President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday apologised to the family of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, for his travails after the election.
He tendered this apology in Abuja on Tuesday after posthumously conferring the nation’s highest title, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, on Abiola, adding that it is important for Nigerians to accept the decision “in good faith” and help the nation move forward.
Abiola died in the course of reclaiming his mandate. He was incarcerated by the late maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha.
Buhari, had on June 6, 2018, declared June 12 Nigeria’s new Democracy Day and announced that Abiola, and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, as well as human rights activist Gani Fawehinmi, would be honoured alongside other heroes of democracy. While Abiola got GCFR titles, Kingibe and Fawehinmi were honoured with the nation’s second title: GCON.
Speaking at the investiture ceremony at the Aso Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari said, “On behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola, who got the highest vote [in the election], and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of the June 12 struggle,” Buhari said before getting guests to observe a minute’s silence in honour of those who died.
He continued, “Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12 – side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12. The decision at this event is not meant to be, and is not, an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong.
“We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections.
“Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.”