The Arewa Consultative Forum has said the conferment of national awards by President Muhammadu Buhari on the late Chief MKO Abiola; his running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe; and the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, will heal the wound of the annulment of June 12. 1993 presidential election by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
The group also said the honour was a good development for the nation’s democracy and the unity of Nigerians.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, on Saturday, told one of our correspondents that the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day was more relevant than that of May 29 hitherto observed.
Ibrahim-Biu noted that it was the belief of the northern organisation that the honour done to both Abiola and Kingibe would put to rest any ill-feeling pertaining to the 1993 poll.
The ACF also hailed the posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic on Abiola and Kingibe’s Grand Commander of the Niger title.
The ACF said, “The national honour by President Buhari to late Abiola and others is a good development that will put to rest any ill-feeling generated by the annulment of elections of June 12, 1993.”
But the National Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said Buhari had never spoken in favour of the June 1993 presidential poll won by Abiola.
Yakasai, who stated this in an interview, said Buhari was taking Nigerians for zombies by hiding his real motives behind the award of national honours for Abiola, Kingibe and Fawehinmi.
Yakasai said the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by Buhari was to polish his ambition for the 2019 elections, noting that the President never uttered any word of sympathy or support for Abiola’s cause since the annulled 1993 elections.
He said, “What Buhari has done is what is called political gimmickry. What Abiola, Kingibe and their supporters are looking for is the actual declaration of that election and Buhari is in the position to do that. It is not about giving money or titles or awards.
“Many of us Nigerians seem to be like zombies. We are people who don’t use our brains. People, including Buhari, are now taking Nigerians as zombies. Awarding a national honour to compensate Abiola, Kingibe and their supporters is not enough.
“What the President should have done, like some have also suggested, is to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission to look for the figures of the 1993 elections and formally announce the results and the winner accordingly.”
The NEF spokesperson, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, also described the posthumous national honour given to Abiola by Buhari as “belated opportunism.”
Abdullahi, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and one of the most vocal voices for power to return to the North in 2015, said this in response to enquiries from newsmen via text message on Saturday.
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said what Nigerians needed currently was more than a posthumous award for Abiola.
The Secretary-General of the association, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, stated this while speaking with one of our correspondents on Saturday.
He said, “To us in Afenifere, the recent posthumous awards are good but they are not the issues now. It is good to remember that some people paid the sacrifice for this democracy with the June 12, 1993 election and it is not a bad idea that the June 12 should be a democracy day because of these heroes.”
The House of Representatives said it had yet to take a position on the declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day and the honouring of the acclaimed winner of presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It also clarified that the House had no position on all matters relating to the President’s decision and the honouring of other political figures.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, recalled that a debate on the matter was deadlocked on the floor on Thursday.
He said, “We decided that the Committees on Justice/Rules and Business should look into the issue and advise the House appropriately before we take a formal position.”