Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has said that President Buhari would be fondly remembered for one thing, after he might have left office for giving June 12 a significant place in the national diary, as the rightful Democracy Day.
Fayemi added that it was more rewarding that the symbol of the June 12 struggle, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993 election whom the previous administrations had refused to recognize, had been duly acknowledged by the President as indeed, the undisputable winner of the election.
The governor, while speaking on the significance of the day, said: ” President Buhari did not stop there, he also awarded, posthumously, the highest honour in the land, generally conferred on presidents, the award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), on him.
“This symbolic gesture has provided a psycho-social healing for the people who sacrificed, including their lives, for the enthronement of democracy.
“The declaration of June 12 as our National Democracy Day therefore, means for me, a significant and courageous move to further enculturate accountability even about knotty and unresolved historical issues of national importance. One therefore has to commend the president for this historical righting of a wrong past”.
Fayemi added that as one of the protagonists of the June 12 Struggle himself, that he felt fulfilled and appreciated the recognition granted the day by the present administration.
Fayemi said the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha initially construed to be a corrective one to promptly conclude the transition process truncated by the Babangida junta before it became violently truculent and embarked on a scotched earth destruction of pro-democracy figures.
Reeling out the significance of June 12, Fayemi added: “For example the processes that led to the fielding of Basorun MKO Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was a major milestone in our walk to a nation where religion did not signpost our electoral decision. Both presidential candidate and his running mates were Muslims.
“Even though Abiola was a Yoruba man from Abeokuta Ogun State, he defeated his National Republican Party’s rival, Alhaji Bashir Tofa in his Kano state base. This greatly showed that the idea of tribal bloc voting did not play a strong role in the election. So, a new nation was in the womb of time, waiting to be born until the midwife did the unthinkable.”
Fayemi saluted those behind the formation of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), like Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Pa Alfred Rewane, Anthony Enahoro, Abraham Adesanya, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Olu Falae, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Air Cmdr Dan Suleiman (rtd), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Olusegun Osoba and others over the role I June 12 struggle.
He stated: “The greatest take away from June 12 is that of the possibility of a new Nigeria where our so-called fault lines would no longer matter as our best lines”.
Also, a member of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has said a deep reflection on the ill-fated struggles for the actualisation of democratic rule for Nigeria through the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, confirmed that the bond of unity among Nigerians was strong and invincible.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, said the lingering crisis that trailed the annulment of the Nigeria’s freest and fairest June 12,1993 presidential election, was devoid of religious and tribal sentiments, which he said signposted that Nigerians were fantastically united in thought and spirit.
Saluting the martyrs and victims of the presidential election in a statement commemorating the Democracy Day Celebration, Bamidele described the supposed winner of the botched election, Chief MKO Abiola and other pro-democracy Nigerians who lost their lives as the real pillars of the country’s democracy.
“The June 12, 1993 was so symbolic in Nigeria’s political history. It represented a day when all Nigerians eschewed ethnic and tribal considerations and voted a candidate of their choices in the most recognisable democratic fashion.
“The fact that the late Abiola of the Social Democratic Party and a Yoruba man of the Southwest extraction could win in Kano, where his Chief opponent , Alhaji Bashir Tofa hailed from, indicated that the poor masses cared less about ethnicity and tribalism.
“After the cancellation of the result by the then Military Junta, the people across South, West, East and Northwest, East and Central stood in unity to condemn the action and they all called for the revalidation of the poll results.
“The lesson from this was that, our leaders should stop misleading the masses through divisive tribal and ethnic politics .
“An average Nigerian cares less about tribe, all they quest for is improved standard of living from any leader, wherever he may have come from.
“The task now for our leaders is to devise ways of healing the wound inflicted on our nation by politicians, who looked for ethnic and religious faultlines to rip the country apart.
“Our leaders must return us to the pre and pro June 12, 1993 days for our nation to regain its strength of unity and bounce back to global reckoning as a nation that waxes stronger in unity”, Bamidele counseled.