Two-time Governor of Ogun State Mr Olusegun Osoba said: “I am very happy and highly elated. It is a major thing to accept Abiola as president of Nigeria not sworn in. The honour of GCFR is reserved for presidents. Mr Obafemi Awolowo, who was the best president we never had, got it also without being president. I salute the President for the honour given to Mr Baba Gana Kingibe. GCON is always given to vice presidents.
“The acceptance of June 12 as ‘Democracy day’ is in recognition of the supreme price Abiola paid. It has elevated Abiola to the status of an international figure like Martin Luther King, who fought for justice and liberation in the United States.”
“The decision is commendable and proper. I hope Nigerians will learn from it. June 12 was a watershed. We were united as a country to end military rule. We shunned our differences to vote for Abiola. The election was peaceful. Buhari has the courage to do the right thing, which some thought was difficult. June 12 is the proper “Democracy Day” in Nigeria when people put their differences away.
“MKO Abiola sacrificed himself for the country. Chairman of electoral commission at that time admitted that Abiola actually won the election. Therefore, I support the president on this. It is commendable because June 12 was a watershed.”
A former Chief Whip of House of Representatives Mr. Olawale Oshun applauded the president, saying he had succeeded where former President Olusegun Obasanjo failed.
Oshun, a former Secretary of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and Afenifere: “It is a great day for democracy. Giving Abiola and Fawehinmi the highest honours is in appreciation of the sacrifices made by members of civil society groups. It is a honour for the people shot along Ikorodu Road, Lagos by the military during protests against the annulment. It has been late in coming. The first civilian president in this dispensation ought to have taken the decision. But, we are grateful that Buahri has done it.”
To Chairman of Committee for the Creation of Ekiti State, Mr Deji Fasua, the president had wormed himself into the hearts of democracy-loving people, who had anticipated the immortalisation for a long time.
He said Abiola should now be properly recognised as a president-elect, adding that his portrait should be accorded its proper place among past Nigerian leaders.
Fasua said: ”At last, Buhari has become a politician. He has caught the nation completely unawares. Declaring June 12 as a ‘Democracy day’ is a monumental breakthrough in the history of Nigeria. It means that everything that was done to abort the wishes of the people have been erased from our political lexicon and history.
“I urge Nigerians to observe, gratify and reward Buhari for his position in Nigeria’s politics. Considering the present circumstances, Buhari’s name should be written in gold.”
Pro-democracy activist and leader of ‘Women Arise’ Mrs Joe Okei-Odumakin said: “The decision is accepted, 24 years after the annulment. We have always clamoured that June 12 should be the ‘Democracy Day.’ We have been marking it every year. The honours to Abiola and Fawehinmi are good.
“The greatest post-humus recognition is that Abiola should be treated as a past president and we want his portrait to be included among past presidents. Also, in memory of June 12, the president should make a commitment to free and fair elections in 2019.
“It is a welcome development, but belated. It does not put food on the table now. He should go and restructure the country. What he has done is a palliative. It cannot erase the problem in the country.”
Former Second Republic Special Adviser Mr Tanko Yakasai, said it is ironic that Buhari who did not at any point speak against the annulment of June 12, 1993 election would suddenly declare it as the freest and fairest in Nigerian democratic history.
Yakasai described what Buhari did as “his power of incumbency to seek for support of the electorate
“The implication of his action today is that the election was free, fair and credible and therefore the annulment of the election was unjustifiable and illegal. Since he has gone to the extent of rewarding the late Abiola and his running mate for not being allowed to enjoy their mandate, it is an open admission that the annulment was illegal.
“The honest thing Buhari could have done was to revalidate the result of that election, by asking the electoral commission to officially announce the result and declare the winner. The fact that Abiola is dead does not make any difference, because his running mate is still alive.
“So, the election can still be made valid and since Abiola is not alive, his running mate can take over the reins of government, having been declared winner of that election. Therefore, Buhari should have handed over power to Babagana Kingibe, who was the running mate of Abiola.”
