- Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida absent
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday 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 he 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 election in 1993.
Buhari also tendered national apologies to all those who struggled for the actualization 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 recognize that an error has been committed.
“We will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.
“This honour if 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.
Mr Kola Abiola and his sister Hafsat Biola spoke on behalf of the family of MKO Abiola, saluting Buhari for the honour done to the gladiators of June 12 and for honouring their father.
Hafsat said “Today is important because it presents the unity of Nigeria.”
She appealed to all politicians to appreciate Nigerians, in her words, “I urge all Nigerians to support President Buhari.”
Meanwhile Nigeria’s ex-presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida were noticeably absent at a ceremony for the conferment of National honours on the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, and others.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF Boss Mustapha, on Tuesday informed the gathering that the two ex-presidents expressed regrets for their individual absence at the august event.
Mustapha spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, venue of the posthumous investiture on Chief Moshood Abiola as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic; his running-mate, Babagana Kingibe as Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON, and late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, also as GCON.
“Further announcement on this will be made shortly,” Mustapha said in his welcome address at the ceremony attended by dignitaries across the country.