June 12: Stop Confusing Nigerians, Soyinka Tells Buhari …Confronts President To Choose Between Abiola, Abacha …As FG Confers National Honours On Ayu, Ebute, Anekwe …Obasanjo, Babangida, Saraki, Dogara Absent At Investiture

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Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a stand between late MKO Abiola and former Military Head of State,, Sani Abacha.
Soyinka, speaking, yesterday during the Special National Honours Investiture at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, urged Buhari to stop confusing Nigerians and take a stand.
He was one of the speakers at the occasion where MKO Abiola, the adjudged winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election and others were honoured.
Soyinka said, “As we inaugurate hall of fame, we should inaugurate hall of shame on another hand.
“Hall of Shame should be in line with Hall of Honours. Many unsung heroes and heroines. The torture, dehumanizing of Nigerians were horrendous.
“I will like to appeal to you to stop confusing Nigerians. It is not possible to honor MKO Abiola in one breadth and praise his tormentor in another breadth.”
Meanwhile,President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Abuja approved the conferment of National Honours on three distinguished Nigerians who contributed immensely to the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
They are a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Agunwa Anekwe, 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.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the announcement in an address at the conferment of posthumous national honour on Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Amb. Babagana Kingibe.
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 hounour 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.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, performed the investiture of national honours on heroes of democracy and tendered a national apology to the family of late Chief Moshood Abiola, for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which was adjudged to have been won by Abiola.
MKO Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe were the candidates of Social Democratic Party (SDP) that contested the elections in 1993.
Buhari also tendered national apologies to all those who struggled for the actuallisation of the election, including journalists, politicians and all other stakeholders.
The President personally presented the awards to Mr Kola Abiola, son of MKO Abiola; Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi, wife of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi; and Ambassador Babagana Kingigbe, who was the running mate to Abiola.
Buhari said as he presented the awards that the ceremony was not to open old wounds of inexplicable annulment of the election which was clear to have been won by MKO Abiola.
“We recognise that an error has been committed. We will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This honour is for the grievous injustice done to the country.
“It is meant to assist at healing the wounds and building national reconciliation of the 25 years of wounds caused by the annulment.
“I earnestly urge Nigerians to accept it in good faith and bury the past of June 12. We are celebrating June 12 as a democracy sustenance, freedom, unity and national cohesion. It will impact positively on the next generation.
“I tender the nation’s apology to the family of MKO Abiola, Also to those who struggle and stood for June 12.”
Buhari declared a minute silence in honour of the victims of June 12.
It was announced that former President Olusegun Obasanjo tendered an apology for not being present because of his involvement in a book launch outside the country.
In the same vein, former President Ibrahim Babangida also tendered apology for his absence because of some prevailing issues touching on his health.
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, were also absent at the event.
However, the family of late MKO Abiola and some civil society organisations have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to end poverty in the nation, as that was what Abiola stood for.
They made the call at the MKO Abiola’s family house at Oke-Ido, Gbagura in Abeokuta, yesterday, after a democracy walk that started from June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta and terminated at the family house.
The walk was led by the Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga and the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa.
In his submission, Head of Abiola family, Alhaji Muritala Abiola, thanked and appreciated Buhari’s decision to finally recognise their son as the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The head of the family stated that late MKO Abiola was loved by all Nigerians before, during and after the annulled election, adding that one of the programmes of late MKO was not to allow any Nigerian to suffer.
He stated that late Abiola wanted to end poverty by all means and that was why he contested and won the 1993 presidential election, adding that the Federal Government should follow the steps of MKO Abiola.
According to him, the Abiola family sympathises with families of the Nigerian students and other Nigerians who lost their lives in the June 12 struggle.
President, Women Arise for Change, Mrs. Joe Okei-Odumakin, commended the President for immortalising MKO Abiola, saying the decision was long overdue. Okei-Odumakin, a human right activist, called on the Federal Government to ensure that those who killed MKO Abiola were brought to book, saying it would be one of the befitting memorials for him.
“We lost the man and the mandate, although belated, we salute President Buhari for declaring June 12 Democracy Day.
“We want to say that we want MKO to be recognised with the GCFR award, which is only given to past President, past Head of State. We want a posthumous declaration of MKO as a past President in Nigeria.
“I want us to realise that MKO Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Ruwane and several others paid the supreme price, which we can’t forget. Governor Ibikunle Amosun, represented by his Deputy, Onanuga, said the state government appreciated Buhari for the honour done to MKO and the people of Nigeria by recognising the acclaimed winner of June 12 election.
“We are grateful for actualising June 12 as Democracy Day. We have always observed June 12 since the beginning of this administration, that is to tell you the passion this government has for MKO,” he said.
The spokesperson, Yoruba Socio-Political group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, commended Buhari for the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, saying that the President should end herdsmen killings across the country.