BY GEORGE OKOJIE, Lagos
Twenty four years after the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo, Olawale Abiola democrats will today converged in different parts of the country, especially Southwestern part to mark the anniversary of the annulment.
Over the years, the consciousness of Nigerians about the importance of June 12 in the political life of our country and democracy has repeatedly been demonstrated by the yearly commemoration of the anniversary of the election nationwide by the mass of the people through seminars, workshops, symposiums, lectures, rallies, walk, media engagements, among others to deepen the tenets of democracy in the country.
Observers say the credibility of the election reverberates till today to the extent that it is still regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s political history, thereby making it difficult to erase the memory of June 12 election from many Nigerians, especially democrats and activists.
LEADERSHIP gathered that states in the south west have declared Monday a public holiday to honour the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola.
Apart from the public holidays the states, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo, have also lined activities to mark the anniversary.
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu while declaring the public holiday said the late Abiola’s supreme sacrifice culminated in the hurried departure of the military from the political scene in 1999.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ajiboye, Governor Akeredolu said the government is organising a lecture, as part of programmes lined up for the day, with the theme: “June 12: A celebration of courage and resilience.”
He said the event will hold at the International Events and Culture Centre (The Dome) in Akure, saying “Eminent Nigerians, including notable activists are lined up to grace the event. Hon. Wale Oshun is chairman of the occassion, while human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, will be the guest speaker.
“Akeredolu asked politicians across the country to always demonstrate their unquenchable love for the country.”
In the same vein the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, in a statement on Sunday in Ado Ekiti, said he took the decision to join his other colleagues in the South West in the spirit of the unity of the region because,“Yoruba nation’s interest is beyond personal interest of anyone. For us to forge ahead as a people, we must speak with one voice.
“In the light of this, I declare Monday a public holiday to further strengthen our collective belief, hope and aspirations. This, I have done in the spirit of Yoruba nation and South West integration.”
For Ogun State Government who declared the public holiday through the Secretary to State Government, Adeoluwa Taiwo, it was in line with the practice in the past years to identify with and keep the ideals of June 12.
“Consistent with the practice of the past six years, and, as a way of identifying with and keeping the ideals of June 12 alive, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has declared Monday, June 12, 2017 as work free,” he said.
Taiwo said the annual holiday was in honour of the late illustrious son of the state, Moshood Abiola, widely believed to have won the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, which marked a unique watershed in Nigeria’s democratic development.
He further said that this year’s celebration would feature the annual “Democracy Walk”, which would be led by the governor, starting from the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta at 7 a.m.
Although Lagos State Government has not declared public holiday as of the time of filling this report , the Lagos State Office of Civic Engagement said it will hold a lecture today in commemoration of the annulment today in the state .
According to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said the annulled poll remained the mother of democracy not only in Nigeria but also in the African continent.
The Lagos Assembly Speaker described the election as a positive reference point for free, fair and peaceful election in Nigeria.
He noted that although it was described as the freest, fairest and most peaceful presidential election in Nigeria and Africa, it was annulled.
“It was the freest, fairest and most peaceful election in the history of democracy not only in Nigeria but also in Africa. It’s the harbinger of peaceful, free and fair electoral process in Nigeria. It is thus worthy of celebration, ” Obasa said.
The Lagos Assembly Speaker urged Nigerians to imbibe the lessons provided by the symbolism of the June 12, 1993 election.
“The election taught all Africans that the will of the people will always prevail no matter the odds. Majority of Nigerians irrespective of status, religion or ethnic background voted overwhelmingly, albeit in peaceful nature, for the late MKO Abiola. Thus, the June 12 election remains a positive reference for free fair and peaceful election in Africa,” the Lagos Assembly Speaker said.
He urged Nigerians to continue to pray for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the struggle for the actualization of the historic mandate particularly the mandate bearer, Late Abiola and his wife, Kudirat.
“These are the martys of democracy who laid down their lives for us all to enjoy the present democracy,” he said.
For the Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice(CHRSJ),Comrade Adeniyi,Alimi Sulaiman the President Muhammadu Buhari led-Federal Government must recognize the late winner of the election as former President of the country, maintaining that Late Abiola, his wife,Kudirat and other martyr laid down their lives for the enthronement of current democratic experiment in the land.
He also maintained that non-recognition of Chief Abiola since the enthronement of present democratic experience in May 29,1999, has been hurting the present political system, insisting that the only solution to the many political challenges currently facing the nation was to first give Chief Abiola the rightful place in the country political history and development.
Sulaiman added that national monuments University of Abuja and Eagle Square should be named after the late winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election.