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June 12 honours: Igbo leaders kick over exclusion of Prof Nwosu

From Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

Elder statesmen from the South East have expressed dismay over President Muhammadu Buhari’s snub of the role Prof Humphrey Nwosu played in the June 12, 1993, presidential election for which the late MKO Abiola, Babagana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi have been honoured with GCFR and GCON respectively.

Prof Nwosu, the chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC), stood against intimidation and pressure from the junta regime of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida to an- nounce the results of 15 states that showed Abiola in the lead ahead Ibrahim Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in that election. Abiola contested on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). NEC was stopped from releasing the final results of the election by the government.

Prof Nwosu had stubbornly declared part of the election results in spite of the danger and threat to his life.

Therefore, elder statesmen of Igbo extraction: Chief Guy Ikoku; former Minister of Health, Prof ABC Nwosu; former Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi; and former Sec- retary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Joe Nworgu, said the snub of Prof Nwosu in the honours list indicated lack of

presidential recognition of the role played by NEC under Nwosu during the 1993 elections, considered to be the most credible and freest in Ni-geria’s history.

They, however, resoundingly praised the decision to recognize June 12,1993 election and the acclaimed win- ner, Chief Abiola, stressing that government’s action was a recognition of the central place of transparent and credible election in the country’s democracy.

However, expressing surprise that Nwosu was not listed among the key actors of June 12 in the national hon- ours award given by President Buhari, Ikoku argued that it showed that his government was not interested in justice.

He contended that the former NEC boss may have been ignored simply because of where he hails from rather than for any other reason.

Ikoku, a patron of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said: “Prof Humphery Nwosu deserves to be honoured like other people who played noble roles in the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Without his insistence on free and fair election nobody would have been talking about that election.

“The only reason I can give for his being snubbed by the president in the honourary award is that he comes from a tribe and zone that they do not like. But I think there has to be justice, we have to pay attention to this important thing called justice if we must unite and move this country forward.
“At the moment our democracy is limping, people are being killed everyday, government must wake up and do the right thing on all fronts”.

For Prof ABC Nwosu, the former NEC boss suffered a huge psychological trauma as a result of the annulment of the election.

He said that Nwosu who he described as a first class brain staked his life and that of his family for the sake of the election, stressing that the least thing that would have made sense would have been to recognize his effort officially by the government.

The former political adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo said: “Prof Nwosu gave everything he had for the success of that election. He suffered a huge trauma as result of the annulment of that election. He deserves to be honoured. I am baffled that a man who played a major role in the election is not recognized.”

He praised the president for recognizing June 12, Abiola and some key figures who played good roles in the exercise.

“I feel happy and fulfilled that he recognized June 12. I want him to also recognize the brilliant man who made that election possible”.

In his own contribution, Nworgu said it was wrong for the government to have ignored the person that conducted the election.

He said: “What of the ‘goose that laid the golden egg’ being celebrated? That election, with its Operation A4 System gave Nigeria international accolade”.

Nworgu stressed that not doing the right thing would give rise to suspicion and insinuations. “We are all in support of the recognition of June 12 and the honour given to Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi and others . Everybody has been clamour-ing for this recognition, but it must get to everybody that deserves the honour,” he said.

For the Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, (ILT) and former Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof Elo- chukwu Amucheazi, the move by government was still being interrogated by some Nigerians.

He said that giving an hon- our or not to Prof Nwosu was another an issue, but that the President must pay attention to those questioning the process he followed in giving the national honour to the recipients.

“The most important thing is to observe the law of the land in taking action like this,” he said.

The former NOA boss lamented the state of affairs in Nigeria, decrying a situation where innocent Nigerians were being killed on daily basis. He argued that addressing these killings and other problems afflicting the country were more important to Nigerians than giving national honours.

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