By Ismaila Chafe, Dorcas Jonah, Martins Abochol, Olukayode Babalola
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday summoned service chiefs and heads of security agencies for the third time in the week at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The President had on Monday met behind closed doors with the service chiefs and selected heads of security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari also on June 6 summoned an expanded meeting of the Security Council where he was briefed by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali and the service chiefs.
Others who attended the Tuesday meeting with the President included the Director-General of
Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufa’i.
The National Security Adviser to the President, Retired Maj-Gen. Babagana Munguno and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also attended the meeting.
However, Thursday’s meeting between the President, security chiefs and heads of security agencies lasted for less than 30 minutes.
The minister of defence, who briefly spoke to State House correspondents, said the meeting reviewed issues deliberated upon at their last meeting.
He said “we came to review what we did at the last meeting.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Justice to take immediate steps to publish the Presidential Order on June 12, to be observed as Democracy Day in Nigeria in the Federal Gazette.
This information is contained in a statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Thursday.
The statement read: “Following his declaration yesterday that henceforth, June 12, be observed as Democracy Day in Nigeria and that some heroes of democracy be given national honours,
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Shehu Malami to take immediate steps to publish the Presidential Order in the Federal Gazette as follows:
“Chief MKO Abiola-Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (Posthumous).
“Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
“Chief Gani Fawehinmi – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (Posthumous).’’
“The President also directed that this should be done so that the awards slated for June 12, 2018 can go on as planned.’’
Buhari had on Wednesday directed that effective from 2019, Nigerian Democracy Day, marked every May 29 for the past 18 years be shifted to the June 12.
The President in a statement issued by Malam Shehu, had said the directive was to honour “an illustrious son of Nigeria, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola”.
Late Abiola, the acclaimed winner of a presidential election in 1993, was prevented from taking office when the results were annulled and he later died while struggling to actualise his mandate.
Shehu said Abiola would be conferred with the nation’s highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) exclusively conferred on the holders of the highest office in the country, the President.
He stated that in the same vein, Chief Abiola’s running mate in that election, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, would also be conferred with the second highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON).
Shehu added that the late Nigeria’s foremost pro-democracy activist, Gani Fawehinmi, would receive the title of a GCON.
Reacting to the Presidential Order, the Noble Women Movement for Buhari and Osinbajo (NWM4BO), a solidarity group, has commended President Buhari, describing the award as a move to assuage not only the family of MKO Abiola and the people of the South West geo-political zone, but lovers of true democracy in Nigeria.
The group’s Director of Publicity, Dr Rachael Ahmadu, gave the commendation in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The statement quoted the National President of the group Mrs Mfawa Usani, as saying “denying Chief MKO Abiola his mandate caused Nigeria a great and monumental setback for 19 years.”
Usani said that June 12 stood for the unity of all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or religion.
“Those who were not born before June 12, 1993, may not know what it stands for.
”The historic day was the day Nigerians from the East, West, North and South rose in one voice, in amity, in unity, in one accord to elect Chief M.K.O Abiola as the president of Nigeria.
”Regrettably, the election was annulled by former military Head of State, retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, which set Nigeria on the path of crisis, leading to many deaths including the wife of the winner of the election Mrs Kudrirat Abiola”.
”Today, 25 years after, the annulment of that mandate still haunts Nigeria.
“Nigerian women are happy with these awards as a step to correct the wrong of 25 years,” Usani said.
Also reacting, Mr Dickson Omoregie, Country Representative of Berlin-based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) on Thursday said the declaration of ‘June 12’ as Democracy Day, was an “evidence of a united and indivisible Nigeria”.
Omoregie, in a telephone interview with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the gesture by President Buhari would further encourage Nigerians to live up to expectations in their various endeavours.
According to him, the declaration will further rekindle the hope and aspirations of the youth to render selfless service for the development of the country.
He urged other African leaders to emulate President Buhari in honoring deserving nationals to serve as incentives to others.
“The President is vehemently fighting those who almost destroyed the nation’s economy, our cultural heritage and international image,” he said.
Also reacting, Mr Silas Agara, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa state, commended President Buhari for deepening Nigeria’s democracy by declaring June 12, as Democracy Day.
Agara stated this in a statement signed by his media aide Mr Godspower Ede, and made available to newsmen in Lafia on Thursday.
According to the statement, the move by Buhari has shown that he is an advocate of fairness and justice as well as being sensitive to the yearnings of the electorate.
“I wholeheartedly commend the decision of the President which I see as a credible move to deepen democracy in Nigeria.
“The decision has solidified his status as an unflinching advocate of democracy, fairness and justice,” he added.
Agara said the decision has finally resolved a sensitive issue that had torn many Nigerians apart for so long.
“We are aware of the issues and sentiments that trailed the June 12 poll, leading to its cancellation in spite of the fact that it was described by local and international observers as the freest, fairest and most peaceful election ever held in Nigeria.
“Yet Buhari, a Nigerian of Northern extraction has shown true statesmanship and unequaled leadership by healing the wounds of the past in declaring June 12, as Nigeria’s Democracy Day,” he said.
Agara also applauded the posthumous conferment of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), on Late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 poll.
“The President has proven that he is a leader who is fair to all and sensitive to the yearnings of the people,’’ he said.
Agara urged all Nigerians irrespective of religious, tribal or political affiliation to rally round Buhari in his quest to take the country to greater height.