By: SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that Nigerians would not longer tolerate such perversion of justice as witnessed in June 12 where an election was annulled and the winner denied victory.
The president made the remarks during the commemoration and investiture honouring the heroes of June 12,1993 general election at the presidential Villa, Abuja.
He expressed happiness to be present and to preside over the Commemoration and Investiture, marking the official Federal Government recognition of June 12 as National Democracy Day.
According to him, the decision and this event is not meant to be and is not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong noting that Nigerians of their own free will voted for Late Chief MKO Abiola and Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe, the Presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1993 elections.
He stated that the government of the day inexplicably cancelled the elections when it was clear who were going to be the winners.
He said ” We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings; recognize that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and in the future for the sanctity of free elections. Nigerians would no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.
“This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.
” Our decision to recognize and honour June 12 and its actors is in the national interest. It is aimed at setting national healing process and reconciliation of the 25 year festering wound caused by the annulment of the June 12th elections. I earnestly invite all Nigerians across all our national divide to accept it in good faith.
Buhari said the Federal Government action today is to bury the negative side of June 12, the side of ill-feelings, hate, frustrations and agony.
According to him “What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive side of June 12. The June 12, which restate democracy and freedom. The June 12 that overcome our various divide and the June 12 that produced 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 cause of June 12 struggle.
” At this juncture, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like everybody present to stand and observe a minute silence in honour of the memory of Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi and indeed all those who lost their lives in the struggle of June 12 1993. Thank you all and God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On his part ,the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed that President Buhari has approved that more Nigerians should be conferred with national honours for their contributions to democracy.
He however did not disclose the identities of the awardees.
“Further announcement on this will be made shortly,” Mustapha said in his welcome address at the ceremony attended by dignitaries across the country.