the democratic principles of inclusiveness in governance and hope for a greater Nigeria.
“The monumental election that took place on June 12, 1993, represented the first time in the history of our nation that Nigerians voted not for tribe or creed or region but for their convictions, affirming their common heritage and unity of purpose,” he said.
Mustapha added: “June 12, more than any other day, symbolized the varied struggles and sacrifices made by fellow citizens of this great nation, established democracy as our political system of governance, and opened a new chapter in the political history.
“It is in commemoration of this day, the spirit of which should be internalized in the consciousness of Nigerians of all ages and taught to our children and generations of Nigerians yet unborn, that this administration has, in placing history in the right perspective, declared June 12 of every year as Democracy Day and as a national holiday.”