MKO Abiola was presumed the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was globally adjudged as free and fair.
The election was annulled by the Head of State, at the time, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
MKO Abiola was presumed the winner of the presidential election that was adjudged free and fair.
In honour of Abiola, President Buhari announced that Democracy Day will be commemorated on June 12 instead of May 29.
The President’s declaration was greeted with applause and commendations from a cross section of Nigerians, especially on social media.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in its reaction, said that Buhari used the declaration to gain political leverage.
Shehu, in a statement, said that Mr. President took the elite that conspired to pull Abiola down by surprise.
He said “Chinese proverb says: Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil. This short proverb sums the intensity of attacks against President Muhammadu Buhari, not leaving the ratcheting up of violence in some of the States after a period of relative calm, in the wake of the political tsunami honouring the heroes of June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was annulled thus preventing the widely-acclaimed winner, Chief M.K.O Abiola (of blessed memory) from taking office as the President of Nigeria.
“Even at that time, it was pretty obvious that the unjust annulment was a huge elite conspiracy, well beyond the schemes and machinations, for which the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida had established a formidable reputation.
“June 12 annulment was inspired and supported in spirit, cash and in kind by high-level citizens who saw an opportunity for themselves and cashed in upon it.”
According to the President’s media aide, Babangida was held at gunpoint and forced to annul the June 12, 1993 election.
Shehu also alleged that some Yorubas were involved in the plot not to announce Abiola as the winner of the presidential election.
He said “Beyond the coterie of two dozen or so military officials whose names have been documented as literally having had a gun to the head of their Commander-in-Chief in trying to induce the annulment, there were tens, possibly hundreds of co-conspirators who either forced the annulment in one way or the other, or joined the sustenance of the injustice done to Abiola and Nigerian voters which, from then evolved into an industry of a kind, supplying incomes and conferring privileges of state upon those in the plot.
“Many have forgotten by now that an interim government was contemplated at that time and a number of retired army generals were on queue, having been invited to get ready to head it. There was the foremost social scientist of the Yoruba stock who prophesied to the then rulers, on the day the announcement of election results was suspended that “the Yoruba will not be angry with the Head of State if he will go ahead to annul the election.
“Remember that since the incident took place, no past administration in 25 years has asked the question, why was the election annulled? Who annulled it? What were the consequences? Beyond Abiola and his late wife Kudirat, how many people did the nation lose? In terms of the economy, how much was lost? How much of a dislocation was it, socially, politically and internationally? Overall, how much damage did it cause the nation?
“Now would there be an inquisition into all of the things that happened? I have not been briefed if there is going to be any. Neither have I heard of any discussions on this. I cannot, therefore, speculate.
“Understandably, anger against the new Democracy Day and honour to Abiola in a few quarters, the intensity of attack on President’s person would mount as the momentum he gains becomes manifest, even as we recognize that the opposition had been gearing up for offensive towards 2019 elections.”
Shehu, who described the President’s declaration as a master stroke, said those criticising Buhari are afraid that they will be irrelevant when corruption is wiped out.
He also took out time to highlight some the administrations achievements, saying “In normal times, even before the shocking master stroke honouring Abiola, President Buhari is a leader who had not been in the good reckoning of a powerful, very vocal section of the country’s elite.
“The reason is basically that they would lose when you put in place corruption-free governance, institute economic growth with special focus on farmers, and a strong drive for inclusiveness particularly regarding women and marginalised sections.
“The Buhari Administration has annoyed these groups by putting in place long neglected infrastructure, establishing a social welfare scheme, the Social Investment Programme targeted at the basic needs of the common citizens and has given the country a major jump in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings."
“Railways and federal roads are being rehabilitated and new ones, including a standard gauge rail are being put in place to bring better and more efficient transportation services. Power generation and distribution have more than doubled with many consumers reporting 16-17 hours and in some parts of the country, actually enjoying up to 22-23 hours of power supply a day.
“Foreign relations have improved and the awesome investments in defence and security sectors are paying off through peaceful economic activity in the Niger Delta and the on-going restoration of normalcy in the northeast and north central states.
“President Buhari’s journey to the Presidential Villa had been long and tortuous– having contested three times and ended with appeals at the Supreme Court before he was fourth time lucky. A candidate many had taken as the unlikely one considering that he had been a man who is separate from the political establishment. That he emerged at the contest as winner was itself enough to rattle the political elite.
“If you read the history of our country, hardly do we have the top elite joining hands for the good of the nation. While Buhari’s tsunami on June 12 has stoked the anger and the fear of this group, the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the conferment of National Honours on MKO, his running mate Ambassador Kingibe and the foremost pro-democracy activist, late Gani Fawehinmi was, in another breath, greeted with great enthusiasm and warmth by Nigerians, most especially on the social media,” he added.
Meanwhile, late Chief MKO Abiola’s contender in the 1993 presidential election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa has called on Buhari to reconsider his declaration of June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day.
Tofa said Buhari’s declaration should not be hurriedly done.
Tofa was the presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC).