13 June 2002

Nigeria: Governor Kalu Asks Government to Honour Abiola, Wife As Tinubu Declares Bid for Second Term

ON the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections, yesterday, Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia State asked the Federal Government to confer post-humus national honours on the winner of that election the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola his late wife, Kudirat and others who made democracy possible.

It was also the day Gov. Bola Tinubu declared his intention to seek re-election while the Alliance for Democracy (AD) asked Nigerians to re-dedicate themselves to the struggle for the enthronement of an equitable society with a view to remembering Abiola.

On his part, Afenifere leader, Chief Abraham Adesanya called for the dissolution of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the interest of true democracy, even as Miss Hafsat Abiola, daughter of the June 12 elections winner, said Nigeria was yet to have true democracy.

In a lecture in Lagos to mark the annulled election, Gov. Kalu said the present political dispensation would not have been possible but for the events of June 12, 1993.

Said he: "Let me quickly state at this point that the military hand-over to civilians in 1999 was quickened by the incidents that trailed the June 12 annulment, particularly the death of Abacha and Abiola in quick succession. It was only a fool that would continue in office after these frightening incidents."

But he exonerated former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida of blame in the annulment of the election because according to him, Babangida was favourably disposed to the emergence of the late Chief Moshood Abiola as President but was strongly opposed by several key officers in the military including the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, who was Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) at the time.

Kalu said even up till now no reasonable explanation had been offered for the annulment of that election. He expressed dismay that Abiola and his wife, Kudirat had to sacrifice their lives in the struggle for the actualisation of the elections' result.

The Abia governor therefore asked the Federal Government to confer national honours on Nigerians who sacrificed their lives, comfort, property, businesses and family to ensure that democracy took root in Nigeria.

Kalu and his Bayelsa counterpart, Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha disagreed on the occasion over President Olusegun Obasanjo's bid to contest next year's presidential elections.

Kalu said it was the turn of the Igbo to produce Nigeria's next President in 2003 and accused Obasanjo of not compensating the Igbo for voting massively for him in the 1999 presidential elections.

Said he: "I opposed Obasanjo because he has not treated the Igbo fairly."

But in his own remarks at the event, Alamieyeseigha said he didn't see any reason why Obasanjo should not contest the 2003 elections. He described Obasanjo as a man who possess some rare qualities, adding that since he (Obasanjo) declared his intention to contest in 2003, no other aspirant has done so.

Continuing he said: "The Ijaw nation is not talking of producing a president now but controlling our resources."

The Bayelsa governor said he did not believe in castigating Obasanjo because he reserved the democratic right to contest next year's elections after serving for only one term. In his own remarks at the occasion, leader of Afenifere, Senator Abraham Adesanya lamented that those who fought for the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria are not at the helm of affairs. However, he urged Nigerians to be patient as they would soon reap the dividends of democracy. Many organisations and prominent individuals attended the occasion. Among these were former Minister for External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd.), Dr. Idika Kalu and Chief Frank Kokori.

lTinubu declares for second term

Gov. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State, yesterday declared his intention to contest 2003 gubernatorial elections in the state. The governor, who made the declaration before teeming supporters of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) at the rally organised at the Onikan Stadium to commemorate the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections, said the decision to re-contest was informed by the need to consolidate on achievements so far made by his administration. He noted that the administration of the state needed "tried, tested and trusted" hands to steer its affairs, adding that no room should be given those he considered as "interlopers or fair-weather democrats or dubious democrats" to rule the state.

Tinubu, who observed that his government had in the last three years surmounted the challenge offered by the governance of Lagos State, stated: "As we move into the next stage of the struggle to consolidate the democratic agenda in Nigeria, tried, tested and trusted hands are required to steer the sheep of Lagos State along the path of the progressive vision."

He expressed the determination of his administration to offer Lagosians a new deal in virtually all sectors of the state's economy, especially in the area of infrastructural development.

