Reacting to President Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy Day effective from 2019, Enyinnaya Abaribe, a PDP senator from Abia State, who first commended President Buhari on the move, asked President Buhari to declare December 31 as Democracy Destruction Day to mark the coup he led to end Nigeria’s Second Republic in 1983.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who recounted how Buhari on December 31, 1983 led a group of senior army officers to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari, said December 31, 1983 is significant enough to mark the day democracy was destroyed in Nigeria. He urged the president to declare the date just as he did June 12.
Senator Abaribe who was cut short by his colleague, Barau Jibrin (Kano-APC), who raised a point of order to call the attention of the Senate to a derailment from issue being discussed, said;
“I support what Senator Olujimi and also what the Deputy Senate President had said, insisting that there may have to be an amendment of the constitution. I also want to add that it would also be necessary for the Executive to quickly bring to the National Assembly, an amendment to the Honours Act which states that there cannot be posthumous award.
Now that they have jumped the gun to do posthumous award, it would be necessary for us to quickly amend that act. Finally, I want to also propose another day since we are now moving in the right direction, saying that democracy is needed, I want to propose that we also designate 31st December as Democracy Destruction Day because that was the day that this same president did a coup.”
This is coming after Senator Dino Melaye argued that President Buhari cannot posthumously award MKO Abiola with the GCFR title, because the acclaimed June 12 1993 election winner is dead and therefore no longer a citizen of Nigeria.
“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 sole decorated. 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. Section (2) 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. 3(2) subject to the next notice, ‘A person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an order when the President receives him in person’. Mr. President, they said ‘in person’. 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” he said.