The Ondo State governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has said June 12, 1993 election would forever remain a watershed in the nation’s political experience.
Akeredolu also identified banishment of poverty in the country as the greatest honour the country can bestow on the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola.
Speaking during a special Town Hall Assembly organised by the State Government to mark June 12, Democracy Day at the International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome) , Akure, Akeredolu applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring Abiola with the highest honour in Nigeria, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Hon Agboola Ajayi, recalled that the then military government headed by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida annulled the result of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed by both local and international observers to be the freest and fairest in the country.
According to Akeredolu, the election presented itself as a unifying factor devoid of ethnic, religious or political consideration in the country.
He said the popular dream of Nigerians of electing their leader in a freest and fairest election after a prolonged military government was truncated by the annulment of the June 12 poll.
His words: “We have continued to wallow in its wanton consequences 25 years on. Successive governments have brushed aside calls and agitations for Abiola to be officially recognised as the winner and consequently honoured.
“It is gratifying to state and express our heartfelt gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his well thought-out decision to honour the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola with the highest award in the land alongside some notable stakeholders in the June 12 project.
“I wish to say that the greatest service we can give to late Chief MKO Abiola is to imbibe the values and programme of the late business mogul which was “Goodbye to Poverty.
“It is also instructive that we should abstain from anything that will bring division and disunity to the country. Our diversity should be our strength just like countries like Indian and Indonesia. It should not be our source of disunity.
“We also thank him most sincerely for recognising our own late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, the foremost pro-democracy activist with an award of GCON.”
The governor said his administration, before Buhari named June 12 as Democracy Day, had always believed in the sanctity of the date.
He renamed the Democracy Park at Oba Adesida Road, Akure, as “MKO Abiola Democracy Park” because of its importance in the political history of Nigeria.
He said, “With the courageous step taken by the President of the country, President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, to right the wrong of the past by acknowledging the sacrifice made by the late Chief MKO Abiola, it has become patently clear that the position of Ondo State is justified.
“We equally thank the President for officially naming June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria. No other Democracy Day can be more appropriate than that in the political history of Nigeria. It is a wise thing to do.”
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, a former commissioner for Information in the state, Prince Olu Adegboro described late MKO Abiola as a philanthropist of repute.