President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tendered a national apology to the family of late Chief Moshood Abiola, for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which was adjudged to have been won by Abiola.
He gave the apologies as he performed the investiture of national honours on Abiola and his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe.
Buhari also tendered national apologies to all those who struggled for the actuallisation of the election, including journalists, politicians and all other stakeholders.
The President personally presented the awards to Abiola’s first son, Mr. Kola Abiola; the wife of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Mrs. Ganiat Fawehinmi; and Kingibe.
Buhari also approved the conferment of national honours on three distinguished Nigerians who contributed immensely to the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
They are the former Speaker, House of Representatives in the Third Republic, Rt. Honourable, Chief Agunwa Anekwe; former Senate President in the Third Republic, Senator Iyorchia Ayu; and, Senate President in the Third Republic, Senator Ameh Ebute.
Apparently aware that his decision may not resonate with every Nigerian, Buhari said as he presented the awards that the ceremony was not to open old wounds of inexplicable annulment of the election which was clear to have been won by Abiola.
His words: “We recognise that an error has been committed. We will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This honour is for the grievous injustice done to the country. It is meant to assist at healing the wounds and building national reconciliation of the 25 years of wounds caused by the annulment.
“I earnestly urge Nigerians to accept it in good faith and bury the past of June 12. We are celebrating June 12 as a democracy sustenance, freedom, unity and national cohesion. It will impact impact positively on the next generation. I tender the nation’s apology to the family of MKO Abiola, Also to those who struggle and stood for June 12.”
At the occasion, Buhari declared a minute silence in honour of the victims of June 12 just as Mr. Kola Abiola and his sister, Hafsat Biola spoke on behalf of the family of MKO Abiola, saluting Buhari for the honour done to the gladiators of June 12 and for honouring their father.
Acknowledging the apology tendered by Buhari, Hafsat also apologised to President Buhari and members of his family.
“On behalf of the MKO Abiola family, I apologise to you and your family for anything that we would have done to hurt you and your family. By recognising June 12, you have awoken all those victims of the oppression and also a call-up for a new beginning for the defence of the country”, she said.