Ambode, Amosun, Akeredolu, Aregbesola, Gani Adams, Ndubuisi Kanu, Shehu Sani, Odumakin, Falana, others: Abiola lives on


Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday, paid glowing tributes to the late winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Chief M.K.O Abiola, and other martyrs of democracy who laid down their lives in the struggle to entrench good governance in the country, urging Nigerians to continue to remain united and uphold democratic values.  
The election, which was adjudged as the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria, was annulled by the military junta. 
Speaking at a symposium put together by the State Government in conjunction with June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations to mark the 24th anniversary of the annulled election, Governor Ambode said the day and the events that followed would remain evergreen in Nigeria’s political history, being a process through which Abiola and others laid down their lives in a bid to actualize the popular will of the people expressed through the ballot box.
Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Idiat Oluranti Adebule, said the seed of the 4th Republic currently being enjoyed was sown and watered by the blood of men and women who were cut down in their prime, adding that their memories would be honoured until the end of time.
While acknowledging the fact that the June 12 struggle was waged not only by Abiola and members of his family but also pro-democracy groups particularly National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), students, trade unions and indeed all Nigerians, Governor Ambode said it was a thing of joy that by the collective efforts of government and people, Lagos State, over the years, has kept alive the yearnings and aspirations of the people expressed on June 12, 1993.
He said: “It is an open fact that the 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 wellbeing 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,” he said.
Aside that, Ambode said his administration also embraced Town Hall meeting approach to create avenue for numerous stakeholders and the people to air their opinions and suggest a way forward for the State, while wealth creation and job creation strategies were also adopted with focus on entrepreneurial activities to expose youths and the people to numerous skills to make them either employable or self-employed.
Besides, 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 during election and avoiding any act that could disrupt peaceful conduct of free, fair and credible election.
He added: “We must also remain united and hopeful for a more prosperous future for our nation. This way, we will be keeping the spirit of June 12 alive and strong.”
Guest speaker at the symposium, Dr. Dele Ashiru, from the University of Lagos, who spoke on the theme: “Development Strategy In Lagos: A Blueprint For National Development,” commended the leadership which the Lagos State has produced since 1999 till date.
He said it was incontrovertible that former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu incubated the developmental agenda of the State and advanced by his successor, Babatunde Fashola, while the incumbent Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode is expanding and consolidating the vision of development in a seamless, ingenious and brilliant manner.
On his part, Chairman of the occasion and former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd) said even though a thick cloud is hanging in the horizon on the state of the nation especially with agitations from all parts of the country, he was of the firm believe that the situation could still be salvaged through restructuring which would not be about re-inventing the will but returning to a federation of different peoples.
Also, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State said in Abeokuta, that Abiola paid the supreme price for Democracy in Nigeria.
Amosun spoke shortly after he led a walk from the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto Abeokuta, to the Oke Ido family house of late Abiola.
The walk to celebrate the day is tagged “Democracy Walk: Lets Walk the Hope.”
The governor maintained that the June 12 event transcends Ogun, South West, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
He said: “Late Abiola laboured so much for us, he paid the supreme price for Nigeria’s democracy. The struggle he died for transcends Abeokuta, Ogun, South West and Africa too, and we are happy about that.
“Nigerians trust him and that is why they voted for him. It is a history we must continue to recognise.
“He lives on. We political office holders 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. June 12 will continue.”
He promised that the state government would continue to honour the day, saying the government would take the celebration beyond walk in the nearest future.
Also speaking, Joe Okey-Odumakin said that Abiola paid the ultimate price for Nigeria’s democracy, adding that his votes cut across tribal and religious lines.
The human rights activist declared that until Nigeria is restructured , it would not move forward.
“June 12 votes cut across tribal and religious lines; it helps in promoting national integrity. June 12 was about three choices. It was non-violent, it was a raining day and people went out in a non- violent approach.
“As we are gathered here today, I want us to know that MKO died for us, it is our collective responsibilities to keep the spirit of MKO Abiola alive. MKO Abiola paid the ultimate price, so he lives forever.
The spokesperson of the Afenifere Renewal Group, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said that the memory being celebrated today showed that MKO was still alive.
“The issues raised by June 12 are still very much with us and if we realise this with a restructured Nigeria, it will make Nigeria better for all nationalities and all in the country, ” he said.
Responding on behalf of the family, Alhaji Tajudeen Abiola, praised the state government for supporting the family.
He revealed that when their elder brother, Bashiru was sick, the governor flown him abroad for treatment.
” The government has been supporting us, the governor always help us and all his team too. Whenever they hear you are from Abiola’s family, they always help. We really thank the governor for his support,’’ he said.
Other personalities that participated in the walk were: Amosun’s Deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, Speaker State House of Assembly, Mr Suraj Adekunbi, former governor of Kwara, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among others.
At a special lecture to mark the anniversary which held at Excellence Hotel, Ogba, Ikeja, National Co-ordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, lamented: “It is sad today that those who benefitted most from MKO Abiola’s martyrdom do not want to be reminded of him. And those who used to talk about injustice have, since given the opportunity, inflicted their own injustice on the people.
“Those who used to swear by Abiola’s name have since found new political patrons. Those who proclaimed Abiola as the symbol of democracy and the rallying point for the people’s hopes have since been dancing on his grave.
