The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his sacrifice and determination to honour the late Chief MKO Abiola with the post-humous award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Abiola was the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which was annulled by then-military Head of State, GeneralIbrahim Babangida. After Abiola refused to give up his mandate, he was imprisoned in 1994 and died in custody under suspicious circumstances on July 7, 1998, four years after his arrest.
While speaking during the investiture ceremony of the award at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Mustapha said it was Buhari's determination that made the occasion a possibility. According to him, the president has brought closure to an issue that has been problematic for 25 years.
He said, "Thank you Mr President for this great sacrifice, resolve and determination that you've exhibited in bringing closure to the issues that have contended with out nationahood in the last 25 years. Mr President deserves a round of applause for bringing a closure to this matter."
President Buhari later took to the podium to award the GCFR title to the late Abiola, an award that was received on his behalf by his son, Kola.
He also awarded Abiola's 1993 running mate Baba Gana Kingibe with a Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) title, an award he also bestowed on the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) for his human rights agitation for the actualisation of the June 12th elections.
Buhari apologises to MKO Abiola's family for his death
While speaking during the ceremony, President Buhari apologised to the family of the late Abiola, on behalf of the federal government, for his death in the struggle to hold on to his mandate.
He said, "On behalf of the federal government, I tender the nation's 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."
At the end of his speech, the president asked everyone in the Conference Hall to stand for a one-minute silence in honour of MKO Abiola, Fawehinmi, and all those who lost their lives in the aftermaths of the annulled election.