Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday honoured the heroes of democracy and tendered a national apology for the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election.
President Buhari apologised to the family of late Chief (MKO) Moshood Abiola, for the annulment of the election, which was adjudged to have been won by the latter.
Chief MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe were the candidates of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1993 contest.
President Buhari also tendered national apologies to all those who struggled for the realisation of the election, including journalists.
The president personally presented awards to Mr Kola Abiola, son of MKO Abiola; Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi, wife of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi; and Mr Babagana Kingigbe, who was Mr Abiola's running mate.
Open old wounds
The late Abiola was awarded the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), the highest honour bestowed on elected presidents.
Chief Kingibe and Chief Fawehinmin received the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger,
President Buhari said the ceremony was not to open old wounds of the inexplicable annulment of the election.
“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 in healing the wounds and building national reconciliation of the 25 years caused by the annulment.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“I earnestly urge Nigerians to accept it in good faith and bury the past of June 12."
President Buhari declared a minute of silence in honour of the victims of June 12.
Mr Kola Abiola and his sister Hafsat Abiola spoke on behalf of their family, saluting President Buhari for the honouring their father and the other gladiators.
The annulment of the election led to "bloodshed, serious division and disunity in Nigeria,’’ Alhaji Bola Tinubu, one of the key players for the actualisation of the mandate, said.
The National leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) said at the presidential villa that the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day was a demonstration of the resolve by the people to collaborate to drive democracy.
The Electoral Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Iginni, accused Nigerian elite of causing the crisis in the country.
"The elite are the problems of Nigeria and they remain the problem.
"The fingers of providence have continue to point to Nigeria as unjust nation.’
Chief Earnest Shonekan was later declared the head of the interim national government to supplant the June 12 election.
Mr Joe Igbokwe, a politicians and social analyst, also berated the annulment of June 12 election.
He praised President Buhari for the recognition, adding that he was truly building Nigeria.
"Buhari is washing Nigeria with soap,’’ he said.