June 12 annulment: Buhari offers apology to Abiola’s family, confers national honours on Ayu, Ebute, Anekwe


President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, in Abuja offered unreserved apology on behalf of the Federal Government to the family of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola over the annulment of June 12, 1993 poll won by the late Abiola.
Abiola was arrested on June 23, 1994 for declaring himself president by the late General Sani Abacha’s regime and died trying to claim his mandate during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 7, 1998.
Buhari apologised at the Special National Honours Investiture and award presentation to heroes of June 12, 1993 poll which was annulled on June 23, 1993 by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida.
He said the decision to hold the event was not to open old wounds but to bury negative sides of June 12 and its ill-feelings, hates, frustration and agony.
He, therefore, called on all Nigerians across national divides to accept the annulment of the June 12 1993 poll in good faith.

“I honestly invite all Nigerians across all our national divides to accept it in good faith. Our action today is to bury the negative sides of June 12, the side of ill feelings, hates, frustration and agony.
“What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive sides of June 12.
“The June 12, which reinstates democracy and freedom, the June 12 that overcome our various divides and the June that produces unity and national cohesion.
“This is the June 12 we are celebrating today and we will nurture it to our next generation
“Accordingly, on behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola who got the highest votes and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of June 12 struggle,’’ he said.
Buhari asked for a minute silence in honour of Abiola and those that lost lives in the struggle for the actualisation of June 12
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo tendered an apology for not being presence at the event because of his involvement in a book launch outside the country.
Former President Ibrahim Babangida equally tendered similar apology for his absence because of some prevailing issues touching on his health conditions.

Buhari also approved the conferment of National Honours on “three distinguished Nigerians” who contributed immensely to the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
They are Chief Agunwa Anekwe, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two former presidents of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu and Ameh Ebute.
All the three were leaders of the National Assembly in the Third Republic when the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Abiola was annulled by Babangida.
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF),  made the announcement in an address at the conferment of posthumous national honour on Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Abiola’s running mate during the election.
He said that the investiture of the three former legislators will take place at a later date.
”These awards serve as a public acknowledgement of their pivotal contribution to nationhood and a further demonstration of this administration’s commitment to upholding the ethos of democratic governance,” the SGF said.
He stressed that the proclamation of June 12 as Democracy Day was a public recognition of the country’s heroes whose “supreme efforts laid the foundation for our nascent democracy. ”
“Today marks a new dawn in the nation’s political and democratic advancement signalling the deepening of our belief in the democratic principles of inclusiveness in governance and hope for a greater Nigeria.
”The monumental election that took place on June 12, 1993, represented the first time in the history of our nation that Nigerians voted not for tribe or creed or region but for their convictions, affirming their common heritage and unity of purpose,” he said.

Boss added: “June 12, more than any other day, symbolized the varied struggles and sacrifices made by fellow citizens of this great nation, established democracy as our political system of governance, and opened a new chapter in the political history.
”It is in commemoration of this day, the spirit of which should be internalized in the consciousness of Nigerians of all ages and taught to our children and generations of Nigerians yet unborn, that this administration has, in placing history in the right perspective, declared June 12 of every year as Democracy Day and as a national holiday”.
President Muhammadu Buhari decorated Kingibe with the national honour of GCON while the posthumous award of GCFR for late MKO Abiola was received by his son, Kola, and that of GCON for late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, was received by his wife, Ganiat.


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