Mr Williams Akporeha, NUPENG President, gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen at the 107th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva on Thursday.
It will be recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the nation’s Democracy Day would henceforth, hold on June 12 thereby replacing the traditional ‘‘May 29”.
Akporeha said the announcement was a welcome development as it was long overdue.
He also commended President Buhari for conferring a posthumous GCFR award on the presumed winner of June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (of blessed memory).
He applauded the President for conferring GCON titles on his running mate, Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) for their roles in the struggle to actualise June 12 presidential election.
Akporeha, however, said names like Frank Ovie Kokori, (NUPENG former General Secretary), Late Wariebi Kojo Agamene (former President of NUPENG), former General Secretary of PENGASSAN, (Chief) Milton Gilchrist Dabibi and others should have featured prominently on the list.
According to him, the union is stunned that such high profile national recognition and honour was offered by the Presidency.
“But no credit, whatsoever, was given to NUPENG and PENGASSAN despite the painstaking roles played by the leaders,’’ he said.
He added that without any fear of contradiction, the democracy Nigeria has been enjoying since May 29, 1993 did not come on a silver platter.
He noted that the leadership of these unions as well as their members fought for it, in some instances with blood, tears, freedom, career, adding that regrettably some people paid the supreme price.
He said these fearless and irrepressible Nigerians gave their all to earn the nation’s democratic liberty.
“For pecuniary gains and other reasons, some other Nigerians pitched their tent with the tyrannical military regimes.
“However, our leaders were resolute and blatantly refused to compromise or to receive any form of gratification despite intimidation, victimisation, harassment and incarceration by the military despot,’’ Akporeha added.
He, therefore, appealed to Mr. President to set a think-tank to look inwards and make necessary amends by reviewing the list in order to accommodate the names of the veterans mentioned above.