Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu praised President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring the hero of June 12, the late MKO Abiola and making the day a national public holiday.
Sanwo-Olu who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat spoke at two different events to commemorate June 12 in Lagos yesterday.
The two events were the annual June 12 celebration by pro-democracy groups at the Abiola’s residence in Ikeja and the maiden National Democracy celebration 2019 organised by the state government which held at the Blue Roof, LTV compound at Ikeja.
Thanking Buhari for having the courage to do the right thing and correcting an error of the nation’s historic record, Sanwo-Olu said June 12 demonstrated that free and fair elections are possible in Nigeria and that people’s hope can only be suppressed for a while.
“The shining moment we are experiencing today peers back into our recent past and calls forth memories of that fateful day, it reminds us that free and fair elections are possible, that new beginnings are possible and that hope, the people’s hope can only be dashed and buried for a moment.
“It teaches us that hope, the pursuit of justice and love of the people does not die no matter how sound they may seem to have been defeated by hard and cruel people”.
The governor gave kudos to those who were at the vanguard of the June 12 struggle, like former governors of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Ndubuisi Kanu, Amos Akingba, Dele Alake and a host of others adding that Lagos has since remained a trail blazer in the struggle for the enthronement of true democracy and progressive governance.
He said they sacrificed their time, resources and their lives so that the essence of June 12 might be acknowledged and history put in proper perspective
“Indeed we are all beneficiaries of that single event in history that birthed a taste for democracy and today has guaranteed a voice for the people, a vote for every citizen and had established a government that people want and deserve.
He said June 12 began a journey for this nation that is still on because the nation has not gotten to destination yet but someday will surely arrive there.
To get there quickly Sanwo-Olu said the nation must do things differently like sacrificing some deeply held assumptions and traditions and think differently.
He said what M.K.O stood for must never be forgotten which are unity, love, togetherness, oneness and a greater future where all Nigerians are equal and where heroes can come from any part of the country, “that some people are not more important than others that all Nigerians are equal and only on this understanding can we move forward and thrive as a nation”.
According to the governor, democracy holds only to the extent that we cherish and nurture it, “as citizens we must hold elected officers responsible on how they manage our resources”.
Promising that his government will be a listening one, he said; “we will listen to the hope and aspirations of our people and will meet up with those aspirations”.
“We will, however, in the best tradition of democratic governance, carry along the people in the process and implementation of policies and programmes in the interest of all residents, stakeholders and investors towards achieving our dream of “Greater Lagos”.
Speaking on the theme of the celebration, ‘Democracy and Restoration of true federalism in Nigeria’, Professor Lola Ogundowole, a retired Professor of Philosophy from University of Lagos said the fact that Nigeria was only able to realise the importance of June 12 quarter of a century after reflects the contradictory nature of Nigeria, adding that Abiola was the first elected president but he never stepped into Aso Rock.
Nigeria, the professor said has never had true federalism, he said what the country needs is a conference of all sovereign ethnic groups in Nigeria to sit down discuss and decide the fate of Nigeria and consider the future of the sovereign nations individually and the country as a whole.
In his opening remarks earlier, chairman of the event, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (Rtd) congratulated the past heroes of democracy in the country for their struggle for democracy to be put in place in Nigeria, saying a lot of blood of Nigerian youths had been shed to get to where the country is today.
While expressing sadness that a true and free poll was cancelled in the country in 1993, the NADECO chieftain, however, expressed joy it was Buhari that brought back hope to the people of the country, even as he condemned the selfishness of some Nigerian leaders.
He said Buhari had honored Nigerians by honoring late Abiola, the symbol of June 12 poll.
While another hero of June 12, Ndubuisi Kanu in his goodwill message said, “We have no choice than to unite together and live in peace if we don’t want to continue to suffer in the country. We have no choice than to live in unity and oneness and in love with one another for the sake of our future generation, these were the virtues that June 12 brought about.
Former Head of Service in Lagos, Sunny Ajose recalled that in spite of Nigeria’s diversity, Nigerians came out and voted for Abiola, the winner of June 12 elections.
While also commending President Buhari for honouring Abiola posthumously, Ajose called on the National Assembly to ensure that power was devolved to the states and local governments from the center.
According to him, this will ensure that the country’s economy, education, among others was boosted for the good of generality of Nigerians.
On his part, Mr. Dele Alake said he was directly involved in the history of June 12, recalling that the late MKO called him to his home town the night of January 3, 1993 to tell him to make a publication that he was seeking the office of president to serve the county.
Alake, who was then editor of the defunct Concord newspapers established by the late business mogul, said: He (Abiola) made me to make a publication announcing his choice to serve the country. The story which then got published was titled: ‘Why I want to serve.”
He insisted that the late MKO Abiola was motivated to serve the country, saying everything about him was purely service to the people and his fatherland, adding that even his programmes titled: ‘Farewell to Poverty’ was just about same thing.
Speaking at Abiola’s residence, Deputy President of Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Isa Aremu praised President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the reality of Nigeria and declaring June 12 as a National public holiday. He also commended Governors of Western States in Nigeria for starting this , especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for starting June 12 as a public holiday.
‘Never again should a person rule us without having our mandate. We need a leadership that is angry against underdevelopment that is what National Assembly stood for.’
Daughter of the late M.K.O, Lola Abiola Edewor who was present at the event tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle insecurity in the country. [THE NATION]