IBB, OBJ absent as Buhari apologises to Abiola’s family

Former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were both conspicuously absent yesterday at the Special National Honours Investiture and Award Presentation to Heroes of June 12, 1993 polls, presumably won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.
While Obasanjo tendered an apology because of his involvement in a book launch outside the country, Babangida also apologised “because of some prevailing issues” touching on his health conditions.
President Muhammadu Buhari at the event tendered unreserved apology on behalf of the federal government to the family of Moshood Abiola over the annulment of June 12 1993 elections.
He said the decision to hold the event was not to open old wounds but to bury negative sides of June 12 and it ill-feelings, hates, frustration and agony.
President Buhari, therefore, called on all Nigerians across national divides to accept the annulment of the June 12, 1993 poll in good faith.
He said: “I honestly invite all Nigerians across all our national divides to accept it in good faith.
Our action today is to bury the negative sides of June 12, the side of ill feelings, hates, frustration and agony.
“What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive sides of June 12; the June 12 which reinstates democracy and freedom, the June 12, that overcomes our various divides and the June that produces unity and national cohesion.
This is the June 12 we are celebrating today and we will nurture it to our next generation.
“Accordingly, on behalf of the federal government, I tender the nation apology to the family of late MKO Abiola who got the highest votes and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of June 12 struggle.” President Buhari had asked for minute silence in honour of late Abiola and those that died in the struggle for actualisation of June 12.
Ambode’s gesture Meanwhile, Lagos state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday unveiled a 46-feet statue of the nation’s symbol of democracy MKO, expressing optimism that the “monument will forever crystallise what he stood for in his lifetime.” Ambode, who spoke at the unveiling of the statue at the MKO Abiola Garden in Alapere, Ketu, said it was in the tradition of the state government to recognise and remember heroes and heroines who contributed to the greatness of the nation and the state in particular.
He said: “There was a statue done by my predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, but in the divine world, some things are more glorious than what you think and so we decided at the end of 2016 that we should do bigger statues for Chief Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiolasince almost everybody passing and entering Lagos go through this particular Ojota axis and so we started late in 2016 that we should build something bigger and so it took us about a year to do this.
By the time we did the one for Gani to celebrate his posthumous birthday on April 22, we also agreed that we should unveil that of MKO Abiola today, June 12.
“But just as if God has a way of crowning all efforts to mark the 25th Anniversary of June 12, our President, President Muhammadu Buhari has deemed it fit to give our own MKO Abiola the highest honour in the land, GCFR and that is why we believe strongly that your presence here is not just for this statue, but it is also historic which we would always remember in the annals of the history and politics of this country that sooner than later, there would be one day we would mark as MKO Abiola Day.
“We are very happy to gather here today at the MKO Abiola garden to unveil this statue, a monument that will forever crystallise his legacy, serves as a reminder to the greatness that Chief Abiola represents in our socio-political landscape.” He described MKO Abiola as “a man who transcended race, tribe and religion,” adding that the late philanthropist appealed to all Nigerians who voted massively for him during the 1993 Presidential election.
Responding, on behalf of the family, Abiola’s son, Abdul Mumuni, thanked the governor and the Lagos state government for the honour done the Abiola family, saying the statue was indeed befitting to honour his late father.
“God is great.
I heard about this statue six months ago and I was called to come and see it and when I got here, I saw a statue of three-storey building.
This is indeed massive.
The family of late MKO Abiola really appreciates this and we want to thank the Governor,” he said.
Family appreciates Buhari He also appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for posthumous award conferred on his father and declaring June 12 as the Democracy Day, as well as the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for standing solidly behind the struggle.
“We thank the President for doing what he did.
This statue was planned before the President did what he did and so we want to thank Governor Ambode for this,” he said.
The Governor commended Tinubu for being the pioneer Governor to declare public holiday on June 12 throughout his tenure in office, as well as Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola for his steadfastness in upholding the tradition, saying that the “occasion attests to their visionary leadership.” Closest friends, associates Abiola’s daughter, Mrs.
Hafsat Abiola-Costello, has said that immediately his father passed on, his closest friends and other political associates abandoned the familyThe daughter revealed this while speaking Monday night in Abuja at a banquet organised by former Edo state Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and labour unionists in honour of late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, and Abiola.
Hafsat said some people they considered as close friends of their father abandoned them when the June 12 controversy began, only to start calling the family’s phone lines since last week when President Muhammadu Buhari proclaimed June 12 as Democracy Day and conferred a posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic GCFR on the late democrat.“MKO had friends who seemed like friends but they disappeared when the problems started and only started calling us when this award thing came last week.
The phones have been ringing, but 25 years is enough to know your friends.
I want to thank Mr. Femi Falana, Prof. Pat Utomi and a few others for standing by us in the past 25 years,” she said.
Hafsat also spoke of how a former school mate of her late father who had benefitted from his generosity was the first to declare that Abiola was not Nigeria’s Messiah and then went on to become president and refused to honour his late friend for the eight years he was in power.
“There is another story.
MKO hadthis classmate who he used to assist even to pay his fees in school but after June 12, he was the first person to say that MKO was not the Messiah.
And he was president for eight years and couldn’t even mention MKO for once.
He couldn’t honour him. We thank Buhari for this. He does things differently from the way the average Nigerian elite do things.
“I have just been thinking about MKO. To have known him was to know greatness in the body of a Nigerian.
MKO came from a very poor family. He used to be a singer, a drummer and boxer.
People just gave him money not because this voice was good, but perhaps they just took pity on him, a destitute singer.”

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