The All Progressives Congress (APC) United Kingdom Chapter says declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhammadu Buhari is not a campaign strategy ahead of 2019 elections.
It, therefore, urged Nigerians discountenance insinuations to that effect, saying that the development was for all lovers of democracy.
A statement in Abuja on Thursday by its Acting Publicity Secretary, Mr Jacob Ogunseye, quoted leader of the chapter, Mr Ade Omole, as saying that the recognition of June 12 was long overdue.
In the statement, Omole said that it was only a President with a large heart that could take such a decision, adding Nigerians in the Diaspora were very pleased with the development.
He added that by the action, Buhari had treaded where others could not since democratization of Nigeria in the last 18 years.
He lauded the president for the decision to posthumously confer the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) honor on late Chief MKO Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Omole maintained that there was no alternative to the APC-led Federal Government, saying that even the Peoples´ Democratic Party (PDP) that was in power for 16 years did not have the courage to take recognize June 12.
He said that the Buhari-led Federal Government was not only interested in entrenching true democracy and developing the country, but was also interested in calming nerves in different regions even amid challenges.
He expressed optimism that the decision on the new status of June 12 would calm frayed nerves in the South-West especially, and ensure the support of people of the region for the APC-led Federal Government.
Omole observed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, himself from South-West as Abiola, failed to recognize June 12 in spite of being the greatest beneficiary of the 12 struggle.
Buhari had on his twitter handle, said, “After due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as the Democracy Day.
“Therefore, government has decided to award posthumously, the highest honour of the land, GCFR to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled election.
“The running mate, Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be honoured with a Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).´´
The president also said that late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a renowned human rights lawyer, would be posthumously awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
He said the commemoration and investiture would take place on June 12 while the day would henceforth be observed as public holiday.
Abiola, who contested the June 12 presidential election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), overwhelmingly defeated his opponent, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the then National Republican Convention (NRC).
The election was said to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest by national and international observers, with Abiola a Southern Muslim, winning even in Kano, his opponent’s home state and most states of the federation.
The election was, however, annulled by then Military President, Ibrahim Babaginda, two weeks after the poll, a development that caused political crisis which led to late General Sani Abacha seizing power.
In 1994, Abiola announced himself as the lawful President of Nigeria and was afterwards declared wanted and subsequently arrested on a charge of treasonable felony.
He died on July 17, 1998 while being detained by the military government under Abacha.
The Governments of Lagos and Ogun states had before now, declared June 12 a public holiday to celebrate Abiola.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo state, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari had healed wounds of Nigerians by declaring June 12 Democracy Day.
Adesanya told newsmen in Lagos that the declaration and posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on late Chief MKO Abiola, was the best moment in Nigeria’s history and democracy.
Buhari had in the announcement on Wednesday, said that June 12 would replace May 29 as Democracy Day.
Adesanya, a former Publicity Secretary of APC in Ondo state, commended the President for the courage and display of highest level of patriotism to the Nigerian project.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration and posthumous award of GCFR on MKO Abiola is “a dream come true’’, after 25 years of agitation for the realisation of June 12 as peoples’ mandate.
“Buhari has healed the wounds of Nigerians and the blood of the innocent Nigerians, who died in the struggle for the realization of June 12 Mandate, is not in vain.
“Also, the living heroes and heroines of June 12 have been vindicated by Buhari’s gestures. It’s a dream come through.
“Buhari has displayed highest level of patriotism to the Nigeria project and his actions have showed that he is a believer of democracy, a true democrat indeed,” Adesanya said.