President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday honoured the winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, by renaming the Abuja National Stadium after him.
The President said this in a speech he read at the first National Democracy Day celebration in Abuja, stating that he approved June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day as part of the healing and reconciliation efforts for the annulment of the presidential election.
He also said with purposeful leadership, the Federal Government could move 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, said it was sad that the country was celebrating Democracy Day under Buhari, whose policies they claimed negated the June 12 spirit and ideals of the late Abiola.
They said the Buhari administration had desecrated all the nation’s democratic values and despoiled the electoral processes just to have itself in office
But in Abuja on Wednesday, Buhari honoured Abiola at the event witnessed by some of the children of the late politician, including Kola and Hafsat.
Also at the event were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, service chiefs, President of Rwanda, Gambia, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Namibia and Senegal. Among other dignitaries that also witnessed the event were representatives of the governments of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran, Benin Republic, Ireland, Egypt, India and Niger.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi were some of the invited monarchs for the ceremony.
Apart from honouring Abiola, the President also addressed diverse national issues and unfolded his government’s agenda on insecurity, economy and social security initiatives in the next four years.
Buhari said, “As we all know, correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity. As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and conferred on the late Chief MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe national honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
“The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential election of that year. Today, I propose the renaming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called Moshood Abiola National Stadium.”
Buhari noted that terrorism and insecurity had become worldwide phenomena, noting that even the best policed countries were experiencing increasing incidents of unrest.
He however said the security challenges facing the country were being met with superior strategy, firepower and resolve.
According to him, most of the instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were sponsored or incited by ethnic, political or religious leaders, who he claimed, hoped to benefit by exploiting divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening the country.