The people of the Gbagura area in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where Abiola hails from, have demanded June 12 become the future date for inauguration of new governments. The town’s traditional ruler, the Agura of Gbagura, Oba Halidu Olaoko, the Sobekun II, made the request during a press conference in his palace yesterday.
“We see this (honouring of Abiola) as victory of truth over injustice. And as the people of Gbagura and Ogun State, we are extremely glad that Mr. President has finally done what is just and fair with the posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the late Abiola and the declaration of June 12 as the proper Democracy Day and a public holiday in Nigeria,” the ruler said through Chief Adio Baiyewun.
“We passionately request the National Assembly to take a second look at President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposal on June 12 and demand proper actualisation and immortalisation of the date and Abiola.
There is need to support Mr. President to replace the hitherto public holiday of May 29 and celebration as well as the handover day with June 12, since the date marks a watershed in Nigeria’s political history,” he added.
Buhari had surprised Nigerians when he announced last week that the late Chief Moshood Abiola won the June 12, 1993 presidential election and would therefore receive, today, the country’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Former President Ibrahim Babangida had annulled the poll, adjudged the most credible in the nation’s history and widely believed to have been won by the late philanthropist.
But the commemoration has divided opinions among Nigerians. Chief Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman of the United Peoples Party, said: “The proclamation and the award is an act of courage, justice and patriotism.”
He said: “We do not agree with those who advance the argument that Buhari was merely playing politics with such a monumental act.
In 25 years, a number of administrations were persuaded. There were even public protests for June 12 to be given special recognition and the late Chief M.K.O Abiola properly honoured.