Kola Abiola, eldest son of MKO Abiola, says he couldn’t get former President Goodluck Jonathan to honour his father despite making three attempts.
Abiola, presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, was recently honoured with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking during a Channels Television programme on Thursday, Kola said he made attempts to have Jonathan bestow the GCFR title on his late father but it was not possible due to political reasons.
Kola said he approached Mohammed Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, to get Jonathan to honour Abiola during the centenary celebration in 2014, instead, a gold award was presented to his late father which the family rejected.
As the 2015 elections grew closer, Kola said he made the second attempt by writing a letter to Jonathan through Tunde Bakare, overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, yet nothing was done.
A final attempt, he said, was made after the former president lost the 2015 election but nothing came out of it.
He said: “Towards the election, I approached them again, this time in writing, and solicited the help of Pastor Bakare and told them that even if it was for selfish political reasons, this was something you could do to help your chances of winning elections.
“I really didn’t mind how he got it done. But we couldn’t get former President Jonathan to get it done so we left that.
“After he lost the election, I approached him a second time also through the same Pastor Bakare to try to get him to do this as a legacy of his presidency, something that Nigerians would never forget about him. Last minute, we couldn’t get it to happen.”
Kola said he sent a letter once again through Bakare to President Muhammadu Buhari after he took office.
He said the president immediately showed interest and exceeded the expectations of the family by bestowing his father with the highest honour in the country.
Alfa Belgore, a former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), had argued that conferring GCFR on Abiola was illegal, saying it could not be awarded posthumously.
But Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the president is not prohibited by law from conferring national honours on deserving Nigerians, dead or alive.
In 2014, Ameyo Adadevoh, a doctor who helped curtail the spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria, was not given a national honour.
Doyin Okupe, former senior special assistant to Jonathan on public affairs, had said the establishing laws of national honours made it impossible for the president to confer a posthumous honour on her.