Civil rights activists among others on Monday gathered at the Ikeja family home of the late multibillionaire businessman cum politician, MKO Abiola, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the annulled June 12, 1993 election.
They gathered for a National Breakfast Prayer and Tribute Session for the Late Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled presidential election, with some also laying wreaths at his graveside.
The event was one of several organised to commemorate the anniversary of the election, acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, but which was annulled by the military regime of the then Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.
Mr. Abiola, who had insisted on his mandate, was later arrested and detained after declaring himself president.
He died on July 7, 1998 on the verge of being released.
The event at the late politician’s home was organised by June 12 Democracy Movement in Conjunction with Change Agent of Nigeria Network, with the theme “June 12 Movement and the Hope of Equitable Restructuring for Nigeria.”
Speaking with newsmen at the event, Shehu Sani, a senator, canvassed a new master plan that would do justice to all parts of Nigeria, to fulfil what June 12 stands for.
The senator said: “The only way to address the problem of June 12 is to immediately implement fundamental political social and economic change.
“There is need for a new master plan for Nigeria that will do justice to all the parts of the country, which will also make all people from the different parts to contribute to national enterprise.
“We need a new master plan that will ensure that those who are marginalised or left behind are carried along and given a sense of belonging. That is what we need and that is the message of June 12.”
Mr. Sani lauded Mr. Abiola for his sacrificial service to humanity and the democracy which many are enjoying today.
“June 12 was the very day when the seed of Nigerian democracy was planted. It was a rallying point for progressive democrats and champions of peace and unity.
“We would always remember this very day to keep alive that memory, that stewardship, that sacrifice made by late MKO Abiola and all others who laid down their lives for freedom and for democracy,” he said.
According to him, June 12 is the genuine democracy day while May 29 may be referred to as the day the military pulled out of politics.
“Those states that declared June 12 as public holiday have done what other states should do,” he said.
On the quit notice given to Igbos to vacate the 19 northern states before Oct. 1 by Arewa Youths group, the senator called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently constitute a National Committee for Peace, Unity and Reconciliation.
According to him, the committee, made of eminent Nigerians from diverse fields of human endeavour, should listen to agitations and grudges and give out necessary remedy that will calm nerves in the country.
Mr. Sani, Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debt, said: “As far as I am concerned, that Arewa Group does not represent the city where I come from and they don’t represent the views of the people in the North.
“What they did was a reaction to something and that is not the best way to react. You don’t add wrong to wrong.
“What we need to do as a country today is, the forces of unity, peace and stability must rise against the forces of division,’’ he said.
Also speaking at the event, renowned poet, Odia Ofeimun, said some national issues that led to the annulment of June 12 elections were still unsolved, resulting in secession threats.
“We need restructuring, we need constitutionally reconstruction; every local government in Nigeria must have resource control.
“We are going in the wrong direction and running the risk of repeating the errors of yesterday,” he said.
A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, bemoaned the loss of value system in the nation.
“If MKO had been given the opportunity to serve, perhaps, there would not have been Niger-Delta militancy. If MKO had been allowed to use his mandate, perhaps, there would be no Biafra agitation again.
“If MKO had been allowed to lead, perhaps, the Arewa youths would not have issued a vacation order to Igbos,’’ he said.
Mr. Ikuforiji said that such agitation would have been avoided because the late Abiola was not a man who lived for himself.
The convener of the event, Mr Olawale Okunniyi, described the late Abiola as a martyr of democracy and called on the Nigerian government to shift from the present type of democracy to a popular democracy. (NAN)