Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Tuesday said he was a leading advocate for the recognition of June 12 as a democracy day.He stated that he started the declaration of work free day on May 30 among governors in Nigeria.
He described the annulment of the election, which was widely admitted to be freest and fairest, as the greatest shock ever to him.
The Governor made the statement at a special programme organised in the state by pro-democracy groups, in conjunction with Osun State Government.
Aregbesola averred that the military junta had introduced the concept of ‘annulment’ in a negative way that gives the world an unpleasant colouration in the Nigerian political lexicon, and psyches of the citizenry.
“Sincerely, it was that year, 1993, that I first heard of the world, ‘annulment ‘it was totally strange to me, I quickly contacted my dictionary to check the meaning, just to discover that it means cancellation.
“I felt so bad, I wondered how a credible election of that nature could be cancelled for no reason”, Aregbesola stressed.
Meanwhile, the Guest Speaker at the event, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) who was represented by a social crusader, Mr Sina Odugbemi maintained that this year’s celebration of June 12 had provided an ample opportunity to review Nigeria’s democratic journey.
Falana, who spoke on the theme: “June 12 Silver Jubilee: The essence of peaceful co-existence in the period of transitional democracy” noted that the focus of the celebration should be how to strengthen democracy, as a form of government in Nigeria.
He, however, faulted the position of some individuals who criticised the legality and rationale behind the award conferred on both Chief M. K. O. Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, arguing that such position was alien to the law.
“The honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria faulted the confirment of posthumous awards on Chief M. K. O. Abiola and Chief Gabi Fawehinmi, on the grounds that the advice of the National Honours Committee headed by his lordship was not sought.
“It was further contended by his lordship that it is illegal to confer national honours posthumously.
“Curiously, his lordship did not refer to any section of the National Honours Act or any other law that has been violated by the President. It is however pertinent to point out that the National Honours Committee is unknown to law. Hence, there is no reference to it in the National Honours Act.
“But beyond the Order of G. C. F. R. conferred on Chief Abiola, for paying the supreme sacrifice for the restoration of democracy in the country, the Federal Government should mark June 12 on a daily basis by respecting the democratic rights of the Nigerian people.
“It should be borne in the mind that the Nigerian people voted for Chief Abiola because of his commitment to make poverty history, Nigerians have also voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) because it promised to change poverty to prosperity in the land”, Falana resorted.