The Presidency has expressed appreciation to Nigerians for their support and solidarity over the declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day and the conferment of honours on those who played critical roles in the historic poll presumably won by late business mogul, MKO Abiola.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, gave the commendation in a write-up on Sunday, entitled: “June 12 Tsunami and the Ones Who Won’t Forgive Buhari.”
Shehu particularly acknowledged the support of some “unrepentant” critics of the Buhari administration, including Femi Fani Kayode, who lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for taking such a historic decision.
The President had on Wednesday declared June 12 as Democracy Day and the conferment of national honours on Abiola; his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe; and foremost pro-democracy activist, late Gani Fawehinmi.
Shehu said: “Barely after 48 hours by my count, there were over 150,000 tweets on Twitter Trend discussing the new presidential directive. Thankfully and expectedly, over 80 per cent of these tweets and reactions hailed Mr. President’s decision.
“In what could be described as a twist, many of such applauses came from well-known opposition voices like Femi Fani Kayode (@realffk) amongst others.
“The story on Facebook was not an exception. Nigerians were thankful to President Buhari for upholding democracy and staging a surprise when it was least expected.”
The presidential aide, however, observed that those “very vocal section of the country’s elite” who inspired and supported in spirit the June 12 annulment might intensify their attacks against the President’s popular and widely accepted decision to officially recognise June 12 as new Democracy Day.
According to Shehu, the elite’s anger against the new Democracy Day and honour to Abiola as well as the intensity of their attack on Buhari’s person will mount as the momentum he gains becomes manifest.
He said: “If you read the history of our country, hardly do we have the top elite joining hands for the good of the nation.
“While Buhari’s tsunami on June 12 has stoked the anger and the fear of this group, the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the conferment of national honours on MKO, his running mate Ambassador Kingibe and the foremost pro-democracy activist, late Gani Fawehinmi, was in another breath, greeted with great enthusiasm and warmth by Nigerians, most especially on the social media.
“In normal times, even before the shocking master stroke honouring Abiola, President Buhari is a leader who had not been in the good reckoning of a powerful, very vocal section of the country’s elite.
“The reason is basically that they would lose when you put in place corruption-free governance, institute economic growth with special focus on farmers, and a strong drive for inclusiveness particularly regarding women and marginalised sections.”
According to Shehu, the Buhari administration has annoyed these groups by putting in place long neglected infrastructure, establishing a social welfare scheme, the Social Investment Programme targeted at the basic needs of the common citizens.
He said these had given the country a major jump in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.
Shehu further said: “I have nothing to add in concluding this short piece than to call attention of those who annulled the election and all those that helped to sustain the injustice to yet another old Chinese proverb: All relationships have happy endings; if not happy, then it is not the end.”