Buhari’s Gift To Abiola: Beyond The Confines Of Legality

By Ikenga Chronicles June 9, 2018

Buhari’s Gift To Abiola: Beyond The Confines Of Legality

— Onyebuchi Ememanka

The announcement by President Buhari of a posthumous award of the highest national award of GCFR to Late Chief MKO Abiola and the designation of June 12 as a national holiday has been received with varying reactions.

The latest came from a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, SMA Belgore which said the award to Abiola is illegal pursuant to the provisions of the law governing the awards.

This piece is meant to look at the political capital which the move carries, even as the legal arguments continue.

The honest truth is that the move by Buhari is a deft political maneuver which carries heavy political capital.

READ ALSO: PMB, MKO, June 12, And Democracy Day: The Wrongheaded Celebration Of A National Tragedy

The place of Abiola and June 12 in Nigeria’s political history is well known. He is well known as the winner of the June 12 1993 elections. It is indeed a surprise that the immortalization of Abiola has taken this long.
The man paid the supreme sacrifice for democracy in our country. Not only did he lose his life, his wife was also murdered by agents of the then military junta. Any politically sharp President will cash in on what Abiola represents.

Apart from the award to Abiola, making June 12 a national holiday is a political masterstroke of mega proportions. Many Nigerians have been disappointed that the date has been ignored for a very long time. In states of the South West, June 12 has been a holiday ever since 1999. So for the Yorubas, this is a huge gift to them.

The award of GCON to Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi is also another deft move. Gani’s place in the human rights history of Nigeria is assured and this award will mean a lot to his millions of followers.

The former Chief Justice could well be right in his submissions but take it or leave it, this is one move that will do Buhari a lot of good, especially in the South West.

Beyond the legal arguments, no Nigerian will question this move. It may be described as political but the truth is that we are in politics and this one is good politics.

Leaders must learn to seize the moment. Past Nigerian Presidents since Abiola’s death failed to do this and now that Buhari has done it, he is entitled to enjoy its full benefits.

READ ALSO: Who Killed Abacha And Abiola?: Generals At War–Onyedika Agbedo

In Abia State, there was a man called Dr. Clement Chima Nwafor. He was a medical doctor and a civil servant. He was a very distinguished man who loved his people passionately. He willingly chose to serve mostly in rural pubic hospitals. He was very popular amongst our people through his philanthropy and selfless service.

He was later elected Deputy Governor. He served for three different times as Deputy Governor. He was an exceedingly patriotic man and a loyal Deputy to his bosses.

But they dealt him a heavy blow. The road leading to his Country Home at Umuojima Ogbu remained an eyesore for many years even while he was in office. People wondered why. It was indeed an embarrassment.

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To make matters worse, he was murdered and few days after his burial, armed men attacked his residence and many of his kids were injured. His first son barely escaped death.

Afterwards, everybody forgot the man and his sacrifices to our people. That sent a message of despondency to our people. People wondered why a man should serve his people diligently if he would be treated this shabbily even in death.

Then came Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.

Not only did he construct that road, he renamed another one after Dr. Nwafor, thereby bringing to an end, years of injustice.

READ ALSO: Melaye Frowns At Buhari’s Conferment Of GCON On Abiola

For the people of Umuojima, Osisioma Ngwa and indeed, the entire Ngwaland, it was a move that we will never forget. Indeed, all Abians of goodwill applauded that move.

It is in this context that I see this move by Buhari. The Abiola family will deeply appreciate this move, they will be happy and deeply emotional. They will say thank you to Buhari.

So while the legal arguments continue, Buhari has scored a powerful political point.

Take it or leave it.

Make I drink water. I dey come.