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NEWS 117

When President Buhari announced the FG honour for the late patriach Chief MKO Abiola, his family joined millions of Nigerians who witnessed the Abiola era to celebrate and praise the president.

In a letter to the president, dated June 6, 2018, Mr Abiola’s son, Kola, said he was appreciating the decision on behalf of the family.

“Your Excellency, as I wrote in my letter to you on June 12, 2016, in our minds, the award was the only befitting recognition of the importance of Chief Abiola’s fight for democracy for Nigeria which culminated in 4 years incarceration/solitary confinement and decimation of his business and financial interests, before the ultimate sacrifice, being his life on July 7, 1998 at the age of 60,” he wrote.

“Your Excellency, your decision to also designate June 12 as Democracy Day rights the wrongs done to all the nation-builders and heroes that produced that produced the democratic credentials on which the Nigerian polity now thrives. We are profoundly grateful to the people from all corners of Nigeria that worked tirelessly to ensure the most free and fair elections in our nation’s history in 1993, fought valiantly for the Hope ’93 mandate given to Bashorun Abiola by the Nigerian people and died trying to protect the mandate.”

“Mr President, I thank you earnestly for heeding our plea where others before you did not, whilst conveying the assurances of my highest esteem.”

Before the letter, his daughters had on joined many on Twitter to tweet thwir feelings.

Hasfat the first child of Abiola’s second wife Kudirat, whose life she lost in struggle to restore her husbands mandate followed her tweet with a touching poem.

Twenty five years after June 12: Our Long Wait for Justice is Ending
I had expected that the handover from military rule to democracy would be held on the 12th of June.
That would have signalled the completion of a circle that began with a dream deferred.
That became one fulfilled.
But I waited in vain.
The handover was set for May 29, a date pulled out of thin air, signifying nothing.
Then I thought that the chief beneficiary would ask the country to observe a minute of silence,
In memory of MKO, Kudirat, Alfred Rewane, Umaru Yar’Adua, Bagauda Kaltho, the thousands of students, the tens of journalists, traders and politicians who lost their lives fighting to actualise an unjustly annulled election.
Again, I waited in vain for he started his  inauguration speech…
And nothing was said.
The first four years passed and it became clear that the goal was to erase the name of the man whose sacrifice paved the way for our democracy.
Those four years set the tone.
And I got tired of waiting
As it slowly became clear that to wait was to wait in vain.
I stopped expecting my country to do the right thing by my father and instead began to understand why Nigeria struggles to find patriots among its leaders.
Until today.
Today when President Muhammadu Buhari gave an executive order to declare that June 12 was Nigeria’s Democracy Day;
To confer on MKO the title of GCFR, an honour reserved for presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
To confer on Gani Fawehinmi, the dogged fighter for justice, and my father’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, the title of GCON, the second highest in the land;
And in one day, demonstrated to my bruised heart that integrity, fairness, honour were alive and well in a country for which both my parents had sacrificed their lives.
There are no words that can capture the depth of my gratitude nor the breadth of my joy.
I thank God that I am alive to witness this day.
May we live to witness many more days when justice triumphs over injustice, when sacrifice and service win over arrogance and fraud, and when the blood of our heroes reach from across time to boldly claim the reward that their actions wrought.
May the sacrifices of our past heroes and heroines never be in vain.

Ogaga Onokwakpor

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