June 12: Nigerians Angry Over Buhari’s Glorification Of Abacha In Public

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Democracy In Action
Democracy In Action

Some Nigerians say the Federal Government’s declaration of M. K. O. Abiola as the winner of the June 12 elections looks contradictory to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s glorification of the late General Sani Abacha in the public.

Though the then President Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election, Abacha jailed Abiola unconditionally for declaring himself a winner of the June 12 presidential elections while he was the head of state.

Recall that during the inglorious era of Abacha, Buhari headed Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), though PTF board, it was alleged, could not account for about N280 billion.

In some recent interviews granted journalists, Buhari had venerated and declared that Abacha who died in 1998 did not steal from the nation’s treasury, though some countries- USA, Switzerland, Great Britain and others had returned billions of dollars and pound sterlings said to be stolen by the Abacha administration to Nigeria.

Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate, Tuesday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop showing loyalty to the supposed tormentor of late MKO Abiola.

Although he didn’t mention any name, most Nigerians believe Soyinka was referring to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha (retd.), who detained Abiola for years until his death in 1998 when he attempted to reclaim his mandate as president.

Soyinka said, “l will like to make a request. Mr President, since we are honouring heroes of democracy today, l will like to request that you manage to stop creating confusion in the minds of Nigerians. It is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breadth and admire his tormentor in another breadth.

Babajide Kolade Otito-ju, the News Manager of TVC News, Lagos last night expressed anger over Buhari’s attitude, saying “the President is not doing well for always pouring praises on Abacha. He makes me angry by extolling Abacha.”

Speaking Wednesday night on the privately owned television station, TVC News under the under the programme: Journalists Hangout, Otito-ju recalled that “While Abacha was head of state, some people in Kano, home state of the deceased, held prayer meeting and asked God to bring him down. When the announcement was made that Abacha had died, the people did not show any remorse or express sympathy for him. But when Aminu Kano, the founder of People Redemption Party, PRP, died, Kano people cried profusely.

“Abacha repressed opposition in Lagos and other states of the federation for calling for validation of June 12 not Babangida. During the crisis, many people died; others lost their families and others were maimed.”

Asuquo James, Assignment Editor of TVC News who commended Buhari for recognising Abiola the winner of the election, did welcome the idea of extolling the memories of Abacha seen as a dictator by many.

James who described the speech of Hasfat Abiola as outstanding called for conferment of posthumous award on Kudirat Abiola seen as the late Winnie Mandela in campaigning for the validation of the election but was killed by unknown gunmen.

He, however, warned that June 12 provided a template for the present Nigerian government and subsequent one should rely on in conducting credible election.

“The Federal Government should give Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a free hand to conduct credible and free elections in 2019 without any interference. Let the electorates be given opportunity to vote for candidates of their choice and have the confidence that the central government would not interfere in the elections for their votes count,” James remarked.

In his opinion, Dare Odufokawo, Assistant Editor, The Nation Newspapers noted that members of he defated National Republican Party (NRC) conceded victory to Social Democratic Party (SDP) as soon more results were released.

In their unanimous submissions, the discussants aligned themselves to the Nigerian Senate’s resolution that Federal Government should announce the results of the June 12 presidential elections and declare the winner to put the records straight, which such is not meant to evoke ill-feelings among the electorates.

“It is ridiculous to think that Babagana Kingibe, then SDP vice presidential candidate to Abiola would go to court to challenge the election for validation and call for his swearing in. How many military and civilians administration have held office since then, but nobody challenged the elections? The essence is to put the record straight to forstall future occurrence of such incident,” they agreed.