Abiola no longer a Nigerian, can’t be given GCFR – Dino Melaye

Dino Melaye

The senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye, caused a stir on the Senate floor on Thursday when he argued that conferring the honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the late Moshood Abiola is a breach of the Nigerian Constitution.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday announced that Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, will be given the nation’s highest national honour.

He also said June 12 will henceforth be preserved as Nigeria’s Democracy Day to further honour him.

The President also directed Mr Abiola’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, be conferred with the second highest honour of Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON).

The GCFR is customarily given to presidents and former presidents.

Citing Chapter 43(2) of the National Honours Act on Thursday, however, Melaye argued that the act does not allow for conferment of the honours on non-Nigerians.

He claimed that Abiola is dead and that automatically makes him not to be a Nigerian.

“I am a democrat, I believe very sincerely that Chief MKO Abiola deserves even more than the President has pronounced because he is a true patriot, philanthropist and should be so 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,” Melaye said.

The lawmaker mentioned a section of the law which he claims buttresses his point.

“Subsection 2 of the act 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 also argued that the act provides that such honour be conferred on the recipient in person and since Abiola is dead, he cannot receive the award.