…As Group Demands Declaration of MKO as President
By Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to start taking democratic steps that will safe guide Nigeria from the emergence of tyrants that would either suppress the fundamental principles of democracy or truncate it.
Aregbesola said Nigeria; under the administration of President Buhari must institutionalized rule of law and respect for humanity, describing it as the appropriate move to checkmate despots and their plan in a civilised country.
The Governor spoke on Tuesday at a Public Lecture to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the Chief MKO Abiola, and annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida, the Head of State then.
Aregbesola stated this just as a coalition of civil society groups called ‘Coalition of June 12’ trooped out major streets in Osogbo, the state capital to celebrate the Democracy Day, with a call on President Buhari to declare Abiola the winner of the 1993 presidential election.
The group commended President Buhari for honouring Abiola and the late human right activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi with the highest National Award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) respectively.
Delivering his keynote address at the public lecture, Aregbesola who is the first Nigerian Governor to declare June 12 as democracy day, said it is not too late to officially declare Abiola as a President of Nigeria and his picture be hung among the pictures of former presidents of Nigeria with full entitlements.
Aregbesola stated that President Buhari has done what past presidents did not have the courage to do, saying that with the official recognition of June 12 as democracy day and award of GCFR on Abiola, it has confirmed that Abiola actually won the election.
The Governor urged the president to take a next move of making move of institutionalizing the rule of law to make it impossible for arbitrary leaders to seize power and wreck havoc the way it was done on to Nigerians on June 12, 1993.
He said: “It is a thing of joy that it is a non-westerner that has ultimately seen the need to heal the wound and havoc that was done on Nigerians through the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
“I am happy that president Buhari has seen the fact that Abiola actually won the election which has made him to bestow on him a posthumous award of GCFR and for declaring that June 12 should henceforth be recognized as democracy day in Nigeria.
“I commend the president for his thoughtfulness and courage to do what presidents before him had no courage to do, it is heartwarming.
“While I appreciate the president for what he has done, I want him to take it a step further by setting up the motion to officially announce the full results of the elections and regard MKO Abiola as a past president with his picture hung among those of past presidents of Nigeria. That is the final healing to the injustice done to him and to Nigerians.
“We have learnt that democracy is the only way to go and you can never be wrong in a democracy. Whenever you are on the right path, you should not give up, because the truth will surely prevail. Abiola stood on the right path and today, he has won.
In his lecture, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human right lawyer, Femi Falani said President Buhari has officially validated the integrity of the credible election that was criminally annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida administration.
The legal luminary who was represented by Comrade Shina Odugbemi stated further that by recognizing June 12 as Democracy Day, the Federal government has put an end to the hypocrisy of May 29 which was proclaimed by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
Speaking on the purported illegality of the posthumous awards conferred on Abiola and Fawehinmi and declaration of June 12 as democracy day, Falana said the president has not breached any law at all on the pronouncements.
In its submission, the Osun June 12 coalition group, which spoke through Alhaji Waheed Lawal, Barr Shenge Rahmon and Saka Waheed at different locations in Osogbo, called on the president to compensate the families of those that lost their lives or injured in the June 12 struggle.