The United Kingdom chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as Democracy Day to score political point ahead of 2019 elections.
The chapter was reacting to claims by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Buhari was desperate to win next year’s election and hence his declaration of the day to honour the late MKO Abiola.
Leader of the party in the UK, Ade Omole, says the recognition of June 12 was long overdue.
Omole said that it was only a President with a large heart that could take such a decision.
He lauded the president for the decision to posthumously confer the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) honour on late Chief MKO Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Buhari had on his twitter handle, said, ”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.
”The running mate, Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be honoured with a Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).”
Abiola, who contested the June 12 presidential election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), defeated his opponent, Bashir Tofa, of the then National Republican Convention (NRC).
The election was said to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest by national and international observers, with Abiola, a Southern Muslim, winning even in Kano, his opponent’s home state, and most states of the federation.
But the election was annulled by then Military President, Ibrahim Babaginda, two weeks after the poll.
It was a development that caused political crisis which led to late General Sani Abacha seizing power.
In 1994, Abiola announced himself as the lawful President of Nigeria and was afterwards declared wanted and subsequently arrested on a charge of treasonable felony.
He died on 7 July, 1998, while being detained by the military government under Abacha.