Since Wednesday’s declaration by President Buhari of the dual honour bestowed on late MKO Abiola, there has been huge celebration in the country especially from south westerners.
In one fell swoop, President Buhari gave Abiola a posthumous honour that ranked him with all Nigeria’s leaders and also declared June 12, the day Abiola clearly won a democratic election that was annulled by Babangida’s junta, as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
The Abiola household isn’t spared of this joy either.
While many prominent Nigerians have been commending the Buhari-led government on this gesture,two of his daughters, Hafsat Abiola-Costello and Tundun, have decided showing their appreciation in special ways.
Hafsat, who is a daughter of MKO and Kudirat Abiola, went for poetry to celebrate the recognition of her father by President Muhammadu Buhari and the dual honour done for his memory.
Hafsat, who only a day before became the President of Women in Africa, was short of words, but instead sought the help of poetry to express her happiness and gratitude to Muhammadu Buhari, while at the same time chiding Obasanjo, a beneficiary of June 12, for ignoring MKO. Obasanjo did not even ask for a minute of silence for the Democracy martyrs on his inauguration on May 29, 1999, she noted.
Here is Hafsat’s poem for all time:
“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.
Obasanjo silent on June 12 and its heroes as he was sworn in on May 29, 1999
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.”
For Tundun, who is one of the daughters of Bisi Abiola, she wrote an open letter to President Buhari:
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI
I write to offer my most heart-felt thanks for your historic gesture. I cannot overstate my appreciation as a citizen of our great country and as the daughter of a great man.
Thank you for displaying moral courage, leadership, equity, honesty and a noble example worthy of emulation. You have put right a grievous wrong and lifted a heavy weight. Of all the Presidents of the Fourth Republic, I am thankful that it was you and not the one who actually owed him. There is no debt or sentiment behind your decision. It is simply the right thing to do. Your acknowledgement of the winning Muslim/Muslim ticket of my father and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe GCON harkens back to a time when that was not unthinkable in Nigeria.
This yearly commemoration will remind us of who we were, Nigerians first. We were a nation that based judgments on competence, character and antecedents, not tribe or religion. Thank you for fanning the embers to restart the fire for national unity and brotherhood.
The immoral anulment of our freeest and fairest election, my father’s four year incarceration without a fair trial and conviction by a competent court of law, his appalling neglect, suffering and then murder should have been the nadir of the tragic situation but it was not. I always thought you could only kill a man once but every time my father was referred to as the “presumed winner”, he was robbed and killed again. With every effort by some to diminish or entirely erase his contributions, he was robbed and killed again.
Every government since 1999 is a direct result of the struggle initiated by this man but the struggle would never have ignited without the support of other peerless Nigerians who fought alongside him. Contrary to every human instinct of fear, self-interest and self-preservation, people like Chief Gani Fawehinmi GCON challenged a brutal regime. It cost some their lives. My step-mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was brutally, needlessly assassinated at the young age of 45 leaving behind seven children. I recall Chief Alfred Rewane, a man who died at the hands of far lesser men than himself for the offence of being an outstanding patriot. These and many others are Nigerians who invested their all into our country unlike those whose sole aim is to exploit. With a stroke of your pen, you have ensured that they did not die in vain. The weight of living with a grave injustice that Your Excellency has freed my family from is one that no Nigerian should carry. Perhaps your return to the leadership of this country was to heal not just the wounds of corruption and misrule but of all historical injuries since the Civil War.
In the words of our national anthem, “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”. May Your Excellency never labour in vain. God bless Nigeria.
With the highest regards,