The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has stated that the democracy Nigeria is enjoying today was built on the supreme sacrifice made by Chief Moshood Abiola, stressing that honouring him on June 12 is the least the nation could do to appreciate this worthy national figure.
Speaking yesterday while unveiling the 37-feet tall Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola's statue at the Abiola Garden Memorial at the Ojota interchange in Lagos, Ambode disclosed that work on the statue and that of Chief Gani Fawehinmi actually began in 2016 when the state government could not have known that Abiola would be honoured by the federal government .
He told the large crowd, including the Abila family led by Abiola's wife, Dr. Doyin Abiola and his son, Mr. Abdulmumuni Abiola, who thronged the Abiola Garden venue of the unveiling that although Abiola was from a neighbouring state, he lived all his life in Lagos and that he contributed immensely to the economic and socio-political institution of Lagos.
Earlier, Abdulmumuni had thanked the state government on behalf of the Abiola family for the honouring his father.
He told Ambode that the entire family would have been at Abiola Garden to witness the event but for the conferment of the Grand Commander of Federal Republic (GCFR) award ceremony taking place at the State House, Abuja.
Meanwhile, in a symbolic commemoration of the June 12 general election, pro-democracy groups and some of the actors who participated in the struggle for the de-annulment of the result gathered at various places to mark the date.
Prominent members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), including former military governor of Lagos State and Chairman, All Purpose Committee, NADECO, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd); NADECO spokesperson, Chief Ayo Opadokun; Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe, Col. Tony Nyiam, Mr. Emeka Ugoji, Mr. Tokunbo Ajasin and others converged on the Ignite Africa Library, Oregun Lagos to mark the date.
NADECO, in an address signed by Kanu and Opadokun and delivered at the event, appreciated the declaration by Buhari, but insisted that the government must make some amends in the polity to facilitate national unity.
According to the group, the June 12 annulment "killed" the prospect for national unity.
"Nigeria must start to work now to convince all Nigerians that they are joint stakeholders in project Nigeria," he said.
FG to Consider More People for National Honours, Says SGF
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said President Muhammadu Buhari has granted approval for the conferment of National Honours on more distinguished Nigerians for their role towards the enthronement of democratic governance in the country.
The SGF made the announcement yesterday at the investiture ceremony for the conferment of national honours on heroes of democracy and the commemoration of June 12 as Democracy Day.
Mustapha said the names of the individuals being considered for the honours and their investiture date will be revealed at a later date.
He eulogised several groups, individuals, civil society organisations, organised labour, the political class, members of the press for the pivotal roles and resilience in the struggle for the enthronement of an uninterrupted democratic process in the past 19 years.
Obaseki Hails Sacrifice of Abiola, CSOs, Others, Lauds FG on Declaration
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has hailed the federal government's decision to recognise the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, noting that the gesture restores hope in democratic ideals.
In a statement, the governor said that the declaration is a turning point in Nigeria's history as it recognises the yearnings of Nigerians for democratic society, which the struggle of Abiola and other civil society organisations symbolizes.
According to him, "On behalf of the good people of Edo State, I salute the wisdom and courage of President Muhammadu Buhari, in recognising and declaring June 12 as Nigeria's Democracy Day to honour Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential elections."
Now a Symbol of Democratic Value, Says Osun Speaker
Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Dr. Najeem Salaam, has said that June 12 has turned symbol of democratic value, where the will of majority prevailed over primordial sentiments, noting that all the antics of the revisionists to bury the instrumental value of that day have proved abortive with the recognition accorded it by the federal government.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Goke Butika, Salaam declared that the spirit of June 12 has taught the people how to summount courage by using their votes to punish those who pushed the country to relegation in the comity of nations through high scale corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of collective resources.
He further charged Nigerians to be vigilant, saying men of yester-years who pushed Nigeria to the edge have not rested on their oars, because they feed fat on crisis and instability; urging the people against their ploy designed to promote what divides the people instead of what unites the people.
National Honour on Abiola Vindicates Us in SDP, Says Kawonise
Former Commissioner for Information and governorship aspirant on the platform of Ogun State chapter of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Sina Kawonise, has praised the doggedness and sacrifices of Chief MKO Abiola who was yesterday conferred with the highest honour in the country, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
In a statement signed by acting Director, SK Media Office, Mr. Doyin Owobamirin, Kawonise said it was in recognition of the pro-people stance of Abiola and the genuine progressive contents of the party with which he won the 1993 presidential election that galvanised leaders of SDP to re-register the party as the vehicle to get our people out of the current mis-governance at all levels in Nigeria.
