Abuja – The Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Bayo Onanuga, on Tuesday, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s honouring of late Chief MKO Abiola as “a healing process’’.
He said this in his goodwill message at the Special National Honours Investiture of the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993, Presidential Election, Abiola, his running mate, Babagana Kingibe and late activist, Chief Gani Fawehimi, in Abuja.
Onanuga said that June 12 was a day of opportunity lost for Nigerians.
According to him, it was about the spirit of nationhood that was grossly violated. June 12 was about justice denied.
“I want to thank the President for addressing this great injustice and for bringing back June 12 that people thought was not going to be.
“It was a phoenix; you buried it but it has come alive today,’’ he stated.
The NAN boss recalled that Buhari had predicted the annulment of the June 12 polls.
He said that Buhari had hinted in an interview he granted to two journalists, late Bagauda Kalto and Timothy Bonnet of Tell Magazine that the transition programme being conducted by former President Ibrahim Babangida was a fluke.
“Buhari told the journalists what to expect of June 12,’’ he said.
He quoted the president as saying “what we are going through now is not really a transition to democracy but it is a pseudo democracy that is not meant to work.
“The transition programme is not meant to work and I mean it.’’
According to Onanuga, some weeks later we had an election and this election was annulled.
He recalled that Nigerians trooped out to vote for MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, but regretted that the outcome of the exercise was discarded.
“We need to reflect upon the opportunity that June 12 presented to Nigerians. It was one day that brought all of us together as a family, indivisible by our ethnic background and religion.
“But, the junta at that time chose to neglect what we stood for and set us back decades, trying to make it difficult for us to achieve unity as a country.’’
Filled with emotion, Onanuga said he had not cried on a lot of times, “but today, I am overwhelmed with a lot of emotions, especially when the president spoke and tendered an apology to people of Nigeria over June 12.
“Today is an emotional day and many people prayed that they would see today.
“Mr President has done something that is very massive, that is very earth-shaking, by choosing to right the wrongs of 25 years of injustice.’’
He urged the President to ignore negative reports in the social media or some critics, especially coming from familiar quarters “as they are people who do not support June 12, people who betrayed June 12.
“Just stay focused, Mr President, remain focused and you have done something that will go down well in history.
“For me, anytime is a good time to right the wrongs of history; that is what the president has done and he deserves all accolades from all right-thinking Nigerians.’’
He thanked Buhari for recognizing the media struggle for democracy, saying that sometimes, the government and people in government forgot the media.
“But, the media are the people who bring out everything, publish what you say; without us you cannot project yourself,
“We are the ones that project you. So, thank you Mr President for the recognition.’’ (NAN)