The Senator representing Kogi West District, Dino Melaye, has backtracked on his position that the Federal Government’s decision to honour presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola, with Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) was wrong.
Clearly against his previous stance on the award, the embattled lawmaker now fully supports the decision which has continued to generate debates.
Melaye featured prominently in news and social media posts in the past few days over his comment on the conferment.
At the Senate plenary on Thursday, he argued that the National Honours Act provides that such a honour be conferred on the recipient in person; and since Abiola is dead, he cannot receive the award.
He added that the act provides that the honour be bestowed on Nigerians and since Abiola is dead, “he is no longer Nigerian”.
Melaye’s comment was widely criticised by many Nigerians.
However, in a statement on Sunday, Melaye backtracked, saying his previous comments were “misrepresented.”
He said his support for the award is unshaken as he had been clamouring for such years before.
“Since last two days, I have been inundated with calls and text messages from well-meaning Nigerians especially my constituents, who want to inquire my exact position on the declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day and the conferment of the highest National Honours of GCFR on the late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, my views and belief on the sanctity of June 12 and the place of the late MKO Abiola in Nigeria’s democratic history, have not changed and will not.
“Hence, in my view, the decision by the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to honour the late business mogul was deserving and long overdue save for the attendant legal issues raised.
“It is a verifiable fact that I have canvassed for this recognition for Abiola over the years, and granted interview to Channels Television two years ago, where I advocated for same.”
The lawmaker did not offer any clarification on his earlier statement on the “loss of citizenship of the deceased.”
He instead urged the Federal Government to work on what he said were legal encumbrances surrounding the decision and to alter the National Honours Act “to accomodate the new development.”