According to Kawonise, "Before the eventual recognition of the iconic MKO Abiola, current leaders of SDP had seen his greatness and the unequaled sacrifices that he made for democracy and for Nigerians. We studied the constitutions and manifestos of different political parties and singled out those of SDP that won the 1993 presidential election for Abiola and chose it as the genuine progressive platform to adopt in galvanising our people for rapid development and all-encompassing democratic order."
Emulate Abiola to End Hunger, Family Urges Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to do all he could within his capacity to end hunger in the land.
Family of late Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential election, and civil society organisations made the call at the Abiola's family house located at Oke-Ido, Gbagura in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, on Tuesday after a democracy walk that started from June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta and terminated at the family house. The democracy walk was led by the Ogun Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga who represented the governor and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa.
In his remarks, Alhaji Muritala Abiola, Head of Abiolas family, expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari's gesture for, at the end of the day, given recognition for their bread winner, as the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
APC Group Harps on Democracy, Insists on Party Supremacy
A political pressure group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, the Rivers Unity House, yesterday held a lecture in Port Harcourt, to mark the June 12 Democracy Day recently declared by President Muhammadu Buhari, and declared that for democracy to survive in the country, party supremacy must be upheld.
Speaking at the lecture tagged, "June 12: Our Pain, Our Gain", Chairman of APC in the state, Hon. Ojukaye Flagg-Amachree, who said the party is passing through a test in the state, expressed the hope that the party would come out stronger from the test.
Flagg-Amachree, who was represented by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Finebone, said: "The APC in Rivers State is presently passing through a test but from my own assessment, the party is emerging stronger from the test we are passing through."
In his lecture titled: 'Unity and Party Supremacy,' former Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Leyii Kwanee, said party supremacy was necessary to maintain discipline among politicians and ensure the success of democracy in the country.
He noted that human beings, being free moral agents, nurse different and conflicting aspirations as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, but added that there was need for the party to control their aspirations.
Honours: Wabara Lauds Buhari
An All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Sir Marc Wabara, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the conferment of national honours on Chief M. K. O. Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1983 presidential election.
Describing the award as "significant in many ways," Wabara noted that the gesture "is an act of statesmanship geared towards national healing and cohesion," adding that "History will be kind to President Buhari for having the courage to redress this long-standing smear on our democratic landscape."
The Abia South senatorial aspirant and former bank chief executive stated that aside from the closure the awards and declaration of June 12 as a national holiday have brought to June 12 activists and Nigerians generally, "The honours will go a long way in cementing our democratic ethos, leading inevitably to national unity, growth and development."
He described the honours as "long overdue," commending former National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Professor Humphrey Nwosu "for his steadfastness, courage and integrity. He is indeed deserving of appropriate honour alongside other June 12 activists."
Wabara stated that President Buhari has by the awards "shown high leadership ideal and the political will worthy of emulation by current and future leaders."
Nigerians Commend FG on Abiola
As Nigeria yesterday commemorated June 12 as the nation's Democracy Day yesterday, most Nigerians agreed that the decision of the federal government to honour Chief MKO Abiola and other heroes of the struggle for democracy in the country is a worthy gesture.
According to the factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Mr. Fouad Oki, "the action today is actually the beginning of the real effort to heal the wound of the struggle. It is the commencement of the process to bury the negative side of the struggle, the frustrations and anger and injustice."
Oki stressed that the wounds of the June 12 struggles would only be healed finally if the federal government can "erect a cenotaph and lay wreaths in honour and memory of all those who lost their lives in the struggle of June 12 1993 before we can truly and fully have peace in the country."
"Their spirit has continued to torment our system and political process; we must therefore collectively honour them. These truly are the unsung heroes and heroines who paid the supreme price for us to have democracy in our Country. Until the government releases the Justice Oputa Panel report and implement its recommendations, we are not likely going to truly forgive one another."
Similar sentiment was shared by another chieftain of the APC in Lagos state, Mr. Dayo Bush who said that although the acknowledgement of the supreme sacrifice of Abiola is coming 25 years after, the action of the federal government is praiseworthy. Bush who prayed that no other person would ever need to make such monumental sacrifice said that the only compensation is that he did not not die in vain.
Also speaking, Chief Samuel Ogbuku said that June 12 will remain a remarkable date in the political history of Nigeria. "It represents patriotism, when Nigerians for the first time trooped to the polls to vote for their choice of candidate devoid of ethnic inclination. Hence, it's termed the most credible election in Nigeria."
Alhaji Kunle Akangbe said that he could not be more proud of being a Nigeria, adding that the action of the federal government served to justify the first stanza of the National Anthem that the struggles of our heros past must not be in vain. He praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his magnanimity on June 12.