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Benin City, Nigeria. A lot has happened lately in the Nigerian socio-political and economic sectors.
One of the actions recently undertaken by the Federal Government of Nigeria is the posthumous conferment of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the former Are Onakankanfo of Yoruba and presumed winner of the free, fair and credible June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

Benin City, Nigeria. A lot has happened lately in the Nigerian socio-political and economic sectors.
One of the actions recently undertaken by the Federal Government of Nigeria is the posthumous conferment of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the former Are Onakankanfo of Yoruba and presumed winner of the free, fair and credible June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

Two others are: the passage of the 2018 Budget and the Not Too Young To Run Law.
Martyr of Democracy: As a most talked-about and dominant core media and social media issue, the GCFR, Nigeria's highest and ultimate national honour for President and military heroes and heroines, which President Muhammadu Buhari posthumously conferred on the late Chief Abiola has continued to generate reactions from citizens. From the partial results that were released by the Professor Humphrey Nwosu-chaired National Electoral Commission (NEC), Abiola was coasting to a landslide victory when the military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida ordered a suspension of the result before later cancelling the election after unsubstantiated allegation of corruption and rigging was made.
A pan-Nigerian from Ogun State, Abiola declared himself President at the famous Epetedo Square in Lagos Island after his return months later, following endless protests for the revalidation of the election. This writer, who had just secured his admission to a closed University of Lagos, participated in violent street protests that saw many citizens inhumanly mowed by military bullets.
The then Head of State, late General Sanni Abacha declared Abiola's declaration treasonable before clamping him into detention. Abiola died in detention in 1998 in suspicious circumstances. While official autopsy reported natural causes, unconfirmed reports suggested either poison or torture. No official Federal Government enquiry has been carried out to determine what happened since 1993.
Apart from the recognition granted Abiola, a husband, father and family head; a social activist, freedom fighter, successful businessman and renowned philanthropist; President Buhari also conferred a posthumous honour of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON), Nigeria's highest honour for an ordinary citizen, on Chief Gani Oyesola Fawehinmi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights advocate; as well as on Abiola's running mate in the truncated election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe.
The legal propriety of the presidential pronouncement that now recognizes June 12 as Nigeria's Democracy Day (from May 29) made on June 6, 2018, has continued to generate debate and reaction from citizens with different interpretations, analyses and meanings.
A few commentators have also attempted to look at the socio-political intention and impact of the award that Abiola's son, Mr Kola Abiola received on his father's behalf, with regards to the presidential and general elections of February 14, 2019. While observers have urged caution to avoid inflammatory commentaries on the annulment, it has notably taken 25 years for the contributions of both Abiola and Fawehinmi to modern Nigeria to be appreciated. Considering that a National Assembly resolution to name the National Stadium in Abuja after Chief Abiola, martyr of the freedom being enjoyed by the allegedly greedy, corrupt, ungodly and inhuman rulers, leaders and elites of Nigeria had been tacitly rebuffed in the past and considering that a similar past attempt that re-named the University of Lagos as Moshood Abiola University was overwhelmingly rejected by citizens, President Buhari's action is historic, commendable and appreciated. Agreeably with the analyses of some commentators, it would have been noteworthy without being less significant, if ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo had honoured Abiola as Nigerians popularly demanded after benefitting from Abiola's death to ascend the presidency on May 29, 1999. Though it may look now like a chance he missed to etch his name in gold, it cannot be denied, however, that Chief Obasanjo will still be remembered in the future, whatsoever.
Worthy National Honourees: In the view of citizens, the hullabaloo over the legal propriety of the presidential pronouncement is not only distractive and avoidable but also needless. Beyond the ironies some commentators have identified, Chief Abiola and Chief Famehinmi are worthy honourees of Nigerian national honours, especially when accepted by their families. President Buhari followed a precedent that had been set before now. A former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, as a mark of respect and recognition of Chief Obafemi Awolowo's contributions to the development of Nigeria posthumously honoured him with GCFR in 1983. It is the same footstep of history former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan followed in renaming the University of Lagos. While it may be recalled that the University of Ife was re-named after Obafemi Awolowo, the Federal University, Bauchi was re-named after Tafawa Balewa as well as other institutions that were re-named after Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief S.L. Akintola, Michael Okpara, Tai Solarin and other statesmen by past governments, lack of consultation—a basic ingredient that differentiates democracy from military fiat—accounted for the unpopularity of the UNILAG name change.
Validity of Posthumous Award and Holiday; On the legal validity of posthumous awards and proclamation of June 12 as Nigeria's Democracy Day, a lot has been debated already with many citizens arguing to support President Buhari even as some others have argued to oppose him. Two leading citizens that have openly backed the President are: Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). On the other hand, a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, has questioned the legality of Mr President's posthumous awards; even as others have criticised the proclamation of June 12 as Democracy Day without the consideration and approval of National Assembly. Before delving into the debate of whether Mr President is legally limited or not, it is expedient to explain that President Buhari got his power from the National Honours Act and the Public Holidays Act. 

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