Former General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori, has expressed disappointment over President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to keep his promise to honour other actors in the June 12 saga with national honours.
Kokori, who authored the book, Frank Kokori: The Struggle for June 12, also frowned at what he described as ‘chrony-chrony’ pattern of dishing out national honours, by successive administrations, to those who had not really merited them.
According to him, the culture of issuing national honours in Nigeria was opposed to the practice in advanced climes where such were strictly reserved for those who had done unusual acts of patriotism and exhibited positive virtues that could be emulated.
Kokori, who said President Buhari had promised to recognise the immense roles played by various persons, including those who lost their lives to the June 12 struggle, with national honours, however observed that many who could not be said to have played particular roles in the struggle had made more gains, including receiving special recognition, than those who sacrificed their essences to make democracy a reality in the country.
“When President Buhari, two years ago, decided to do the proper thing by recognising the sacrifices that many of us made to give meaning to democracy in Nigeria and declared June 12 the actual Democracy Day for our nation, many, including those who complicated a simple process into a bloodbath, hailed him.
“At that time we applauded him for summoning the courage that many failed to and for being truthful to issues, however, we still told him that institutionalising June 12 as Democracy Day and conferring the GCFR on the late MKO were not enough, those were just halfway to redemption. Those who played critical roles should also be made to feel honoured, including those who lost their lives to the struggle.
“He agreed to honour those you will consider the heroes of the struggle, at least those who played the frontline roles, with honours, but sadly, till now that I speak to two, two full years after, no words have come from the President on it. Whereas, people like Obasanjo, Kingibe and even himself, the President, are all sitting in their comfy environments, enjoying the fruits of that struggle.
“It ought not to be like this, I expected better from him. Mind you, this is not just for me, but for many of those comrades who defied all the dangers and hardship to stand against tyranny and insisted on a better deal, democratically, for Nigeria. If the problem is identifying them, I and other key players can volunteer to draw out the list of those whom we know deserve the honour,” he said.