June 12: Abiola’s family wants presidential entitlement, rejects “acclaimed winner” prefix

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Although the late MKO Abiola presumed to have won a presidential election 23 years ago wasn’t declared president, and his rival Bashir Tofa is still contesting the election result, the Abiolas now demand presidential entitlements.

According to Muritala Abiola, the late politician deserved the entitlements for dying for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria.

“MKO should be declared president. Although slain, all the entitlements belong to the family,” said MKO’s younger brother, urging the federal government to declare June 12 as Democracy Day.

The family’s claim was made known in Abeokuta June 12,  during the Democracy Walk, an Ogun-sponsored commemoration of the June 12. 1993 presidential election Abiola was said to have won fair and square. The ruling military cabal of President Ibrahim Badamos Babangida annulled the result, though.

Gov. Ibikunle Amosun said in his speech that the whole Nigeria knew Abiola won the presidential election, apparently countering the phrase “acclaimed winner” the media use to refer to the late politician.

“He was a philanthropist and hero of our current democracy,” Amosun said in the speech read by his deputy Yetunde Onanuga.

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There might be no contesting Abiola’s large-heartedness as a business magnate. But his heroics as the SDP flagbearer slain to usher in the current democracy have been facing some kind of rivalry over the years.

For instance, his NRC opponent is not conceding defeat yet because the Humprey Nwosu-led National Electoral Commission has yet to declare the SDP candidate winner.

“Did anybody say he won? Did anyone say I lost?” Tofa, now an APC stalwart, told a Vanguard reporter who dug up the issue in an April interview.

The immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan has also been stealing the show as people around the world brand him a hero for gladly throwing his hands up when he lost the 2015 presidential election

Even the southwestern states at the forefront of the effort to nationalise June 12 and immortalise its hero appear to be flagging. The fanfare that accompanies the anniversary, especially the declaration of public holiday, has died down.

Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and others refused to declare a work-free day on the 23rd celebration of the event.

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