June 12: Obasanjo’s goal was to erase my father’s name – Hafsat Abiola

Hafsat Abiola-Costello

Daughter of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, has alleged that the goal of former President Olusegun Obasanjo was to erase her father’s name.

Mrs Abiola-Costello made the claim in a poem she wrote after President Muhammadu declared June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy Day on Wednesday.

President Buhari also conferred Nigeria’s highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), on Abiola posthumously.

Abiola’s death in custody on July 7, 1998 forced the military government to engineer a transition to a civilian administration which saw Obasanjo sworn in as civilian president on May 29, 1999.

“I had expected that the handover from military rule to democracy would be held on the 12th of June,” Abiola-Costello began.

“That would have signalled the completion of a circle that began with a dream deferred.

“But I waited in vain.

“The handover was set for May 29, a date pulled out of thin air, signifying nothing. “

Obasanjo is widely regarded as the chief beneficiary of Abiola’s struggle and death.

“Then I thought the chief beneficiary would ask the country to observe a minute of silence in memory of MKO, Kudirat, Alfred Rewane, Umaru Yar’Adua, Bagauda Kaltho, the thousands of students, the tens of thousands of journalists, traders and politicians who lost their lives fighting to actualise an unjustly annulled election.

“Again, I waited in vain for he started his inauguration speech…

“And nothing was said.

“The first four years passed and it became clear that the goal was to erase the name of the man whose sacrifice paved the way for our democracy.

“Those four years set the tone.

“And I got tired of waiting.

“As it slowly became clear that to wait was to wait in vain.

“I stopped expecting my country to do the right thing by my father and instead began to understand why Nigeria struggles to find patriots among its leaders.

“Until today.”

She thanked Buhari for the honour, writing: There are no words that can capture the depth of my gratitude not the breadth of my joy.

“I thank God that I am alive to witness this day.”

Her sisters, Wura Abiola and Rinsola Abiola, in messages posted on Twitter, also expressed gratitude at the honour coming 25 years after Nigeria’s freest and fairest election ever.