This Day (Lagos)

12 June 2009

Nigeria: June 12 - Where are the Heroes?

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Her leadership motivated other pro democracy groups to spring up and pressed for the actualization of the popular presidential election. Particularly, in 1994 during the heat of the struggle, Kudirat was actively involved in sustaining the oil workers strike which succeeded in crippling the nation's socio-economic sector and weakened the military government

Kudirat gave interviews on several occasions to the foreign and Nigerian press in which she called for her husband's release and accused the government of destroying her family financially. On May 8, 1996. the Lagos High Court acquitted her of charges of conspiracy and making false statements. She was charged again with these offences on May 28, 1996 and the Lagos High Court ordered her release on bail . Despite this harassment, she continued her outspoken campaign on behalf of her husband.

But on 4th of June, 1996, few days to the anniversary of the June 12 commemorative date , Kudirat was ambushed and shot dead by assassins.

Late Chief Adekunle Ajasin

Born in Owo on 29 October 1908, Late Chief Adekunle Ajasin , an educationist was one of the leading associates of Late Obafemi Awolowo .

Following the death of Awo, the future appeared bleak. There was no one with the charisma, soar-away persona to drive the system in an increasingly complex Nigeria. The oldest of the surviving was Chief Adekunle Ajasin. And he accepted to lead the struggle

Ajasin singlehandedly wrote the policy on education for which the defunct Western Region became the envy of other regions in the country. He was in fore front of the agitation for the rights of the children to education, human rights and political emancipation.

Ajasin's passion for self government informed his early association with pro democracy groups . Ajasin was again at the forefront when General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the 12 June 1993 presidential election, won by the now deceased business man, Moshood Abiola.

His quest to revalidate the election resulted in the formation of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which he was the pioneer leader . On several occasions, and despite his frail health, Ajasin endured arrest and detention in the battle to force Gen. Sani Abacha to relinquish the reins of power to Abiola..

Ajasin's principled stand on issues was put to test when his health began to falter. In August 1995, he fell ill and the military administration in Ondo State decided to foot his medical bill. This generated an uproar as some interpreted it to mean that he would compromise his campaign to enthrone true democracy. But upon his return from his medical trip abroad, he renewed his quest for the revalidation of Abiola's 12 June mandate.

In June 1995, he was arrested by the military along with 50 others for holding a meeting and asked to go home 24 hours later. But he refused after learning that no other person among those arrested along with him, had regained freedom

A great unionist, Ajasin showed leadership qualities, he played a major role in fashioning the 1951 Macpherson Constitution that paved the way for the decision by the colonial masters to grant Independence to Nigeria.

Alfred Rewane

The late Alfred Rewane was an icon of Nigeria's pro-democracy movement during the dark days of the later dictator General Sani Abacha. He campaigned tirelessly for democracy and human rights, true federalism, honesty, transparency and accountability in public office, and ethics in business. He was also involved in pressing for the actualization of the June 12, 1993 presidential election ..

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