The Abiola family has written to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for awarding the nation’s highest honour to their patriarch, MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 June 12 presidential election.
Mr Buhari announced the award on Wednesday and also declared June 12 as democracy day starting from 2019, shifting the date from May 29.
The decision has drawn mixed reactions from Nigerians. Mr Buhari also honoured late activist, Gani Fawehinmi, and Mr Abiola’s vice presidential candidate, Babagana Kingibe.
In a letter to the president, dated June 6, 2018, Mr Abiola’s son, Kola, said he was appreciating the decision on behalf of the family.
“Your Excellency, as I wrote in my letter to you on June 12, 2016, in our minds, the award was the only befitting recognition of the importance of Chief Abiola’s fight for democracy for Nigeria which culminated in 4 years incarceration/solitary confinement and decimation of his business and financial interests, before the ultimate sacrifice, being his life on July 7, 1998 at the age of 60,” he wrote.
“Your Excellency, your decision to also designate June 12 as Democracy Day rights the wrongs done to all the nation-builders and heroes that produced that produced the democratic credentials on which the Nigerian polity now thrives. We are profoundly grateful to the people from all corners of Nigeria that worked tirelessly to ensure the freest and fair elections in our nation’s history in 1993, fought valiantly for the Hope ’93 mandate given to Bashorun Abiola by the Nigerian people and died trying to protect the mandate.”
“Mr President, I thank you earnestly for heeding our plea where others before you did not, whilst conveying the assurances of my highest esteem.”