Tinubu stated that he needed more time to deliver the 4th Mainland Bridge, designed to run from Ikorodu to Lekki, construction of some 14 major roads already on government's trump card, if given another term.

lAD tasks Nigeria

The Alliance for Democracy (AD) has called on Nigerians to re-dedicate themselves to the struggle for the enthronement of an equitable society, saying that this was one way of remembering the custodian of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections, the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja to commemorate the June 12 elections, the party called on the Obasanjo administration to vigorously pursue a policy of economic reforms, social restructuring and purposeful development that will "benefit the vast majority, instead of a tiny parasitic minority."

The party's National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Ahmed Abdulkadir said: "It is sad that after three years of democracy, we cannot derive the dividends of peace and tranquillity, growth and progress.

"What makes this more of a dilemma is the established fact that the current government in Nigeria despite the high expectations raised by the final enthronement of democracy after June 12, seems to lack the capacity to harvest the fruits, manage and spread the dividends of democracy to Nigerians. Hence the greatest threat to the nascent democracy remains the obvious incompetence of the ruling PDP government. Nigerians have started the gradual slide towards despondency, frustration and discontent. The predicament of Nigeria as a country therefore is that without establishing a conducive climate in which democratic values can take root, there cannot be a one united Nigerian nation.

"The Alliance for Democracy wishes to appeal on the good conscience of Nigerians not to forget the lessons of June 12 so soon. At this trying period, we should utilise the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the struggle for the enthronement of an equitable society in which every Nigerian shall live in peace and plenty out of the abundance with which God has endowed this great nation. Why must few Nigerians live in sheer opulence while the vast majority barely manages to stay alive?

"We equally call on all Nigerians to reject any form of repressive government where the lives of even the mighty are not safe. The great Alliance for Democracy enjoin all Nigerians to utilise the up-coming local government elections to change the pendulum of corruption, high handedness and wanton disregard to laid down procedures. This is the time for a change. A change similar to the one expressed nine years ago on June 12, 1993."

lNo democracy yet - Hafsat

Daughter of the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12 presidential elections, late Basorun M. K. O. Abiola, Hafsat Abiola yesterday declared that Nigeria was yet to have democracy three years into civilian administration.

But, in the same breath she applauded the performances of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the last three years. Speaking in Akure to mark the June 12 elections, Hafsat Abiola stated that "what we have in Nigeria today is not democracy but civil rule because all the ingredients of democracy are still lacking in the last three years. According to her, "I think we still have a lot of work to do when we talk about our democratic experience in the last three years, it is not every state that the government is using the resources available to help the people there are still in poverty.

"Some of our leaders are still stealing the money that belongs to the people so we still have much work to do. 2003 is a key opportunity where we can reflect on the progress we have made since 1999 to bring in more progress." On her assessment of President Obasanjo, Hafsat told newsmen that "I am sure that he is trying his best in all sections, but there are, however, still a lot of work to be done."

lRally in Abeokuta

Memories of late Basorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola were yesterday brought alive in Abeokuta at a rally in commemoration of the June 12, 1993 elections, won by the late business magnate.

The rally attended by the younger brother of Bashorun Abiola, Alhaji Mubasiru Abiola and one of his sons, Mr. Jamiu Abiola also witnessed the signing of the bill creating 32 new local governments by Gov. Olusegun Osoba.

At the June 12 Cultural Centre, venue of the rally was a large crowd comprising government functionaries, politician, pro-democracy groups, students and ardent loyalists of the late Bashorun Abiola.

Addressing the rally after the signing of the local government creation bill, Chief Osoba said that there cannot be another Abiola because of what he achieved and symbolised to the country.

"He is the only one that Nigerians throughout the country voted for. He broke religious barrier with a Muslim/Muslim ticket. He did not lose in any state of the federation. There cannot be another Abiola.

"Nigerian democracy will survive and the name of Abiola will never be forgotten," he declared.

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