President Buhari Announces June 12 As Nigeria’s Democracy Day, Awards Abiola With GCFR
President Muhammadu Buhari in a surprise move Wednesday declared June 12 Nigeria’s Democracy Day and also awarded Nigeria’s highest honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, to the late businessman Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, winner of the election held on same date in 1993.
The election, adjudged to be the freest and fairest up till that year, in Nigeria’s history was annulled by the military junta headed by Ibrahim Babangida, plunging Nigeria into a five-year political crisis. Abiola died in 1998 and General Sani Abacha, who was one of the beneficiaries of the annulment, died some weeks before him.
President Buhari said Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe will also be honoured with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, the second highest honour. And so will Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the indefatigable lawyer and senior advocate who campaigned for the actualisation of June 12 up till Abiola’s death in 1998. The event will hold on June 12.
From 2019, June 12 will now replace 29 May, the day the military handed over to civilians in 1999 as Nigeria’s democracy day. And it means that the rest of Nigeria will join states in the South West to celebrate the day.
South West Nigeria since 1999 has been observing June 12 as Democracy Day but failed to convince their son, former President Olusegun Obasanjo to accord the date national recognition, when he ruled from 1999-2007
President Buhari said he decided to honour Abiola and the immortal date after consultations with Nigerians.
The president wrote on his Twitter:
“Dear Nigerians, I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Govt has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day. We have also decided to award posthumously the highest Honour in the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola.”
Dear Nigerians, I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Govt has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.
We have also decided to award posthumously the highest Honour in the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola. pic.twitter.com/VyYftmvWKA
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) June 6, 2018