By Yemi Adeleye
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring June 12 as a new Democracy Day and posthumously awarding Chief MKO Abiola, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
The President who announced this on Wednesday in a statement signed personally, said that June 12 would now replace May 29 as the Democracy Day.
Abiola, who was the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, died on July 7, 1998.
Babatope, a former Minister of Transport and member PDP Board of Trustees, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on phone that the president’s motivation was right.
“Even though one may question the timing, the motivation is right.
“We should commend Buhari for the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the conferment of GCFR on the late MKO Abiola,” he said.
Also Mr Wasiu Eshinokun-Sanni, the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, said that the truth had prevailed.
Eshinokun-Sanni, who noted that he received the news with a mixed feeling, commended the Lagos State Government to have recognised Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a late human rights lawyer.
“The good part is that effort of Nigerians in forgetting religious and tribal sentiments as exhibited by the June 12 elections is not in vain. June 12 is Democracy Day is also symbolic.
“What Obasanjo (former President) failed to recognise all this while in spite of being the greatest beneficiary of June 12, a Nigerian of northern extraction has brought it to the front burner,” he said.
“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as the Democracy Day.
” Therefore, government has decided to award posthumously, the highest honour of the land, GCFR to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled election.
“His running mate as Vice President Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe is also to be invested with a GCON.
“Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of June 12 elections and indeed for democracy in general, the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, is to be awarded posthumously a GCON.
“The commemoration and investiture will take place on Tuesday June 12, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public Holiday in celebration of the Nigerian Democry.”