President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, openly apologized to the late Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the June12, 1993 presidential election, for the injustice done to him by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military junta. This is even as he assured that “Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of Justice again.
The election of June12, 1993 poll said to be the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history was annulled by the military president, Gen. Babangida.
President Buhari tendered the apology at the investiture of Chief Abiola as Grand Commandeer of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) at the State House Conference Centre, the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“On behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola, who got the highest vote (in the election) and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of the June 12, President Buhari said before getting guests to observe a minute’s silence in honour of those who died.
He said the ceremony was not intended to open old wounds, but to right the wrongs of the past.
According to him, the decision to honour MKO Abiola and to declare June 12 Democracy Day followed years of clamour by the activists, statesmen, groups as well as the family, associates, and friends of the late businessman and politician should be accepted “in good faith” as this will help the nation move forward.
“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 ease the future for the sanctity of free elections,” he said.
“Nigerians will 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.”
Buhari added that by moving past the negatives of the struggle, Nigerians would be able to fully benefit from June12.
“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June12- side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12,” he said.
“Nigerians, of their own freewill, voted for Chief MKO Abiola, and Babagana Kingibe – the presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party in the 1993 elections.”
He accused the government of the day of cancelling the elections when it was clear who was going to be the winners.
At the event, the late Chief Gani Fawenhinmi and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, were also conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).