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Akinyemi: Acts of illegality delayed Abiola’s GCFR

Akinyemi: Acts of illegality delayed Abiola’s GCFR
June 10
15:39 2018

Bolaji Akinyemi, a professor and ex-member of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), says the honour bestowed on Moshood Abiola  is not illegal.

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari honoured Abiola with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and declared June 12 as Democracy Day.

In May 1994, democrats who pressed the military regime of Sani Abacha to step down for Abiola, formed NADECO.

It was on that basis Abiola declared himself president. He was later arrested and died in detention in July 1998.


Mixed reactions have since trailed Buhari’s decision to honour Abiola.

In a statement on Sunday, Akinyemi said Abiola earned GCFR when he won the election in 1993.

“The legality of the executive order which has been raised is not tenable and is a red herring. First is the issue of precedence. President Shagari awarded a national honour posthumously to Chief Israel Adebajo and his son collected it on his behalf,” he said.


“Secondly, the award cannot be subject to strict legal interpretation. I would rather suggest a Dennington approach where determination is based on the need to achieve justice.

“MKO Abiola was elected in 1993 when he was still alive and remained alive for six more years. That is when he earned the GCFR. Acts of illegality prevented him from being decorated with it. Those acts of illegality have just been annulled.

“As a member of NADECO in its heyday when it was most dangerous to be a member, June 6 marked the fulfillment of dreams, and the achievement of visions.

“On that day, President Muhammed Buhari recognised the validity of the June 12 1993 presidential elections, declared Chief MKO Abiola as the winner of that election, conferred national honours on MKO Abiola, his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, the human rights activist Gani Fawehinmi and declared June 12 democracy day.


“The declaration of June 12 as democracy day is a victory for all Nigerians and not just for those who voted for MKO Abiola. The voting pattern on June 12 1993 sealed the cleavages that have bedevilled Nigeria since the unification by Lugard. The annulment of the election results reopened and deepened those cleavages. I recognise and accept that the June 6 Presidential Executive Order has applied some balm on these cleavages and therefore should be welcomed as a national rather than a sectional victory.”

The professor urged Buhari to “remember other Nigerians who also played active roles in the struggle.

“People like Dan Suleiman, Ndubisi Kanu, Frank Kokori, John Oyegun, Dr. Akingba, Bagauda Kaltho and others deserve national honours in future exercises,” he said.

“The courage of the president in tackling this issue should be acknowledged. As the deputy chairman of the 2014 National Conference, I recall that when the issue of June 12 was raised, it almost tore the Conference apart.


“I also recall that the issue of June 12 had been raised in different sessions of the national assembly without resolution.

“That it took President Buhari to resolve this issue is a manifestation of what social scientists call the Nixon-China syndrome. It took a rabid anti-communist like Richard Nixon to extend diplomatic relations to China without the fear of being labelled a communist. It has taken a Buhari, who nobody can accuse of pandering to the south and who is trusted by the north to do justice to June 12.”



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