7th June, 2018
MURIC COMMENDS BUHARI FOR DECLARING
JUNE 12 DEMOCRACY DAY
The Federal Government yesterday declared June 12 as Democracy Day. It also posthumously awarded the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election. His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, the indefatigable promoter of human rights and the man who fought relentlessly for the actualization of the June 12th elections and indeed for democracy in general, is to be awarded the GCON.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) received this great news with great joy. We are overwhelmed with emotions. This is the boldest step ever taken by any civilian administration since 1999. We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for identifying with democratic and progressive elements in this country. The recognition of June 12 is another strong evidence of ‘change’. It further cements Buhari’s forthrightness, courage, love of justice and flair for fairplay.
June 12th, 1993 was the day Nigerians in their millions expressed their democratic will in the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since independence. But greedy, selfish and tyrannical elements in the military annulled that election and held the winner captive and incommunicado for four years (1994 – 1998).
His wife, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, who was the greatest heroine of Nigeria’s democracy, was killed in the most bizarre manner while the husband was still in detention. Worse still, the military totalitarian dictators made sure that MKO Abiola, the hero of democracy, died in captivity (July 1998). Nothing could have out-Heroded Herod than the brutalization of the Abiola family and the destabilization of the MKO Abiola family business.
MURIC has always held that May 29th which was picked by previous regimes to mark Democracy Day was fraudulent and that June 12 was far more truly symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context. To this end, we have issued statements every year since 1999 demanding the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and condemning the celebration of democracy on May 29. We appreciate the Federal Government for eventually sharing this sentiment. It is, indeed, a great achievement for us.
We doff our hats for the family of the late Chief MKO Abiola especially for their tenacity, doggedness and forbearance in the face of severe trials sequel to the criminal annulment of the results of the June 12, 1993 election and the assassination of MKO. We still grieve over the cruel killing of both MKO and Kudirat, his loving wife. We beseech Allah to forgive the couple, to grant them Al-Jannah and to continue to strengthen their families.
We send special solidarity message to Muhammed Fawehinmi, son of late Gani Fawehinmi and his mother, Mrs. Ganiyat Fawehinmi, who is indubitably a leading Nigerian amazon and the entire Fawehinmi family.
We also congratulate all Nigerians for this landmark decision. In particular, and with the Campaign for Democracy (CD) foremost on our mind, we felicitate with civil society and all human rights activists. In this respect, we single out late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, foremost leader of the CD, the tireless lawyer, humanist and human rights activist, Femi Falana SAN and Dr. Sylvester Odion Akhaine, CD’s first secretary general.
This singular action has marked out President Buhari as a true democrat and a champion of liberty. It belies the allegation of dictatorial tendency leveled against Buhari by his critics. Buhari has taken a step in the right direction and his name will be written in letters of gold in the hall of fame. It is most thoughtful and highly visionary. Buhari has delivered a major dividend of democracy. He has also hearkened to the yearnings of the people.
But to whom much is given, much is expected. Having proved level-headed, transparent, accountable, prudent and truly democratic, the present administration deserves the support of all Nigerians. Nay, a second term to enable it cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s.
This epoch-making decision should placate not only members of the old National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) but also Afenifere, all Egba sons and daughters and the Yoruba as a whole. Contrary to the misleading belief that Yorubas are marginalized, a Northerner, nay, a Fulani president has recognized a Yoruba hero. Not only that, a Yoruba man is the current number two citizen, a Yoruba man holds three powerful ministries: power, works and housing. This is in addition to two other major portfolios, viz, finance and communications held by two other prominent Yoruba citizens. The Yoruba never had it so rosy.
Yet like Oliver Twist, MURIC will ask for more from the father of this great nation, President Muhammadu Buhari. The declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day will definitely heal wounds and we appeal that another giant step should be taken to heal more wounds. We are referring to the case of Ken Saro Wiwa, the environmental activist of the Niger Delta. His case still hurts the Ogoni people in particular and the Niger Delta region in general.
We in MURIC believe that the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa was extra-judicial, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional. Ken was murdered in his prime before his appeal was due. His killing was one of the unwise and unpatriotic actions taken by the military to fuel the hatred of one Nigerian ethnic group for another. We appeal to Mr. President to review his case, grant him presidential pardon, compensate his family adequately and give him a posthumous award of no less a status than the one given Gani Fawehinmi.
On a last note, MURIC affirms that the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day confirms the good intention of this administration. It confirms that this regime is prepared to reward hardwork, honesty and integrity. We therefore ask for prayers in all churches and mosques for Nigeria to overcome all obstacles, for peace to reign in the land, for love to permeate all nooks and cranies of our great country and for divine wisdom and guidance for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)