Sen. Dino Melaye has told President Muhammadu Buhari the late MKO Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential election, recently conferred with Nigeria’s highest title, is not a Nigerian, and as such cannot be so honoured except the constitution is amended.
The GCFR is reserved for presidents and former presidents.
Only the late Obafemi Awolowo was conferred with the honour by former President Sheu Shagari in the Second Republic.
Citing Chapter 43(2) of the National Honours Act on Thursday, Melaye argued that the act does not allow for conferment of the honours on non-Nigerians.
According to him, Abiola is dead and that automatically makes him a non-Nigerian.
“I am a democrat. I believe very sincerely that Chief M.K.O Abiola deserve even more than the president has pronounced because he is a true patriot, philanthropist and should be so decorated,” the Kogi West senator said.
“But Mr. President, we are governed in the country by the constitution and extant laws. No matter how beautiful a situation is, the law of the land remains the law of the land.”
He further quited Subsection 2 of the act, which says, “a person shall be eligible for appointment to any rank or holder unless he is a citizen of Nigeria”.
“A dead man is not a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We should not be emotional about this. The law remains the law.”
Melaye insisted the act provides that such honour be conferred on the recipient “in person”, and since Abiola is dead, he cannot receive the award.
“For us to do what we are supposed to do, we would have to amend the provisions of this act because anything we need to do, we have to do in accordance with the provisions of the law.”
Melaye’s position on the conferment might not be popular.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, however, announced Melaye’s points of order were noted
Many Nigerians, suspicious of Buhari’s move though, welcome it.
The president also directed June 12 will henceforth be preserved as Nigeria’s Democracy Day to further honour Abiola.
He equally directed Abiola’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, be conferred with the second highest honour of Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON).