Twenty-five years after the military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday formally apologised to the family of the deceased who died in custody while struggling to reclaim his mandate.
In turn, the family of the deceased politician also apologised to the President for the wrongs Abiola did to him while he was still alive.
This played out at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where Buhari posthumously conferred the highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic on Abiola.
Also, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka told Buhari to stop showing loyalty to “Abiola’s tormentor.”
At the well-attended ceremony, Buhari also conferred the second highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, on Abiola’s running mate in the election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe; while he also honoured the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the same award posthumously.
Buhari said his decision to revisit the annulled election was not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right what had been done wrongly.
He said it was clear that Abiola was already winning the election when the government of the day inexplicably cancelled it.
He said Nigerians would no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.
We are sorry, Buhari apologises to Abiola’s family
The President said, “Today, I am very happy to be present and to preside over the commemoration and investiture marking the formal Federal Government’s recognition of June 12 as the National Democracy Day.
“The decision and this event are not meant to be and are not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong.
“Nigerians of their own free will voted for late Chief MKO Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, the presidential standard bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party in the 1993 elections.
“The government of the day inexplicably cancelled the elections when it was clear who were going to be the winners.
“We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings; recognise that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and in the future for the sanctity of free elections. Nigerians would no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.
“This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.