TWENTY four years after the annulment of June 12, 1993, presidential election believed to have been won by Chief Moshood Abiola, Nigerians, especially in the South West geopolitical zone, gathered to demand good governance and restructuring of the country.
While the manner of the celebration of the anniversary differed across the states in the zone, the messages that resonated centred on the significance of June 12 in Nigeria’s political development and the need to honour the date nationally.
In Lagos, pro-democracy activists gathered at Abiola’s home to urge Nigerians to use this year’s anniversary as a platform to demand good governance and restructuring.
They also regretted that the gains recorded through the June 12 struggle were being rubbished by some people in the position of authority, who were not part of the June 12 struggle.
Those at the anniversary forum entitled: The Hope of Equitable Restructuring of Nigeria include, Sen Sehu Sani; Director General of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs Affairs, NIIA, Prof Bola Akinterinwa; former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforoji; Mr. Odia Ofiemun; President Ijaw Monitoring Group, Comrade Joseph Evah; former Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Comrade Ayodele Adewale; National Chairman of National Conscience Party, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, Mr. Kayode Salako; Prof Ishaq Akintola and Mr. Abdul Abiola, MKO Abiola’s son, among others.
|June 12 lecture: Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State addressing the audience at the June 12 Democracy Day Lecture, themed: 24 Years after, June 12 Challenges of Democracy in Nigeria, at Aurora Event Centre, Osogbo, yesterday.|
”Today is an opportunity to question power over the inability to solve the problems in our country, it is not just only about restructuring. Buhari is not the problem. It is utopian to think that the integrity of one man will give him the magic wand to solve our problems. The solution to our problems extends beyond President Buhari’s integrity.”
Declare Abiola President-elect — Amosun
The anniversary was celebrated with a walk tagged; Democracy Walk: Lets Walk the Hope.
The exercise which was led by Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, President Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin and Afenifere Spokesman, Yinka Odumakin started at 7.00: am at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta.
Speaking at the event, Amosun said Abiola paid the supreme price for Nigeria’s democracy.
His words: “Abiola laboured so much for us. He paid the supreme price for Nigeria’s democracy. The cause he died for transcends Abeokuta, Ogun State, South West and Africa. And we are happy about that. Nigerians trusted him and that was why they voted for him and he must be recognised as an elected President. It is a history we must continue to recognise. He was the President-elect but denied the opportunity to govern. He lives on. We must toe the path Abiola toed. M.K.O will continue to live on and generations will come to know what June 12 is all about.”
While calling for restructuring, Amosun said: “I am for it but we must do it in a way that Nigeria will be indivisible.”
Okei-Odumakin said: “June 12 is our own watershed. June 12 votes cut across tribal and religious lines, it helps in promoting national integrity. June 12 was about three choices. It was nonviolent, it was a raining day and people went out with a nonviolent approach. MKO defeated Bashir Tofa in his own place, so Nigerians set aside colonial interest and overwhelmingly voted for a Muslim, Muslim ticket”
Nigerians should keep June 12 ideals alive— Ambode
Also, at a symposium convened by Lagos State government in conjunction with June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations, the state governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode urged Nigerians to continue to remain united and uphold democratic values.
He said: “It is an open fact that successive democratically elected governments in the state since 1999 have been totally committed to democratic principles, rule of law, strengthening of democratic institutions as well as implementation of programmes and policies that would enhance the well-being of all Lagosians, without bias for tribe, religion, political belief or gender.
“To strengthen the hope of the masses in the principles of democracy, our administration embraced ‘all-inclusive policy’ which was geared towards involving all segments of the populace in the governance process. Avenues and institutions were created to enable all have a voice in the affairs of the State.”
Besides, Governor Ambode urged Nigerians to keep alive the principles of June 12 by upholding democratic values and culture especially by participating in democratic processes such as voters’ registration exercise, voting for candidates of choice and avoid any act that could disrupt peaceful conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
Abiola stood for good governance — Ajimobi
In Oyo State, the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi in a statement by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, said the ideals of good governance which Abiola stood for, and the supreme price he paid would remain evergreen.
He said: “It was this conviction that Nigerian masses should be freed from their oppressors and that the destiny of the whole nation should not be held to ransom by a cabal that propelled him to stand by his mandate and to defend it to the last.
“The democracy that we all are enjoying now was made possible by the likes of Chief Abiola, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Frank Kokori, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others too numerous to mention.”
Akeredolu immortalises Abiola in Ondo
Similarly, at an event organised by Ondo State government in honour of Abiola, the state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, announced the renaming of the Democracy Park in Akure as MKO Abiola Democracy Park.
Akeredolu said: “The statement made by the 14 million votes to elect MKO Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe was, and still remains, the most authentic plebiscite conducted since the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914.
“The June 12, 1993, presidential election, won by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, unravelled many grandiloquent hypocrites. “
Also at the forum, a human rights activist, Chief Femi Falana, SAN, called on the Federal Government to elevate June 12 to a national event.
He said: “June 12 election gives room for freedom. We should not be bothered that the celebration was restricted to the six states in the South West. It is going to be a national event very soon.”
Nevertheless, Falana advocated for proper restructuring of Nigeria, which he described as not negotiable. He said that political restructuring without economic restructuring was not the solution to the under-development of the country.
June 12 is birthday of Nigeria’s revolution – Gani Adams
On his part, National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Otunba Gani Adams has said that the June 12 struggle will go down in history as the birthday of Nigeria’s revolution.
Speaking during the 24th commemoration of the annulled June 12, 1993 elections, Adam chided the Federal Government for being indifferent in celebrating the acclaimed winner of the June 12 Presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola.”
In his speech entitled: MKO: A symbol of Freedom in the History of Nigerian Democracy, Otunba Adams said: “June 12 will always be remembered by those who have defied the culture of silence and conspiracy against a significant moment in Nigerian history, to remind us of how today, 24 years ago, the battle against the exit of the military from power was fought at the ballot by a determined Nigerian people.”