Afenifere leader Mr Rueben Fasoranti said: “It is a welcome development. But, it is too late. The president ought to have done it before. Abiola deserves it. It is a welcome news.
I thank the president for immortalizing Abiola, urging the political class to emulate the symbol of June 12.
Fasanmi said: “The election of June 12, 1993 was the fairest election ever. Abiola won convincely. But Babangida did not allow it to materialise. Democracy was murdered by Babangida. Democracy was crucified through the annulment of June 12, 19993 poll. Therefore, what the president has done is a right step in the right direction.
“On June 12, 1993, it was a Muslim/Muslim ticket. It was a clean and clear election. It is better to make June 12 the ‘Democracy Day;’ the day democracy was murdered. Things were orderly when I was in House of Representatives in the First Republic and when I was in Senate in the Second Republic. Some people have made the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a Republic of corruption. This is what Buhari is trying to end. I support Buhari’s decision to honour Abiola.”
Former Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Olorunimbe Mamora hailed Buhari for recognising Abiola and the honour done him.
Mamora said the President has done something his predecessors failed to do by righting the wrong of the past. According to him, this singular act of President Buhari is commendable. Though Abiola is no more but his legacy lives on. I join millions of lovers of democracy in commending Buhari for that singular act.
“One of the greatest acts of leadership is recognising what is good in others, that is what Buhari has done. He had written his name in gold in the political history of Nigeria”.
Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) Mr Joe Igbokwe was excited by Buhari’s decision to adopt June 12 as Democracy Day and the post humous award of Grand Commander of Federal Republic for Abiola.
Igbokwe said Buhari had healed the wound that has been hunting Nigeria since 1993. “Abiola won the election but he was denied victory by Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo. This great injustice is what has been holding Nigeria down. Buhari has achieved what Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed to do while in power for 16 years. With this act, PDP has been buried.
“I want Buhari to go a step further by paying compensation to Abiola‘s family because the June 12 saga had ruined Abiola’s chain of business. Abiola died in the struggle for his mandate, Concord newspapers, the bookshop, Concord Airline and many others have gone under.
Lawyer and human rights activist Mr Monday Ubani, said this is what he expected from Buhari immediately he assumed power in 2015. It is better than never, he said.
Ubani said Buhari deserved commendation for having courage to reverse the manifest injustice meted to Abiola.
A senior advocate, Mr Niyi Akintola, described the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the post humous award for Abiola as a welcome development. “It is a good way of immortalising the winner of the June 12 poll. We have been clamouring for it in the South West”.
“It is a good one, though it is belated. We appreciate it that it is coming from him. Conferment of GCFR on Abiola is also welcome, it is commendable.
“Having said that, I think these are all desperate moves to woo the votes of Southwest. It is like someone setting a trap and placing some very delicious food on the trap so that you swallow it and get caught.
“He wants to catch us once again in 2019. We have always demanded for the recognition of June 12, he has given them to us now, so that he can catch us again by the neck in 2019.
“What I will say is that we should play smart, we should thank him for it and show appreciation. These are things that Abiola deserved, so we appreciate it for doing him the honour.
Chief Chekwas Okorie
National Chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP), Mr Chekwas Okorie, said Buhari’s action is nothing but high wire politics. He said: “I must tell you that this is high wire politics. Our president is waxing stronger politically. It has been a long time that many discerning Nigerians, including my humble self, had thought that Abiola, who died to uphold democracy should be honoured. He had opportunity to sellout; he had the opportunity to avoid the discomfort of incarceration, if only he could renounce the mandate. He did not yield to that rather he defended the mandate.
“I want to say June 12 will be an appropriate day to mark democracy. That argument has been put up for a long time. If by this time, Buhari has decided to do the right thing, he should be commended. Though I said it was high wired politics, but it is politics in the right direction. It is politics that is induced in political savvy, it is a welcome development. There is nothing sacrosanct about May 29. It was the creation of Obasanjo and because of Obasanjo’s hostilities the man acted this way.”