The Secretary to the Governent of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has revealed that more Nigerians will be honoured.
He made this disclosure while giving the welcome speech at the investiture ceremony for the conferment of national honours on heroes of democracy and the commemoration of June 12 as democracy day at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday morning conferred late MKO Abiola with the nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR) – a honour exclusively conferred only on presidents and former
While Mr Abiola was given a posthumous award GCFR, his then running mate, Babagana Kingibe was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Mr Buhari had last week announced that henceforth, Democracy Day in Nigeria will be celebrated on June 12 and not May 29 each year.
In his remark, Mr Mustapha announced there would be more conferment of national honours on other distinguished Nigerians who also contributed immensely to the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
“Their names and investiture date will be revealed later. These awards serve as a public acknowledgement of their pivotal contribution to nationhood and a further demonstration of this Administration’s commitment to upholding the ethos of democratic governance,” he said.
He also noted that June 12, ”which more than any other day”, symbolises the varied struggles and sacrifices made by fellow citizens of this great nation, ”established democracy as our political system of governance, and opened a new chapter in the political history”.
Later in his remark, Mr Buhari said the decision to honour the trio was not an attempt to open old wounds but to put right a national wrong.
“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,” he said.
He said the decision to recognise and honour June 12 and its actors is in the national interest which is aimed at setting national healing process and reconciliation of the 25 year festering wound caused by the annulment of the June 12 elections.
“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12, the side of ill-feelings, hate, frustrations and agony. What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive side of June 12. The June 12, which restate democracy and freedom. The June 12 that overcome our various divides and the June 12 that produced unity and National cohesion. This is the June 12 we are celebrating today and we will nurture it to our next generation,” he added.
Mr Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential elections was denied his mandate by the Ibrahim Babangida regime. He was thrown into prison by the succeeding dictator, Sani Abacha.
Mr Abiola died in jail in 1998 after a fruitless campaign to secure his mandate from an election described as free and fair..