M.K.O Abiola’s family has written a letter of appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring Chief M.K.O Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 June 12 presidential election, with Nigeria’s highest award.
In a letter dated June 6, 2018, Mr. M.K.O Abiola’s son, Kola, said he was writing on behalf of the Abiola’s family.
Kola Abiola’s letter:
“Your Excellency, as I wrote in my letter to you on June 12, 2016, in our minds, the award was the only befitting recognition of the importance of Chief M.K.O Abiola’s fight for democracy for Nigeria which culminated in 4 years incarceration/solitary confinement and decimation of his business and financial interests, before the ultimate sacrifice, being his life on July 7, 1998 at the age of 60,” he wrote.
“Your Excellency, your decision to also designate June 12 as Democracy Day rights the wrongs done to all the nation-builders and heroes that produced that produced the democratic credentials on which the Nigerian polity now thrives. We are profoundly grateful to the people from all corners of Nigeria that worked tirelessly to ensure the most free and fair elections in our nation’s history in 1993, fought valiantly for the Hope ’93 mandate given to Bashorun Abiola by the Nigerian people and died trying to protect the mandate.”
“Mr President, I thank you earnestly for heeding our plea where others before you did not, whilst conveying the assurances of my highest esteem,” he writes.
President Buhari on Wednesday made a surprise announcement and also declared June 12 as democracy day starting from 2019, thereby abolishing May 29, which has been democracy day since 1999.
“I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day,” Buhari said in a statement.
“We have also decided to award posthumously the highest Honour in the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola.
“In the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12, 1993, was and is far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29, or even October 1.”
“Chief M.K.O Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be awarded a GCON.
“Furthermore, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, a tireless fighter for human rights and democracy, and for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 elections, will be posthumously awarded a GCON.”
June 12, 1993 election was adjudged as the fairest election in the history of Nigeria, but was annulled by the then military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida.
The announcement has changed political discussions as the country prepares for 2019 General Elections.
Buhari’s critics said it was done for political gains in next year’s Presidential Election.
“It’s a plan to win the hearts of the Southwest in the next year election,” they said.
Human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, and Mr M.K.O Abiola’s vice presidential candidate, Babagana Kingibe are also honoured.