President Muhammadu Buhari has apologised to the family of the late Chief Moshood Abiola over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. He offered the apology while conferring Abiola with the nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Admonishing Nigerians to accept the gesture in good faith, the president explained that the decision to recognise and honour June 12 and its actors is in the national interest and also not to open old wounds but to right a national wrong.
The president also conferred Kingibe and the late rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
Notable absentees from the event were: Babangida, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and June 12 electoral umpire, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu.
Son of the late Fawehinmi, Mohammed, described Buhari as the most sensitive and reasonable Head of State; one who listens to his people and acts accordingly. He also commended the president for attempting to right past wrongs and described June 12 as the foundation of democracy in the country. He said the recognition was a symbolic demonstration of the country’s unity irrespective of tribal, religious or ethnic affiliations.
Kingibe also praised the president for his courage at recognising the historic day. He said this proved Buhari a fair-minded man of conviction.
Receiving the award on behalf of his late father, Kola Abiola commended Buhari for the gesture, saying: “We accept both the award and the apology. The honour would go a long way to strengthen the country’s democracy and guarantee the future by reconciling the peoples’ past.”
Former President of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu, said contrary to perceptions that Buhari is unforgiving, his position on June 12 has shown he has “a large heart.”
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, praised Buhari’s “courageous determination,” saying the country’s democracy has been “furthered and strengthened.”
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, appreciated the fact that the honour finally came, but noted it was with an eye on electoral fortune.