Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state, pro-democracy groups, activists, many trade unions and interest groups on Wednesday marked the June 12 Democracy Day in Abeokuta, the state capital, in memory of late politician, Chief MKO Abiola, and the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election.
Addressing thousands of trade unionists, pro-democracy groups and associations at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto – Abeokuta, after inspecting a march past organised to commemorate the day, Abiodun declared that the untimely death of Abiola in detention cuts short the “national hope” for an end to poverty and suffering as encapsulated in the “Hope 93 Manifesto.”
The Governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako–Oyedele, added that the commemoration of the June 12 anniversary and the transmutation of the date into the Democracy Day in Nigeria holds a special significance for Ogun State and her people, lauding President Muhammadu Buhari in honour done unto Ogun people with June 12 public holiday.
Abiodun urged Nigerians, particularly politicians and leaders to make the sacrifice of MKO Abiola count by continuing to enthrone good governance for the benefit of the people.
He said: “Since that moment and the subsequent events that attended the annulment of the Presidential election, June 12 has taken a life of its own and the date has continued to reverberate, even 26 years after.
“Today, we are gathered here to commemorate that date. Not only that, the date has taken on an added significance as it now doubles as the Democracy Day in Nigeria.
“The main actor and custodian of the mandate of the good people of Nigeria at the June 12 Presidential polls, late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (affectionately referred to as MKO Abiola), was not only an illustrious son of our dear State but also a successful businessman of international repute.
“It is, therefore, important to note here that the commemoration of the June 12 anniversary and the transmutation of the date into the Democracy Day in Nigeria hold a special significance for us here in Ogun State. For this special recognition of the date as the Democracy Day in Nigeria, I, on behalf of the entire good people of Ogun State, specially thank our dear President Muhammadu Buhari in the rotor’s for this honour done unto us.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, permit me to observe that the foundation for the 20 unbroken years of democracy we now enjoy in Nigeria was laid on June 12, 1993. We, as proud inheritors of that heritage, are most grateful for the labour be rotor’s he rotor’s if rotor’s of a new new new new late Chief MKO Abiola and the eventual sacrifice.
” When democracy berthed on our shores again on May 29th, 1999 after many years of military rule, it was not far-fetched to appreciate the significance of that special day of June 12, 1993. It is, therefore, important that we continue to remind ourselves of the experience before that day and how far we have travelled on our democratic journey into nationhood.
“The untimely death of the nationally acclaimed father of democracy and the symbol of that election, a son of the soil and our own brother, Late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who was incarcerated and imprisoned, cut short our national hope as encapsulated in the Hope ’93 manifesto.
“His death, as we are all aware, forced the military rulers to relinquish power and move back to the barracks. And, that gave birth to our present democracy. Though, as a mortal, we miss our hero and the opportunity he would have had, to refocus, re-orientate and redirect our politics, we are consoled by the fact that we have become direct beneficiaries of the process that he sacrificed his life for.
“For this reason, I charge all our political actors not to lose sight of the significance of June 12, 1993. So much labour and struggles have been invested in order to ensure the attainment and the survival of democracy we now enjoy.
”I urge us all to make the sacrifice of MKO Abiola count as we continue to enthrone good governance for the benefit of our good people. It is my earnest belief that we should, in our conducts and gestures, further give good expression to the wordings of our National Anthem that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain. It is in doing this that we can do justice to the memory and legacy of Chief MKO Abiola.
“On our own part here in Ogun State, we appreciate the trust and the mandate the good people of Ogun State have reposed in us during the last general elections. We are irrevocably committed to ensuring that the good people of Ogun State experience abundant life in all ramifications.
”We are determined to entrench good governance which will further enhance the quality of life of our people. Just as Chief MKO Abiola was neither a sectional leader nor biased in his dealings with everyone he came across, we vow to enthrone transparency in our efforts at taking Ogun State to the height as envisioned by our forebears.
”We pledge to leave no stone unturned in our bid to bring equal socio-economic development to every part of Ogun State. It was an equitable society and enlarging opportunities for individual and societal development that Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola stood and died for. We vow to bring this vision to fruition in Ogun State.
“As we reflect on the selfless sacrifice and contributions of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola to the development of our fatherland, I enjoin us all to rededicate ourselves to the service of the nation and to continue to remain united and patriotic. No greater honour can be bestowed on Late Chief Abiola than this.
“This is when the labour of the highly revered politician, businessman and philanthropist as well as other heroes shall not be in vain. Beyond this celebration, therefore, I enjoin you all to shun all acts that are capable of truncating the journey of our dear State into an era of all-round socio-economic development. This is the only way we can make progress and achieve the Ogun State of our dream.
” I enjoin all of you to continue to pray for the repose of the soul of the gallant father of democracy, our own dear late Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola. May his soul rest in perfect peace, amen.”
Also, activists, veteran journalists, and pro – democracy groups such as Bankole Solomon, Hon. Wale Oshun, Prof. Sylvester Odion–Akhaine, Mrs Funke Fadugba, Niran Malaolu and Abiola’s son; Mumuni Abiola, who also spoke during the ceremony, all were in an agreement that June 12 should be embodiment of genuine efforts to enthrone good governance, banish poverty and restore dignity of Nigerians.