While PDP insists that Buhari is seeking to use the gesture to claim democratic credentials, Oshiomhole said the President’s gesture is altruistic and shows his strength of character.
The two spoke at different instances in Abuja, on Sunday.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said President Buhari’s gesture of bestowing a posthumous national award on the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election and democratic icon, Chief MKO Abiola, had not made him a democrat.
The PDP said it fully supported any honour done by the nation to the memory of the late Abiola and all that he stood for. It, however, rejected the inclination by President Buhari to use the occasion to posture as a democrat in a desperate bid to garner votes ahead of 2019 Presidential election.
The PDP said its opposition to Buhari’s posturing is based on the fact that his Presidency had unapologetically violated and was still violating all democratic tenets for which Chief Abiola suffered, died and was being honoured.
The statement read in part “Nigerians still hold that President Buhari has not considered it necessary to apologise for staging the military coup that destroyed democratic governance on December 31, 1983, suspended our 1979 Constitution, foisted siege mentality on Nigerians and set the stage for a long despotic military rule for which Chief Abiola, his dear wife, Kudirat and other democratic martyrs ended up paying the supreme sacrifice to restore.
“Rather than apologising for his roles in those dark ages, President Buhari recently boasted of violation of human rights during his regime as military head of state including locking up citizens in prison without trial; the same injustice which Chief Abiola later suffered under General Sani Abacha.
Ologbondiyan further said, “While the PDP congratulates the family of late Chief Abiola and other martyrs of democracy, we also remember the roles of the late Senator Abraham Adesanya, Bagauda Khalto, Dan Suleiman, Ralph Obiorah, Alex Ibru, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Pa Ajayi Laniwun and a host of others, as well as the management and staff of the Concord, Guardian, Vanguard, PUNCH and other media houses, who suffered undue hardships for our nation to attain this democracy.”
However, the leading aspirant for the position of National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, disagreed with the PDP.
He said Buhari deserved commendation across party lines because he had summed the political will to right the wrongs of the past with his decision to honour the late MKO Abiola and declare June 12 as Democracy Day.
Oshiomhole said this in response to questions from newsmen. He spoke soon after inaugurating his campaign organisation’s office, in Abuja, on Sunday.
He said, “I want to salute President Muhammadu Buhari for his outstanding statesmanship.
“There are many things he has done within the last three years but I will dare say that in terms of finding the political will and demonstrating statesmanship by his decision to acknowledge June 12 cannot be wished away as a none event. I think he deserves commendation across the political divide.