President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to gazette his order on June 12 and some heroes of democracy.
The President had on Thursday declared June 12 Nigeria’s new Democracy Day and conferred the title Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, posthumously, on the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
MKO’s running mate in the election, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, and the legendary human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, were also honoured – with the title Grand Commander Order of the Niger.
According to a statement by the Personal Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the AGF is expected to take immediate steps to publish in order in the Federal Gazette.
News of the Presidents declaration went viral on Wednesday night and continued to trend through Thursday with many praising the President.
Some Nigerians including opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, were however critical of the timing of the declaration with President Buhari set to stand for re-election in eight months.
The declaration comes 25 years after the widely praised but unfortunately annulled elections and after years of calls by family, friends, associates of Chief MKO as well as statesmen and other stakeholders for him to be so honoured.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekwermadu, has described national unity and good governance as essential ingredients in the nation’s quest for national development.
Senator Ekweremadu stated this in his independence message to Nigerians.
He reasoned that the nation’s founding fathers were able to achieve independence for Nigeria because they rose above political, ethnic, religious, and sectional cleavages to speak with one voice.
He said: “Sadly, there is no doubt that the full blessings of political independence has continued to elude us. I, therefore, believe that the occasion of the 55th Independence Anniversary is an opportunity for soul searching and retracing of our steps.
“We inherited a country where Nigerians won elections and held high political and civil service positions outside their places of origin.
“In our recent past, late Chief M.K.O Abiola and Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe’s presidential ticket was overwhelmingly embraced across the nation despite the fact that they were both Muslims. But it is almost unthinkable in the Nigeria of today. This is certainly not the type of freedom and country our founding fathers fought for.”
He, however, expressed strong belief that Nigeria would overcome its challenges if those in positions of authority embrace good governance and use their positions to rally the nation to common national goals.
He added that the fact that Nigeria remains an indivisible country 55 years after independence despite challenges was a major achievement and a cause to celebrate.
“It also means that the factors upon which the nation’s greatness was predicted are still intact, but we must conscientiously address the issue of national unity to move forward”, he stressed.