“May 29th will only be handover date and working day. By the Act amended and signed by Mr. President, May 29 is no more a public holiday. June 12 is now a public holiday and the country’s Democracy Day,” he said.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the Federal Government to go the whole hog in honouring the late Chief Moshood Abiola as the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Regional groups and prominent stakeholders in the nation’s political space said the late Abiola should be declared president posthumously and all privileges awarded accordingly.
The officials of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) led by their chairman, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), National Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin and former President of the Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, asked the Federal Government to go beyond the celebration of June 12 as the Democracy Day and public holiday. They want the late Abiola to be officially declared the winner of the historic election adjudged to be the country’s fairest since independence.
The election was annulled by the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), who later admitted that he was under pressure from unnamed forces in the hierarchy of military leadership to do so.
“We have welcomed the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day as a belated official admission of the importance of the June 12 event in our national life,” Afenifere scribe Odumakin told The Guardian. “It is also a reward for tenacity as believers in June 12 did not allow the matter to come to a closure until it was given its due. For standing firm and dropping his life in the battle, the place of Abiola in history has also been partly recognised.
“But it is not a complete task yet until Abiola is recognised posthumously as Nigeria’s former president with all the privileges attached. Even when the above is done, Abiola is not coming to assume his mandate and all would be symbolic,” Odumakin said.
“The greatest honour to do him, therefore, is to declare June 12 Abiola day and imbibe the free and fair spirit of June 12 in our electoral conduct. It would amount to a mockery of June if we continue to use a democratic event to celebrate rigged elections.”
Uwazurike, a lawyer and former leader of the pan-Igbo group, Aka Ikenga, said: “Granted that Buhari needed to win over the Yoruba voters, common sense should have been applied by the government in the outcome of its activities. June 12 without declaring Abiola as president-elect is merely massaging a surgical case.”
Addressing a press conference in Lagos to mark the 25th anniversary of June 12 yesterday, leaders of NADECO, including Kanu; National Secretary, Ayo Opadokun; chieftain of APC, Dr. Amos Akingba; Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd); and Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe, rejected any attempt by the incumbent government to falsely present Abiola as a regional hero or icon.
The coalition also urged that the late Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, the heroine of June 12 struggle, be given national honour for her martyrdom in the quest for revalidating her husband’s mandate and for the restoration of democratic governance.
In the text presented by Opadokun, the coalition also demanded Nigeria should be returned to true federalism based on the 1960 Independence Constitution.
“NADECO has urged President Buhari and the ruling APC to go beyond merely recognising June 12 as Democracy Day but to also formerly inaugurate post- humously Bashorun MKO Abiola as president.”
The coalition said it believed that by restoring the concurrent list of items of the 1960 Independence Constitution to the states along with the concomitant resources to execute those responsibilities, genuine development could be better pursued throughout Nigeria.
“The 1960 Independence Constitution upon which Nigeria secured its independence based on several negotiations should be the working paper for the consideration, discussion and resolution of a representative assembly mainly of the ethnic nationalities which were the building blocks upon which Nigeria was constructed,” Opadokun said.
The coalition also said Buhari should take an immediate and bold decision to invite credible ethnic leaders elected through their cultural modalities of choosing representation, not composed of government nominees, to dialogue.
“Further delay in summoning this gathering of ethnic nationalities on equal number of representatives is dangerous and provocative to those who have had to bear the brunt and agony of underserved mistreatment by ‘pretending owners’, thereby further endangering this unworkable Nigerian project.”
The coalition also condemned the current inefficient security architecture, which it claimed had resulted in various acts of criminality, including kidnapping, forceful displacement of natives from their land through elimination and subjugation by unlicensed armed herdsmen thereby making farmers to restrain themselves from going to their farmland, as well as cattle rustling in the process by aggrieved land owners in many parts of Nigeria without any impactful state intervention must be halted immediately.
Mr. Tunde Rahman, the media adviser to the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, said the issue of declaring Abiola president posthumously was at the discretion of the Federal Government.
He said since the government had conferred the highest honour on Abiola, “it is also at its discretion to take further action.”
Similarly, a founding member of the APC, Chief Segun Osoba, described the call as “unnecessary.”
He said: “We don’t need that anymore, having given him GCFR, which is only conferred on presidents; it is automatically a recognition, otherwise, it would be an exercise in futility. Abiola is gone. Are we going to swear him in or who are we going to hand the symbol of office to? The acceptance and awarding the GCFR to him is a recognition that he passed through and was a president of this nation.”
Release political prisoners, Secondus tells Buhari
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release “political prisoners”.
Addressing reporters yesterday on the side-line of a visit to Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the Government House in Yola, Secondus said there should be no room for political prisoners in a democracy.
