By Edith Ike-Eboh
The Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Bayo Onanuga says he cried after President Muhammadu Buhari tendered an apology to the family of Chief MKO Abiola and Nigerians over the annulment of June 12, 1993, presidential elections in the country.
Onanuga spoke on behalf of the press Tuesday in Abuja at the conferment of national honours on Abiola, who was adjudged to have won the June 12 presidential elections as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Others honoured with him were Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, his running mate and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, human and civil rights activist.
The NAN MD, who was part of those who struggled and stood for June 12, during his defining days as a journalist, said: ‘‘I have not cried for about 40 years of my life but today I was overwhelmed with a lot of emotions, especially when the President spoke and tendered an apology to the people of Nigeria over June 12.
‘‘I also began to cry when my little sister, Hafsat Abiola spoke. I had to wipe my tears.
‘‘Today is a very emotional day and I think most of us will pray that we see today because for the first time the President has done something that I believe is very massive by choosing to right the wrong of 25 years,’’ he said.
Onanuga said President Buhari deserved some accolades from all right-thinking Nigerians, urging the Nigerian leader not to be perturbed by the vituperations of some people who betrayed, never supported nor believed on June 12.
In his goodwill message at the ceremony, Onanuga recognised the struggles and roles of his former colleagues in the News magazine and other journalists, who were involved in the June 12 campaign.
He listed Mr Kunle Ajibade, Mr Babafemi Ojodu, who now works for the President as his political adviser, Nosa Igiebor, Dare Babarinsa, Onome Omifo-Whiskey of Tell magazine.
He also remembered and honoured the memory of Bagauda Kaltho of the News magazine who died in the struggle.
Onanuga recounted that Kaltho and Timothy Bonnet conducted an interview with Buhari in 1993 in Kaduna, where the President had told Nigerians why he was removed, as Head of State in 1985, by the same junta that annulled June 12 elections.
‘‘In that interview with the News Magazine, the President told us what to expect on June 12… he said: ‘‘what we are going through now is not really a transition to democracy but is a pseudo-democracy. It wouldn’t work or has it worked. It is not meant to work. The transition programme was not meant to work and I mean it,’’ (NAN)