The apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has advised Nigerians to take President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the posthumous award to the winner of the epic presidential election, late MKO Abiola, with a pinch of salt.
This was as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said the national honour proposed to be conferred on the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993, Abiola, by President Muhammadu Buhari, smacks of hypocrisy and political desperation ahead of 2019 presidential election.
The main opposition party declares that Buhari’s action merely sought to use the name and person of Chief Abiola to gain a political capital and not out of genuine reverence and recognition for him.
Afenifere however stated that although it accepted the recognition of Abiola and June 12 by the All Progressives Congress, APC, federal government, there is a need to test the motives and true intentions of the government with the coming elections in Ekiti, Osun and next year’s presidential elections.
Its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with Premium Times, feared that the government might be trying to woo voters ahead of the coming 2019 general elections, even though the gesture was a welcome development.
According to him, “We are not unaware that we are now in the election season and every attempt will be made to woo voters with issues that are popular.
“But be that as it may, we have canvassed for the honour of Chief Moshood Abiola since the annulment of June 12 and for June 12 to be declared democracy day for over two decades now. Therefore we accept the declarations and commend them.
“If we are able to hold free and fair elections, if we allow Nigerians to elect their leaders without hindrance, if the will of voters is acknowledged, if the ballot is allowed to reign supreme in the next Nigerian elections, then this would have celebrated our true belief in the spirit of June 12 and the proper honour of Abiola, who died on principle, insisting that the rights of Nigerians and their votes must be respected.
“They say fairness consist in giving even the devil his due. Like I said the true test of the motive and intention will come out in January, in fact right from Ekiti on July 14, we will know whether this is just a mere gimmick or a true spirit of democracy in the land. So it is not far for us to know the motive behind this.”
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The party recalls that President Buhari, who was serving in the military administration of General Sani Abacha during the travails of Chief MKO Abiola, did not associate either by words or actions with the late winner of June 12 election.”
PDP further pointed out that history did not record Buhari as sympathetic to the Abiola’s family when his wife, Kudirat, was gruesomely murdered by the agents of a government which President Buhari served.
“It is therefore a sign of political desperation for President Buhari to seek to use Chief Abiola’s name as a tool to sway Nigerians in less than twelve months to an election where he, (President Buhari) is seeking a second term.
“It is also 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.
“Even those who now masquerade as change agents were opposed to the naming of University of Lagos after Chief Abiola.
“If President Buhari genuinely wants to honour Chief Abiola, he should do so by ending all anti-democratic proclivities of his administration and allow for the rule of law and respect for our constitution.
“The PDP therefore urges President Buhari to shed his desperate actions in his quest to win the 2019 presidential election as Nigerians can no longer be deceived by such antics,” the statement read in part.