Human rights activisits, pro-democracy groups and other groups based in Osun State on Wednesday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari administration for deeming it fit to declare June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.
They also celebrated the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO), and his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, for their dogged struggle towards attaining democracy in the nation.
The activists, under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Group, had stormed major street of Osogbo, the state capital, as early as 7.am to mark this year’s June 12 democracy day.
The activists, numbering about 5,000, commended Buhari for honouring Abiola, and Kingibe.
While backing the declaration of June 12 as the new democracy day, the activists called on Buhari to issue executive order mandating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC, then National Electoral Commission, NEC) to declare the results of the 1993 presidential election.
Comrade Waheed Lawal, State Coordinator Justice Now Foundation (JNF), said all the human rights groups had resolved that Buhari should declare Abiola and Kingibe as ex-president and former vice-president respectively.
He further said the Buhari administration should also approve the entitlements due to them as former president and vice-president, respectively.
“This is the first time since the history of our struggle for actualisation of this historic date in our national history as a people that the government will be celebrating June 12.
“This is a very momentous day that we can never be quick to forget, because of its democratic significance as a day Nigerians defied every devisive tendencies to elect Bashorun MKO Abiola as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a mass accepted, free, fair and transparent Presidential election on June 12,1993.
“We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the people of Nigeria, civil societies, human rights and other pressure groups for sustaining the tempo of agitation for a national recognition of this day as democracy day in Nigeria.
“But, for the people and their determination never to give up even in the face of jackboot dictatorship, the Federal Government’s recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day may remain impossible. We, therefore congratulate Nigerians who are the real winners.”
Comrade Amitolu Shittu, Chairman, Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People (CDRP) said the only way by which Abiola’s name could be immortalised was for the Federal Government to declare him ex-president.
Shittu added that Abiola laid down his life for the emancipation and libration of people of the country, saying Abiola would remain the hero and icon of true democracy.