10 things about Buhari’s honour for MKO Abiola
How it spites IBB
Why Gani also received the highest honour reserved for justices
The 2019 connection
- The Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) is the highest national honour in Nigeria. Traditionally, it is reserved for a former occupant of the Office of the President of Nigeria. President Buhari is inadvertently giving the late Abiola a posthumous recognition as a former president.
- The Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) is exclusively reserved for former Vice Presidents of Nigeria, but Buhari has conferred it on Ambassador Babagana Kingibe who was the running mate to Abiola in the 1993 presidential election. This, too, is monstrous, because Kingibe gave up the struggle for the actualisation of June 12 elections. So did he earn the glory of Vice President when he dropped the ball off and accepted an appointment as the late General Sani Abacha’s Foreign Minister?
- Incidentally, Ambassador Kingibe is one of the influential and powerful politicians around Buhari. It is possible that he might have influenced Buhari’s decision to bestow posthumous honour on Abiola, and also personally benefit from the gesture.
- On the politics of Buhari’s decision, it may be an attempt to spite General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), whose no-love-lost relationship with Buhari is not hidden. It was IBB’s regime that annulled the election in 1993. Again, IBB has been discouraging Buhari from running for a second term. By this gesture, Buhari may be saying, ‘I’m undoing the wrongs of the IBB administration. I’m a democrat. Support me in 2019.’
- The GCON bestowed on the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi may also be spite on IBB. The former president had a running battle with Gani. The posthumous GCON is also customarily bestowed on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of the Nigerian Senate during their first year in office. It’s an elevation of Gani from a lawyer to the highest position in the judiciary in Nigeria.
- Buhari may also be appeasing the vexed spirit of APC leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was one of the ideologues of June 12. The decision to posthumously recognize Abiola strikes a chord in those who agitated for the actualization of ‘Abiola’s mandate.’
- Declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day will certainly please the people of the South-West who rose in a rowdy and even brutal protest against the military in the aftermath of the annulment of June 12, 1993 elections.
- As 2019 elections are around the corner, and now that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is being re-awakened in the South-West, Buhari’s gesture may actually be an attempt to tear through the party’s new fortress by saying Buhari has bestowed honour on their own sons, so he should be supported in the next elections.
- Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s political moves in the South-West could be punctured. Obasanjo ruled for eight years, but failed to honour MKO Abiola in spite of the fact that the South-West called for recognition for the flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
- Furthermore, Chief Olu Falae, a former presidential candidate and founder of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the current dispensation cannot make capital out of the name of Abiola’s party. Buhari expects that the people of the South-West shall romanticize APC in 2019 instead of SDP, which is like the beautiful bride being courted by ambitious politicians ahead of 2019.