Late M.K.O. Abiola

Wives of the late Chief MKO Abiola, alleged winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election are likely to be put on pension by the federal government, The Nation reports.

According to the report, a highly-placed government source over the weekend said Abiola’s running mate, ambassador Babagana Kingibe also stands to benefit from the plan.

The idea, mooted by the federal government will, however, be proposed as an executive bill to the national assembly for passage, it was further learnt.

Abiola, a billionaire businessman, won the election believed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria history, with a pan-Nigerian mandate. But, the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida annulled the results.

Abiola was incarcerated when he stood up to fight for the reclamation of his mandate. He died in custody on July 8, 1998.

The military returned to the barracks after conducting the election that ushered in the Fourth Republic in 1999.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari decided to honour the late Abiola by declaring June 12 Democracy Day in place of May 29, gave Abiola the highest national honour as the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) posthumous and officially recognize his victory in that election. Kingibe was awarded the second national honour, The Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

On the plan to compensate the Abiola family, the highly-placed government official said: “The honours bring them (the late Abiola and his running mate at par with all past heads of state and their deputies.”

The source added: “There has been no concomitant benefit to them since that recognition because the law did not foresee this kind of situation.

“You know there is no monetary attachment to national honours. But, there is a thinking that this must be reviewed because wives of former heads of state who had passed on get quarterly allowances, which are overseen by the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF).

“Those (past heads of state) who are living get their entitlement and when they are dead, their next of kin get certain benefits from the government. But, for Abiola and Kingibe, this requires legislation.

“There is a thinking that the Abiola family (next of kin) deserves attention. The same thing goes for Kingibe,” the source said.