LABOUR HAILS PRESIDENT BUHARI ON DECLARATION OF JUNE 12 AS DEMOCRACY DAY

FRONT-PIX-13-6-2016Hail Buhari
Organized Labour has saluted what it called “the courage and sensitivity” of President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring democratic consolidation by posthumously honouring Chief MKO Abiola, acclaimed winner of June 12 1993 Presidential election long demanded for by democratic forces for the past two decades.

In a statement in Kaduna, Comrade Issa Aremu, NEC Member of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and General Secretary of the Textile Workers Union, said by the singular act of conferment of the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Chief MKO Abiola, President Buhari had commendably rekindled faith in sustainability of democracy in Africa’s largest democracy adding that the President “gave the correct signal that never again would any group of people violate the mandate of Nigerian people through mandate annulment” .

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday directed that henceforth Democracy Day will be marked every year on June 12, rather than May 29 which had been observed as Democracy Day since 1999 when the current democratic dispensation began. The shift is in honour of Late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 Presidential election. The June 12 presidential election, described as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history, was annulled by former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida. Though the results of the election were not fully announced before it was annulled, Abiola was believed to have won the election based on collations from all the states. Abiola later died in government detention in pursuit of his mandate. A statement personally signed by President Buhari said Abiola would also be conferred with the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic. The honour reserved for President, would be conferred on the late politician posthumously on June 12, which is the 25th anniversary of the election. Also to be honoured are Abiola’s running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, and late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN. Both would receive the second highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) – which is reserved for Vice President.

Nigeria’s Integrity Restored
Aremu said President Buhari had brought integrity to governance by “shunning the hypocrisy and shameless denials” of past leaders of Nigeria that June 12th was truly a watershed in the struggle for democracy in Nigeria. He said Labour agrees with the administration that “June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 as it was “June 12, 1993 that Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence”.

Comrade Aremu recalled that in 2015 organized Labour had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to offer leadership and build a groundswell of national consensus to posthumously accord acceptable deserved national and global Honour to the winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola and hundreds of other victims of that era of military impunity. The labour leader said by the singular courageous act, President Buhari is putting into closure what he called “June 12 saga”. He said “June 12 spectre” had “repeatedly hunted Nigeria’s democratic process, the president has now “exorcised the specter”. Comrade Aremu observed that given the free and fair election that led to the emergence President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, he was best positioned to rightly “name, shame and damn the criminal annulment of the 1993 presidential election results adjudged to be the most free and fair”. According to him, the distortion and corruption of Nigeria’s democratic aspiration started with the singular annulment of 1993 June 12 free and fair elections. “Since the shameful events of 1993, election riggers had perfected the art of violations of peoples’ mandates through varying subterfuges that included ballot snatching, alteration of electoral rules, falsifications of election results as we witnessed in particular in 2003 and 2007 elections” he observed .

Honor for the Nation
He said the honor for Abiola and others is honor for the nation adding that by dignifying the victims of June 12, Nigeria has invariably damned those behind the decades of impunity in Nigeria.

END.

Filed in: Press release

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