“Successive federal administrations since 1999 have also failed to redress the injustice of 1993, by doing the minimum of declaring June 12 a national holiday. There have been suggestions along this line, including the possibility of a post-humous national honour or the naming of a major national monument after MKO, or the official admission that the June 12, 1993 election was, indeed, won and lost and wasnot in any way inconclusive”
At the event were former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, Ndubuisi Kanu, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, Professor Sophie Oluwole, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Dr. Chidozie Okoro, Mr. Tony Uranta, Mr. Joseph Evah, Mr. Debo Adeniran and others.
In Akure, human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana (SAN) says June 12 should not be seen as a Yoruba struggle but a national movement that gave birth to the 18 years of uninterrupted democratic in Nigeria.
Falana made this known at a public lecture to mark the 24th anniversary of the June 12 presidential election tagged:  ‘Hope ’93: Dream Deferred’ on Monday in Akure.
The event was organised by the Ondo State Government on the presidential election on June 12, 1993, presumed to be won by the late Moshood Abiola, which was annulled.
He described June 12 as a national movement, saying, “it is wrong for any Nigerian to tag it a Yoruba struggle”.
Falana was quick to advocate 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.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, said that June 12 struggle remained a special day in the nation’s political history.
Akeredolu said that many believed that the June 12 phenomenon transcended the individuality of Moshood Abiola and should not be forgotten.
He announced the renaming of the Democracy Park in Akure as the MKO Abiola Democracy Park, saying that the meeting was not a political gathering.
In Osogbo, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State called for restructuring of Nigeria as the only way to survive running a federalism.
“It is time Nigeria gets restructured in line with the federal system of government being operated in India,’’ Aregbesola said.
He said in India, states were created based on people who spoke  the same language and had same cultural values.
“If Nigeria is pursuing “good unity’’, we need to restructure, just like in India; Nigeria’s democracy is a dictatorship of indebtedness.’’
He said that Nigeria should return to a parliamentary system of government if the country did not want to die of indebtedness.
He said that the federal system of government that operates 36 states could not work in the face of the economic realities, adding that the country’s revenue could not manage the system of government it operated.
He suggested that the number of states in the country be pruned to six based on the geo-political zones and each state should have a president elected to serve a single term of six years.
Civil rights activists also gathered at the Ikeja family home of the late Abiola to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the annulled election.
They gathered for a National Breakfast Prayer and Tribute Session for the late Abiola with some also laying wreaths at his graveside.
The event was one of several organised to commemorate the anniversary of the election, acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, but which was annulled by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Abiola, who had insisted on his mandate, was later arrested and detained after declaring himself president.
He died on July 7, 1998 on the verge of being released during the General Abdulsalami Abubakar regime.
The event at the late politician’s home was organised by June 12 Democracy Movement in Conjunction with Change Agent of Nigeria Network, with the theme “June 12 Movement and the Hope of Equitable Restructuring for Nigeria.”
Speaking with newsmen at the event, Senator Shehu Sani, canvassed for a new master plan that would do justice to all parts of Nigeria, to fulfil what June 12 stands for.
The senator said: “The only way to address the problem of June 12 is to immediately implement fundamental political, social and economic change.
“There is need for a new master plan for Nigeria that will do justice to all the parts of the country, which will also make all people from the different parts to contribute to national enterprise.
“We need a new master plan that will ensure that those who are marginalised or left behind are carried along and given a sense of belonging. That is what we need and that is the message of June 12.”
Sani lauded Abiola for his sacrificial service to humanity and the democracy which many are enjoying today.
“June 12 was the very day when the seed of Nigerian democracy was planted. It was a rallying point for progressive democrats and champions of peace and unity.
“We would always remember this very day to keep alive that memory, that stewardship, that sacrifice made by late MKO Abiola and all others who laid down their lives for freedom and for democracy,” he said.
According to him, June 12 is the genuine democracy day while May 29 may be referred to as the day the military pulled out of the politics.
“Those states that declared June 12 as a public holiday have done what other states should do,” he said.
On the quit notice given to Igbos to vacate the 19 northern states before October 1 by Arewa Youths group, the senator called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently constitute a National Committee for Peace, Unity and Reconciliation.
According to him, the committee, made of eminent Nigerians from diverse fields of human endeavour, should listen to agitations and grudges and give out necessary remedy that will calm nerves in the country.
Sani, Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debt, said: “As far as I am concerned, that Arewa Group does not represent the city where I come from and they don’t represent the views of the people in the North.
“What they did was a reaction to something and that is not the best way to react. You don’t add wrong to wrong.
“What we need to do as a country today is, the forces of unity, peace and stability must rise against the forces of division,’’ he said.
Also speaking at the event, Dr Odia Ofeimun said that some national issues that led to the annulment of June 12 elections were still unsolved, resulting in secession threats.
“We need restructuring, we need constitutionally reconstruction; every local government in Nigeria must have resource control.
“We are going in the wrong direction and running the risk of repeating the errors of yesterday,” he said.
A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji, bemoaned the loss of value system in the nation.
“If MKO had been given the opportunity to serve, perhaps, there would not have been Niger-Delta militancy. If MKO had been allowed to use his mandate, perhaps, there would be no Biafra agitation again.
“If MKO had been allowed to lead, perhaps, the Arewa youths would not have issued a vacation order to Igbos,’’ he said.
Ikuforiji said that such agitation would have been avoided because the late Abiola was not a man who lived for himself.
The convener of the event, Mr Olawale Okunniyi, described the late Abiola as a martyr of democracy and called on the Nigerian government to shift from the present type of democracy to a popular democracy.


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