Remove Obstacles to Free, Fair Elections, NLC Tells Buhari

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Our Correspondents
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remove obstacles to free and fair elections in the forthcoming elections.
While congratulating Nigerians on the 25th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said: “President Buhari has already declared June 12 as a national holiday in commemoration of our democracy. He has also conferred the highest honour in the land on the arrowhead of the June 12 struggle, Chief MKO Abiola.

“This confirms June 12 as a muster point of our democratic aspirations as one people united by the quest for wellbeing, dignity and prosperity. We salute the working class, civil society activists, the trade unions, women and student groups for their roles and sacrifice in defending the sanctity of June 12 and enthroning our current democracy.”
NLC, however, urged the federal government to identify fully with the ideals and lessons of June 12 by removing all obstacles to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

Calling on the government to also enforce relevant provisions in our Electoral Act that places a ceiling on political campaign financing and criminalise violence, vote buying and sundry fraudulent acts, Wabba added that “the core of his campaign message was the promise to eradicate poverty.”

Elected Third Republic Office Holders Deserve Compensation
As President Muhammadu Buhari’s formal recognition of late MKO Abiola as the winner of 1993 presidential poll continues to elicit diverse reactions, the president has been urged to go the whole hog and pay all entitlements lost by elected office holders in the botched third republic.

Former Abia State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made the call in a statement he issued in reaction to the resurrection of the June 12 saga, saying the recognition of the acclaimed winner of the June 12 poll after a long time “is better late than never.”

Following the annulment of the June 12 presidential poll, all the democratic structure already in place were eventually dismantled when the military displaced the Interim National Government of Chief Ernest Shonekan.
All the National Assembly members, state governors and state Houses of Assembly members were sent packing in the military coup staged by late General Sani Abacha.

But Senator Nwaka argued that those affected by the military intervention should be compensated for the untimely termination of their tenures whether as governors, federal or state lawmakers in the aborted third republic.
“It will help if the government goes the whole hog,” he said, adding that aside from the presidential election which was annulled, other democratically elected structures like the national and state Houses of Assembly “were unconstitutionally sent packing”  hence the need for compensation.”

Abiola’s Kinsmen in Ogun Seek President’s Tenure Extension By Two Weeks

As a mark of honour to celebrate June 12 as democracy day in Nigeria, kinsmen of the acclaimed winner of the annulled 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola, in Gbagura area of Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, have urged the federal government to extend the president’s tenure in office by two weeks, instead of the usual handover date of May 29 to June 12 in order to coincide with the recently approved democracy day celebration.

The Abiola’s kinsmen under the monarchical order of Agura of Gbagura, Oba Halidu Olaloko (the Sobekun II) and Gbagura Council of Chiefs jointly declared yesterday that the shift in the president’s tenure and handover date by two weeks becomes imperative with a view to properly actualise the June 12, 1993, annulment date, and thereby immortalising Abiola, who sacrificed his life for the Nigerian democracy.

Reacting to the federal government’s gesture to actualise the date at a press conference held at Agura Palace, a stone throw away to Abiola’s family house at Oke-Iddo in Abeokuta, Oba Olaloko applauded President Buhari and National Assembly for the steps that had taken but urged them to have a second look by extending the president’s handover date from May 29 to June 12.

Delta APC Salutes Buhari for Honouring Abiola, Kingibe and Fawehinmi
Leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta State has described the conferment of the highest national award of Grand

Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993, presidential election by President Muhammadu Buhari as commendable and historic.
The party in statement issued by its state Publicity Secretary, Moses Kamanya, thanked the president for the landmark decision in honouring “these democracy heroes and giving them their right place in history where the previous governments failed.”

He noted that the president’s awards to two other prominent Nigerians,
Abiola’s running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, and the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) is a proof that the president recognised the sacrifices of these leaders to the attainment of the present democracy.

The party noted that “the posthumous award bestowed on Abiola
and others by President Buhari has set the country on path of justice and truth because democracy has been given its right footing.
“The president declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day is a great moment for Nigerians; this decision has corrected the wrong of the past.”
Fayose Declares June 12 Public Holiday

Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has declared June 12  a public holiday in honour of the winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week proclaimed June 12 a democracy day that should be observed as a public holiday in honour of Abiola.

In a statement issued yesterday in Ado Ekiti and signed by his Chief Press Secretary,  Idowu Adelusi, Fayose said the holiday would not affect those on essential services like doctors working in government hospitals and men of the state Fire Service.
“As done last year, I have directed that on June 12 be observed as public holiday in Ekiti State. This is to demonstrate our belief in the sanctity of that day as the day the seed of democracy was planted in Nigeria.

“It is hoped that in the spirit of June 12, which has now become the bride of even those who scuttled it and benefited from the annulment, free, fair and credible elections must be allowed in the country so that our democracy can be further sustained.
“For me, the best honour that can be done to Abiola and other unsung heroes of the June 12 struggle, is for Nigerians to be allowed unrestricted freedom to elect whoever they want as leaders,” he said.

Let Buhari Compensate Abiola, Others, Says Akerele
A former Personal Assistant to late Chief Moshood Abiola Lisa Olu Akerele, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his honour by ensuring his family is financially compensated for the loss and pains it suffered in the June 12 saga.

Referring specifically to Abiola’s crumbled business empire, including Concord Press of Nigeria, Radio Communication Nigeria Limited, Abiola Bookshops, Abiola Bakeries, Abiola Farms, Concord Airlines and Summit Oils, Akerele said these should be compensated to enable some of the companies return to life.

While commending Buhari for granting deserved posthumous honour to Abiola, Akerele noted that those who suffered incarceration and other economic losses must be compensated to ameliorate the pains they suffered in the wake of the June 12, 1993, political crisis which followed the annulment of the June 12 presidential election.
He pointed out that the clamp down on the country visited on activists during the late General Sani Abacha jack-boot reign strangulated them both politically and economically, leading to the death of many leading lights in the struggle for democracy.

The veteran journalist, who was also a victim of the junta where he was incarcerated for two years by Abacha, was on hand to convey Abiola’s corpse back to Lagos after his death in detention in Abuja.

Akerele had sustained an underground campaign after General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) returned the mantle of leadership to civilians for the federal government to reverse the June 12 annulment and honor Abiola with the nation’s highest award. The campaign has come to fruition with Buhari’s recent amnesty.