Veteran journalist and Abuja-based media consultant, Olu Akerele, has reiterated his appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to honour late MKO Abiola with the nation’s highest award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
In a memorial message to mark the 23rd anniversary of the watershed June 12, 1993 presidential election which Mr. Abiola overwhelmingly won, Mr. Akerele noted that the late business mogul paid the supreme price and ought to be rewarded with the highest national honour for leading the struggle for democracy in Nigeria.
He argued that although the honour of GCFR is reserved for former presidents in the country, Mr. Abiola deserved it having been voted unreservedly by Nigerians all over the nation no matter their calling, region or religion.
He said a precedent had been set for such honour when former President Shehu Shagari awarded it in 1982 to Obafemi Awolowo for the role he played in the growth of the country even though the late sage was not installed as president.
Mr. Akerele argued that Mr. Abiola won an election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria, spanning across regional, ethnic and religious barriers; and needed to be recognised posthumoursly as a nationalist and president.
Mr. Abiola, he maintained, “was aware of the herculean task he faced in actualising his mandate, but plodded on until his premeditated death in the hands of reactionists.
“For paying the supreme price for democracy to thrive, he needs to be
accorded the highest honour the nation reserves for its heroes,” the veteran journalists, who was special adviser to Mr. Abiola, added.
Mr. Akerele urged Mr. Buhari “to recognise the supreme sacrifice Abiola paid for democracy, and grant him the deserved honour to serve as incentive
to aspiring nationalists.”
He also appealed to progressives across the country, particularly those who ensured the actualisation of democracy from the grip of the military in Nigeria, to team up to ensure the stabilisation of the polity.
He noted that progressives such as Bola Tinubu, Umar Dangiwa, Shehu Sani, Kayode Fayemi, Wole Soyinka, Alani Akinrinade, Frank Kokori, Segun Osoba, Ndubuisi Kanu, Ralph Obiora, Femi Falana, Ayo Adebanjo, among others, who were ardent colleagues of Abiola, had shown their bent for the late leaders’ vision by aligning forces with Mr. Buhari, adding that honouring him would heighten his worth and that of his followers.
He applauded President Buhari for the steps taken so far in the recovery of looted public funds, and appealed to the judiciary to raise its momentum to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
He also urged the President to expedite action in ensuring that the recovered funds were dispassionately released to the different arms of government for the execution of development projects.
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