Updated: March 6, 2021
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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday recognized one of his country’s most famous journalists, human rights and pro-democracy activist, Richard Akinnola, who is known to speak truth to power.
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President Buhari used Akinnola’s 60th birthday celebration to shower praises on him.
The President commended “the uncompromising posture of the activist in always telling the truth to leaders, insisting on propriety and regularly mobilizing to safeguard the sanctity of human rights and the integrity of the nation”.
Akinnola, who is extremely active on the social media, especially Facebook, has written extensively on Nigerian political landscape, including all the coups that shook Nigeria to the core after independence from Great Britain in 1960.
He has agitated for years for Nigeria to be a true democracy and is a frequent contributor to cable networks in Lagos where he lives. He is also the co-founder of one of Nigeria’s first human rights organizations.
In recognizing Akinnola six months to a presidential election, Mr. Buhari might be trying to win a friend, or was simply acknowledging someone who has contributed extensively to the Nigerian society.
In a way, Akinnola has been able to navigate all sides of the Nigerian political ecosystem, and has successfully avoided being branded an opposition or a pro-government journalist.
“President Buhari joins family, friends and colleagues of the journalist, the media and civil society in celebrating the landmark age, which he has dedicated to the service of God, country and humanity,” said Mr. Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina.
“President Buhari reaffirms that the democracy that the country enjoys today was borne out of the sacrifices and forthrightness of individuals like Akinnola, who have not relented in fighting for good governance and ensuring that democracy transcends elections to include a lifestyle of respect, dignity and accountability in Nigeria.
“The President extols Akinnola’s magnanimity in setting up a foundation, Richard Akinnola Foundation, which caters for the underprivileged and families of journalists.
“The President prays that the almighty God will grant Akinnola longer life, good health and prosperity as he continues serving the country”.
This article was written by Simon Ateba, a renowned African journalist based in Washington DC