He said: “We ask President Buhari to release political prisoners. It is not done in any political dispensation. What we are seeing today is as if we are in a military era. He should urgently release political prisoners and allow a political atmosphere and a country where there is freedom of speech.”
Urging the media to take the lead in the campaign for free speech, Secondus added: “I want to call on journalists and media managers not to sit on the fence. They can’t just sit and watch the country sliding. They played a major role in the past, removing the country from the hands of the military. They have tempered with some among them. It is time for them to join hands with the good people of Nigeria to stand on the path of truth, on the path of democracy.”
The PDP National Chairman stressed that freedom of conscience must be allowed in a political environment.
He alluded to the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the Africa Action Congress (AAC) in the last election and Convener of the #RevolutionNowMovement.
Secondus said: “The President must release political prisoners, particularly the presidential candidate of AAC, Sowore.”
The PDP chieftain, who said his party’s leadership was in Adamawa State to commiserate with Fintiri on the death of his father, enjoined the people to support the governor to record high performance.
BMO to Atiku: you, not Buhari, impoverished Nigerians
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is directly responsible for the pauperisation of millions of Nigerians as head of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said on Tuesday.
It said this contradicted his claims that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration ruined the country.
In a statement by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO noted that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election is again pushing a false narrative to fool undiscerning Nigerians.
“We are not surprised that the former Vice-President has jumped on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report issued last month to take a swipe at a man he clearly considers as his nemesis.
“The UN body had noted that slightly over 98 million Nigerians were living in multi-dimensional poverty, but, as usual, the PDP presidential candidate did not fully grasp the details before launching an attack on President Buhari,” the statement said.
It added: “The report indicated that about 46 per cent of Nigerians were poor as at today, but Atiku Abubakar needs to be reminded that 60.9 per cent of Nigerians, or 100 million people, were living below the poverty threshold in 2010, and 120 million in 2012, according to the World Bank, which is the body that provides a global poverty headcount.
“Interestingly, the period the country had an exponential spike in the number of people living below $1 a day was during the 16 unbroken years that the former Vice-President’s party held sway in Nigeria.”
BMO also noted that the PDP stalwart created the pathway for Nigeria’s struggle with poverty alongside his then principal, Olusegun Obasanjo, with the less than transparent privatisation he presided over.
“It is not a secret that Alhaji Abubakar was the executor-in-chief of what has gone down in the annals of the nation as a major heist of the nation’s assets, an action that later pitched him against former President Obasanjo.
“He literally sold off several government-owned enterprises for less than their market values to his cronies to strip and cannibalise, and in the process, tens of thousands of workers were denied their livelihood and laid off without benefits. It is also on record that he kept one of the prized assets (Onne Port) to himself.
“Or, does he also have to be reminded of the period when the nation’s Education sector virtually collapsed but that was when he and former President Obasanjo established high profile private secondary and tertiary institutions?
“So, if Atiku is searching for the person who plunged Nigerians into multi-dimensional poverty, he should just look into the nearest mirror, or maybe he could tell us how many people he drove into penury and how many had their pensions paid, even after the terminal date of the Obasanjo administration.
“In case he missed the latest news, the Buhari administration, through its Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), has paid the outstanding severance package of over 1,500 verified eligible former workers and next-of-kin of deceased former workers of Savannah Sugar Company.
“The former Vice-President cannot say he has forgotten that these workers were not paid their benefits when they were disengaged in 2002, after the company was privatised.
“This is just one out of many examples of how President Buhari has been cleaning up the mess left by Atiku and his party’s leaders, who have not shown any form of remorse but are rather prepared to also insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.”
The BMO urged the former Vice-President to heed the advice of his former boss and seek proper forgiveness from Nigerians for the harm he did the country.
President Buhari to inaugurate ministers August 21
The 43 ministers-designate are to be inaugurated on Agust 21 by President Muhammadu Buhari, a statement by Babatunde Lawal, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Ahead of their inauguration, ministers-designate are scheduled to undergo a two-day induction retreat at the State House Conference Room, Presidential Villa beginning from August 19.
The statement reads: “The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, invites all ministers-designate, head of the civil service of the federation, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries (specifically invited) to a two-day induction retreat to be presided over by his excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the retreat earlier publicised has been rescheduled.”
The objectives of the retreat, he said, include:
- build a strong platform for synergy and teamwork, sensitise appointees on the status of the implementation of policies, programmes and projects of government from 2015 till date
- acquaint the appointees with the roadmap for delivery of government’s priorities and next level agenda (2019-2023).
- deepen the understanding of participants on best practices in conducting government business.
The statement said attendance at both events is mandatory and strictly by invitation.