Published On: Mon, Jun 11th, 2018

Buhari’s June 12 gimmick cannot appease Yoruba nation – Akogun Adeniyi

By OBINNA EZUGWU

Veteran Columnist, author and convener of G9, an umbrella body for all self determination groups in Nigeria, Akogun (Chief) Tola Adeniyi has noted that the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to change the date of Nigeria’s Democracy Day commemoration from May 29 to June 12 in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola would not appease the Yoruba who according to him, are only interested in pan Nigerian politics and not sectional agenda promoted by the President.

MKO Abiola: the winner of June 12 election

Chief Adeniyi who as a supporter of candidate Buhari ahead of 2015 election, formed the Global Intelligentsia for Buhari to raise Diaspora funds for the president’s campaign, noted that although the decision to change Democracy Day to June 12 was a welcome one, it will not make the Yoruba support him in 2019.

“We should thank Olodumare that someone has the common sense to do what is right and just regarding Abiola’s indelible sacrifice,” Adeniyi told BusinessHallmark. “But doing so cannot be an appeasement to the Yoruba nation.

“Abiola’s huge contribution to our democratic process was pan Nigerian. Slaughtering Nigerians   with satanic impunity cannot be appeased with tokenism.”

Adeniyi noted further that choosing June 12 as Democracy Day is not an honour to Abiola and that his birthday should be declared public holiday as an honour to him.

“Besides naming June 12 Democracy Day is not an honour to Abiola. His birthday or the day of his assassination should be declared Public holiday and naming National stadium Abuja after him could be an additional honour. Certainly not June 12,” he concluded.

President Buhari had on Wednesday, delivered what many have described as “political masterstroke” by directing that henceforth Democracy Day will be marked every year on June 12, rather than May 29 which had been observed as Democracy Day since 1999 in honour of Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election who later died in detention.

The President in a statement he personally signed also said Abiola would be conferred with the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), an honour reserved for presidents.

“For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29, as Democracy Day. That was the date when, for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 21, 1979,” the statement read.

“But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even the October 1.

“June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence.

“The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.

“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal, Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.

“Therefore, the government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled elections.

“His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and indeed for democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is to be awarded the GCON

“The investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.”

The president’s decision has continued to attract commendation by many, including the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Abiola’s children and many others.

In letter to the president dated June 6, the late politician’s son, Mr. Kola Abiola appreciated the decision on behalf of the Abiola family.

“Your Excellency, as I wrote in my letter to you on June 12, 2016, in our minds, the award was the only befitting recognition of the importance of Chief Abiola’s fight for democracy for Nigeria which culminated in four years’incarceration/solitary confinement and decimation of his business and financial interests, before the ultimate sacrifice, being his life on July 7, 1998, at the age of 60,” he wrote.

“Your Excellency, your decision to also designate June 12 as Democracy Day rights the wrongs done to all the nation-builders and heroes that produced the democratic credentials on which the Nigerian polity now thrives. We are profoundly grateful to the people from all corners of Nigeria that worked tirelessly to ensure the freest and fairest elections in our nation’s history in 1993, fought valiantly for the Hope’93 mandate given to Bashorun Abiola by the Nigerian people and died trying to protect the mandate.

“Mr President, I thank you earnestly for heeding our plea where others before you did not, whilst conveying the assurances of my highest esteem.”

However, others have argued that the honour is only a deceitful attempt to win Yoruba vote in 2019.

In a chat with Daily Post, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, berated the president over the decision, maintaining that his recognition of Abiola at time elections were close was “deceitful”.

“This is deceitful politics, Buhari is doing that in anticipation of the forthcoming election in 2019 but those who know him like I do will tell you that he has never respected or admired Abiola. So doing this now shows that he is so desperate and is prepared to do anything deceitful and dishonourable to motivate votes,” the former lawmaker said.

“Buhari has no other arithmetic because the bulk of the votes Abiola got did not come from the South West, they came from the North and the East, so he thinks this action is the master’s stroke that will win him the election but he is mistaken.

“Nigerians are smart enough to see through this deceitful antics, Buhari was one of those against Abiola. To confirm this deceit, he took a traitor of Abiola, Babangana Kingibe to honour him too.

“I don’t understand why anybody who was familiar with that election will honour Abiola and Kingibe, who is a traitor never known to be loyal to anybody than himself.

“As we speak, Kingibe is an employee of the Presidency and he is part of the cabal, so this is sinister because 2019 is around the corner.

”has been in power since 2015, he didn’t remember to rectify an injustice but only now that elections are coming that he remembered to do so, he should be ashamed of himself.”

Similarly, in a statement, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan described Buhari’s decision as “political desperation.”

Taking a jab at Kingibe, the party noted that it is “shocking that the respectable grave of Abiola can be dishonoured by granting a posthumous award on him along with someone who denounced the June 12 mandate and preferred the company of his (Abiola’s) traducers.”

The statement read: “The national honour proposed to be conferred on the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993, Chief MKO Abiola, by the failed President Muhammadu Buhari, smacks of hypocrisy and

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