By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Following the declaration of June 12 by the presidency as Democracy day in Nigeria, a political scientist from the University of Ilorin, Dr Gbade Ojo has described the declaration as the representation of genuine aspirations of people of the country.
He added that it was a watershed for the course of governance and democratic development in the country.
Dr. Ojo who is also the Chief of Staff to Governor Abiola Ajimobi stated this on Thursday, in a chat with WESTERNPOST, while noting that unlike May 29 which was an artificial creation by the military, June 12 was the real Democracy day which represents genuine aspirations of the people.
“Twenty years after his demise, the late Moshood Kasimawo Abiola, fondly called MKO acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election was posthumously conferred with the highest national honour of the Grand Commander Federal of Republic (GCFR), while June 12 was declared officially as Democracy Day against May 29.
“Worthy of note is the fact that agitations and clamour for this recognition had been previously made to successive governments. While some had faulted its political relevance in Nigeria’s contemporary democracy, states of the South West region had always recognized MKO Abiola and as such observed public holidays on June 12,” he said.
According to him, the gesture by President Mohammadu Buhari led government would continue to generate positive outlook to people of the South West.
Speaking further, Dr. Ojo noted that any system that did not have a reward mechanism was doomed to fail and ideals of democracy allows for conferment of honours on those deserving even in death, while commending the presidency for the gesture.
While reacting on remarks by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Belgore, faulting the exercise on legal grounds with reference to the 1963 national honours act, Dr Ojo upheld his stance but argued that “sometimes, appropriateness supersedes legality in political spheres and the action of the President was appropriately justifiable.”
Speaking on consequences the gesture might portend for the 2019 general elections, the political scientist stressed that the South West region is politically mature and might not be cajoled, adding that the region might vote more in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari due to absence of vibrant contender.
Dr. Ojo also opined that the Federal Government could do more by officially recognizing the late MKO Abiola as a former President and accord him and his family all entitlement in that regard.