Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says MKO Abiola and some activists gave up their lives that Nigerians might have democracy.
In a statement on Thursday, the APC leader described the conferment of national honours on Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi and Baba Gana Kingibe as good news for democracy and a proud moment for Nigeria.
Tinubu said the proclamation would forever bury “ill-conceived” notion that by President Muhammadu Buhari is against democracy.
He also noted that the award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) to Abiola serves as an acknowledgement that he won the 1993 election.
“Along with all democratic and fair-minded Nigerians, I welcome the news that June 12 will replace May 29 as Democracy Day. I too applaud President Buhari for making this courageous and rightful decision,” read the statement which Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s spokesman, issued on his behalf.
“This is good news for democracy and a proud moment for Nigeria. While impossible to go back in time and change the past, we must do our utmost to correct the wrongs of the past. This is what Buhari has done by this decision. He has shown all Nigerians and the world that we have the moral fortitude to objectively face our history, learn from it and improve our society by virtue of this learning.
“June 12, more than any other day, symbolizes the struggles and sacrifices made by countless Nigerians to establish democracy as our way of national governance. Chief MKO Abiola and others gave their lives that we might have democracy, that the will of the people would be sovereign and not suppressed by the will of the few. This proclamation by the president will forever memorialize the sacrifices made by these patriots who gave up themselves in service of such a noble and rightful purpose.
“The award of GCFR to Chief Abiola serves as an acknowledgement that he won the 1993 election and should have been allowed to serve as our president after winning that free and fair expression of the popular will. We also commend the award to MKO Abiola’s VP candidate, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and that given to Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
“Chief Fawehinmi was a fearless advocate for democracy and the human rights of the common man. Whenever and wherever he spoke, it was the language of truth to power.”
Tinubu further disclosed that the designation of June 12 as Democracy Day is the fulfilment of the dream and efforts of many Nigerians. With this fulfilment, he said, comes a civic responsibility.
“We must consecrate this new holiday and ourselves so that we make it a living holiday. More so than ever before, the spirit of June 12 must live within us. It must guide our politics and how we govern ourselves. We must continuously dedicate ourselves to the freedoms and rights as well as the duties that democracy bestows on us all, political friend and foe alike.
“Let it be said that this presidential proclamation should forever bury ill-conceived notion that President Buhari is ambivalent to democracy. He has shown that he not only respects democracy but duly honours it.
“Democracy may be rough and untidy at times but it remains the form of government best suited for a society as diverse and multifaceted as ours.
“Today, the sun shines a bit more brightly. The sound of democracy peals more resolutely across the land. The sacrifices of Chief Abiola and others have been affirmed by the federal government he once should have led. Democracy has been given its proper seat and day. History has been corrected to the extent humanly possible. Nigeria continues to define its better self.
“Of this new Democracy Day and what it symbolizes, we all should be equally proud.”