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June 12 Democracy Day: Buhari’s Greek Gifts to the Southwest

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Hmmmmm, President Muhammadu Buhari must have done well by naming June 12 as the Democracy Day instead of the May 29 that has been celebrated for 18 years.

He also did well by awarding winner of the June 1993 presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR. He went further to award the late fiery lawyer and Human Rights Activist late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) with Grand Commander of Order of Niger. Both posthumously.

Shifting the date of Democracy Day to June 12 and conferring the highest National honour on Chief MKO Abiola are well within President Muhammadu Buhari’s rights.

It is the President’s prerogative to confer honours on who he deems fit. After all President Goodluck Jonathan in two separate years conferred the second highest honours on business moguls Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga…both are none state actors conferred with honours supposedly reserved for top government players especially Vice Presidents.

But to truly appreciate the gesture one must look beyond the honours to the motives behind it.

I see it as a Greek gift, Trojan horse (if you may) aimed at two important targets.  One, the South West region and two the Civil society who have been shouting about recognizing the June 12 and the ultimate actor Chief MKO Abiola.

Today, two prominent sons of the South West have been honoured MKO Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi posthumously. They both fought and lost their lives to bring civil rule to this country.

Successive Federal regimes never honoured these great men, including the government led by another illustrious Yoruba son, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

MKO and Fawehinmi, both elicit deep emotions when they are remembered…both are seen as men who died fighting for what they believed in….if anything this a reach out to the region…remember in the last 18 years only states in this region have kept the memories of these two men alive.

On the other hand, the Civil society has fought long and hard for this and in a fell swoop, two prominent symbols by whom they swear by are now being honoured…is it not ironical that the honours are being given by a man many would love to believe is a dictator?

There are many hands behind the scene on this one but a prominent hand I see is that of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Tinubu, a key player in NADECO and was the first Governor to declare that June 12 was Lagos state’s own democracy day…in fact, after the Peoples Democratic Party conquered the South West between 2003 and 2007, Lagos was the only state celebrating June 12.

It is a deft political move that impresses it on the South West that it is an important partner in this government and also tries to woo the civil society into believing the man Buhari is not as bad as being painted.

Will it work? I suspect this is the first of some strategic gestures aimed at turning the wave of unpopularity for Buhari in the South West.

This is also a slap on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s face. The former President constantly resisted anything that would honour MKO throughout his stay in government. During his first term it might even have been possible but by the second term when he had been gripped by a “god complex”, it was an option that could not even come up for discussion.

In my view, the only downside to these belated gestures was the inclusion of Babagana Kingibe as a beneficiary of an honour….to me being honoured for a mandate you did not believe in is like rewarding a traitor for betrayal….but that is just my opinion.

The question to ask now is whether Buhari really believes in what he has just done or another political intrigue towards 2019 polls. Is it another Greek gift or one borne out of passion and genuine desire?

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