Leaders of the hometown of the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola, have called for 14 extra days in office for President Muhammadu Buhari so that future inauguration of the Nigerian President will coincide with June 12.
The inauguration day has been May 29 since 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as the first president of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.
But the traditional ruler of Gbagura in Ogun State, Halidu Laloko, at a press conference on Monday said it has become necessary to shift the handover date forward by two weeks “to properly actualise the June 12, 1993 annulment date and immortalise MKO Abiola who sacrificed his life because of Nigerian Democracy.”
The Federal Government last week announced a posthumous conferment of the highest national honour of Grand Commander Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR) on Mr Abiola and declared June 12 the new Democracy Day instead of May 29.
The National Assembly supported the pronouncement with a resolution asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Mr Abiola winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential poll.
In addition, the lawmakers asked the Federal Government to declare Mr Abiola an ex-president and pay all the entitlements due to a former president to his family.
The Gbagura monarch, who was represented at the press conference by Adio Baiyewun, the Balogun of Ojoo-Gbagura, lauded President Buhari and the National Assembly for their decisions.
He said his people were happy that truth had triumphed over injustice in the Abiola saga.
“We see this as victory of truth over injustice, and as people of Gbagura and Ogun State at large, we are extremely glad that Mr President has finally done what is just and fair with the posthumous award of GCFR on late Abiola and the declaration of June 12 as proper Democracy Day and a Public Holiday in Nigeria,” he said.
“We equally applaud the National Assembly led by the Senate for directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to formally declare Chief MKO Abiola winner and as an Ex-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with all his entitlements fully paid’, the monarch stated.
“We also passionately request the National Assembly to take a second look at the President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposal on June 12 and demand that, for proper actualisation and immortalisation of the date and Abiola, there is need to support Mr President on the need to replace the hitherto Public Holiday of May 29 and celebration as well as Handover Day with June 12 since the date marks a watershed in the Nigerian political history,”
Another high chief of the community, Bode Mustapha, urged Mr Buhari to send an executive bill to the National Assembly for constitutional backing of an amendment to the President’s Handover Day and Democracy Celebration.
Mr Mustapha, a former member of the House of Representatives, said, “because of the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature, we appeal to the President to forward an Executive Bill to the National Assembly, taking into cognizance of the circumstances that led to the annulment of the June 12 election and the importance of that day and date as the watershed of the democracy of this nation.”
“He should send the Bill to the National Assembly changing the Democracy Day. Once it has been sent to the National Assembly and it becomes law, it extends the tenure of the present government and the National Assembly only by a couple of days. And there will be no disparity again in the Democracy Day and Handover Date.”
Mr Mustapha said such a step would heal the wounds inflicted on the nation by the annulment of the election and to put the matter to rest.
“The process will give restitution to the families of late Chief MKO Abiola who was the first Bobagunwa of Egbaland, a position which I have the opportunity to occupy today’.