June 12: Buhari Deserves No Praise – Agbakoba, Sowore
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) says President Muhammadu Buhari deserves no praise for declaring June 12 as the new Democracy Day and for honouring late MKO Abiola.
Agbakoba, who is the Co-Chairman of Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM), said it was Abiola's rightful entitlement to be honoured.
Agboka spoke on Tuesday at the Ikeja family home of the Late Abiola to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the annulled June 12, 1993 election.
The event at the late politician’s home was organised by the June 12 Democracy Movement.
The event was one of several organised to commemorate the anniversary of the election, acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, but which was annulled by the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Abiola, who had insisted on his mandate, was later arrested and detained after declaring himself President.
He died on July 7, 1998 on the verge of being released.
At Tuesday’s event, Agbakoba said there is no reason for jubilation over the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day.
According to him, this is because it was MKO Abiola rightful entitlement, declaring: “June 12 declaration is a Greek gift and today’s honour in Abuja is institutional, not because of President Buhari but because MKO Abiola is entitled to it.”
“I don’t laud the President for anything, because this election was won as you know 25 years ago, rather it is people that championed the struggle that deserves the praise,” he added.
Agbakoba said the declaration has political undertone as the 2019 election approaches.
According to him, the President was trying to court the human rights community and the people of the Southwest by the declaration.
He regretted that those who really fought for the return of democratic rule in the country failed to take advantage of the day.
He stated that pro-democracy activists could have taken ownership of the June 12 struggles rather than leaving it for politicians who he stated messed up the country.
He maintained that the country would have been better off, if they did not leave the struggles to the politicians, saying it was a colossal error.
In his comment, the Publisher of Saharareporters, an online news platform, Omoyele Sowore, said praising President Buhari for proclaiming June 12 as Democracy Day will be an injustice to all the people that led the struggle back then.
Sowore, who is contesting for President in 2019, however said Nigerian progressives and activists are awakening to the responsibilities of the people.
“When June 12 was annulled, we accepted that it was our duty and responsibility to fight against the military and lead the struggle for the restoration of democracy but many of us were of the view that politics should be left to the politicians. We believed that our role was to fight tyranny and we made the error of believing that tyranny only wears jackboots and a khaki uniform.”
Sowore noted that President Buhari should ensure that all outstanding entitlements belonging to the late Abiola family, while those found to have been involved in the annulment of the election be punished as those that betrayed Abiola were still having a good time in the country.
“All his outstanding entitlement should be paid to his family and those that e annulled the election should be punished because those that betrayed Abiola are still having a good time in the country.
“I see his June 12 declaration as a political game and going to backfire the same way Jonathan was when he tried to name UNILAG after Abiola. Buhari cannot deceive us that he like Abiola because he did nothing when his election was annulled,” Sowore said.
Other speakers who spoke at the event included former National President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANs), Segun Mayegun, son of the late former Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr Jnail Tafawa Balewa, director of The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof Ishaq Akintola among others.
They all eulogized the late MKO Abiola and urged the government to recognize and honour all those who participated actively in the June 12 struggle.
At the end of the event, late Abiola home was declared as the new Democracy House in Nigeria.