Human rights activist and daughter of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, says the recognition of the date of the annulled poll as the nation’s Democracy Day and the resolve by President Muhammadu Buhari to honour her late father, Chief MKO Abiola, with highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, are significant steps towards ensuring justice for all Nigerians who took part in birthing an event which has become a watershed in Nigeria’s political history.
Abiola-Costello, who lambasted former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the immediate beneficiary of the annulled June 12 election, for his failure to seize the initiative to honour her father and others who paid the price for Nigeria’s democracy, throughout his eight-year tenure, commended President Muhammdu Buhari for deeming it fit to recognise June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day and for honouring her father and other pro-democracy activists.
The human rights activist in a reaction to Wednesday’s declaration by President Buhari, said, “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.
“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.”