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I really appreciate this… Kingibe on Buhari’s June 12 announcement

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BABAGANA Kingibe, running mate to Moshood Abiola during the June 12, 1993 presidential election, says he appreciates President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to recognise them as winners of that botched election.

Kingibe made this known during a phone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), declining to comment further as he is in Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage.

“I really appreciate this. I will love to express my feelings, but right now, I am in Makkah praying to make peace with my Maker. There will be time enough to share worldly thoughts with friends,” he said.

According to a presidential press statement issued on Wednesday, Abiola will, on June 12 this year, be conferred a posthumous national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) while Kingibe will  be honoured as a Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Buhari also announced that Democracy Day will henceforth be celebrated in Nigeria on June 12 every year, instead of May 29.

“June 12th, 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even October 1st,” the statement read.

“June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in their millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence.”

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Shortly after the cancellation of the 1993 election, Sani Abacha brushed aside Ernest Shonekan, whom Babangida had put in charge of the government, and became Head of State. He appointed Kingibe as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Kingibe’s acceptance of Abacha’s appointment  – even when Abiola was still fighting to reclaim his mandate –  was seen by many as a sign of betrayal. Many also said Abacha used the appointment to quash any attempt to have the 1993 election validated.

When Abiola was jailed in 1994 for declaring himself president, Kingibe remained in Abacha’s cabinet as Foreign Minister until 1995.

He went on to serve as Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Power and Steel, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Greece and Pakistan. In 2007, Kingibe was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation by late President Musa Yar’Adua, but was sacked a year later after he was rumoured to be positioning himself for the presidency following Yar’Adua’s ill health.

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