Biggest recognition for MKO Abiola as Buhari’s inauguration gets underway

On June 6, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari made a declaration in honour of Late MKO Abiola, the winner of June 1993 Presidential election by announcing that henceforth, Nigeria’s Democracy Day would be holding on June 12 of every year as against May 29.

The president also resolved to honour the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, with the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.

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For the first time since the President made the announcement first inauguration will hold in 2019, and the APC-led government said Buhari’s second term in office will be inaugurated on May 29, with low-key ceremony, with inauguration rituals shifted to June 12.

It will be the first national Democracy Day.

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, world leaders were expected to on June 12 to mark the day.

According to The Sun, Mohammed, while briefing State House correspondents on the plans for inauguration said: President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for the second term on May 29, will be a low key affair as the number of the events slated for the inauguration will now be held on the first observance of June 12, as the national Democracy Day.

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“The decision to have a low-key inauguration for the president was taken at the meeting of Federal Executive Council of Wednesday May 8, 2019.

“Invitations have been sent to all world leaders to attend the ceremonies marking the observance of the Democracy Day on June 12.

“Since the first observance of Democracy Day falls on an election year, and as a measure to sustain June 12 as Democracy Day, the celebration of the inauguration and the advancement of democracy in the country will now take place on June 12,” The Sun quoted him as saying.

He said details of the events slated for the two ceremonies would be unveiled at a world press conference slated for May 20 in Abuja.

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Recalled in 2018, Buhari had said “For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29, as Democracy Day. That was the date when, for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 21, 1979.

“But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even the October 1.

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“June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence.

“The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process,” The Punch said.

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“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.

“Therefore, government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled elections.

“His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON.

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“Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and indeed for democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN is to be awarded the GCON.

“The investiture will take place on Tuesday June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.”

The late Abiola died in detention while struggling to actualise his mandate as contained in the annulled election.