Nineteen years after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, Osun state Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, former Lagos and Kaduna state governors yesterday called on the Federal Government to give a befitting immortalization to the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
The politicians and rights groups who spoke at the Blue Roof, Lagos Television, and venue of the 19th anniversary of the June 12 1993 Presidential Elections marked with a lecture tagged, ‘Challenges and Prospects of True Federalism, Political Legitimacy and National Security’ remarked that the recent immortalisation by President Goodluck Jonathan fell short of national recognition.
The Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said that the statement of Chief Humphrey Nwosu, the election umpire of the June 12 elections admitting that MKO Abiola clearly won the elections and the recent move by President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the University of Lagos after Abiola has justified the continuation of such remembrance.
Musa said that late Abiola deserved more than the renaming of a university calling on the Federal Government to establish a judicial commission of enquiry to find out the circumstances that led to the annulment of the elections and punish those responsible for it.
The Lagos state Governor Fashola, disagreed with other speakers who expressed pessimism on a likely change in the fortunes of Nigeria and said that his belief was on the premise that those who presently hold the nation to ransom were in the minority.
He said, “I like to remind us that we should tell those people who say that we cannot stand together irrespective of our tribe that they are lying. I like to remind those who say that we are so religiously divided that we cannot have a second voice, that on June 12 we stood together, Nigeria resolved to cast their lots behind a team they thought will take them out of poverty, that is what June 12 must mean to us at the time that Abiola decided to claim back his mandate.”
Also speaking, Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, added that his administration would forward a bill to the State House of Assembly to rename June 12 every year as MKO Abiola Day and insisted that Abiola deserved to be honoured by both the federal and state governments.
The Governor said that declaring the day as MKO Abiola day amounted to a nominal gift in honour of a man who offered his money, name and subsequently paid the supreme price for the entire nation to have democracy.
On his part, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said that the country had deviated from democracy and took a swipe on the 6th Assembly for amending the constitution restricting the contest of elections in court to 180 days.
He immediately charged Governor Fashola, and other lawyers to challenge the amendment in court and said that allowing the trend to stay would not only mar future elections in the country but plunge the country’s hard earned democracy into total illusion.
He said: “If anyone says that we have democracy now, maybe in 1999 when we started, I will say yes. But now we do not have democracy, justice and freedom. The danger is here. We have rule of law until few years ago when the National Assembly amended the constitution and took our right away through the back door. We were able to retrieve stolen mandates in Osun, Ekiti and Edo. But immediately they noticed it, they went ahead to amend the constitution to limit the right of Nigerians to fair hearing to 180 days.”
Also former Minister John Nwodo, urged supporters of the late politician to expand the score of the celebrations beyond Lagos, and said that by achievements and acceptance, Abiola’s influence transcended the South West zone of the country.
Widow of the late Gani Fawehinmi, Ganiat, called on government to consider the option of declaring the June 12 anniversary as Abiola Day and lamented a lack of quality service delivery in the country.
Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the current crop of leaders in the South West were enmeshed in problems of ego, and stressed that only true reconciliation would rescue the zone from the attendant problems associated with fractionalisation.