Exactly 18 years after the demise of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, pro-democratic leaders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immortalise the departed martyr of Nigeria’s democracy.
A leader of the National Democratic Coalition, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (retd.), called on the Federal Government to immortalise Abiola for his role in Nigeria’s democracy.
Kanu spoke in Lagos on Thursday during a programme organised by NADECO and other pro-democracy groups to commemorate the anniversary of Abiola’s death.
It will be recalled that Abiola died on July 7, 1998, after years in military detention.
Kanu spoke during a remembrance programme organised by two groups, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy and Women Arise, at Abiola’s graveside located in his Lagos residence.
He stressed that Abiola deserved to be immortalised for sacrificing to achieve democracy for the country.
The NADECO leader said, “For a country which wanted to become a nation state, unity is not geography. It starts from a sense of belonging of the different people there. And it was the sense of belonging that brought the unity that produced the late Chief MKO Abiola because people voted for him from all parts of Nigeria.
“Today, we have a situation where people have little sense of belonging. Our unity in Nigeria is not to do MKO any any favour but if we want a nation-state Nigeria, we must go back and ensure justice. If we don’t, there is no running away from it. All those who worked against justice in any form must know that if our country does not become a nation state, they caused it,” he said.
The NADECO leader urged Nigerians to be united in the way they were united for Abiola during the June 12, 1993 election.
Abiola’s son, Jamiu, called on President Buhari to ensure that the perpetrators of the annulment of the June 12 election were punished for the offence.
Speaking during the programme, the President of Women Arise and Centre for Change, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, asked the Federal Government to set up a judicial commission of inquiry in order to unravel the circumstances surrounding MKO Abiola’s death.
She said one of the ways to immortalise the June 12 hero was to rename a key national institution or infrastructure in the deceased’s name.
Okei-Odumakin said the late Abiola was an example of uncommon courage and dignity, recalling that the late icon challenged military dictatorship when he was alive.
She said, “Eighteen years after his elimination in circumstances that are yet to be resolved, President Abiola still stands taller than all his adversaries and his murderers. He represents what Nigeria is capable of being but which we are not because of the machinations of a greedy cabal.
“We also insist on the posthumous recognition of Chief MKO Abiola as President of Nigeria and his portrait to be displayed among past Nigerian Presidents and Heads of State.”
Abiola’s daughter, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, in an article published on Sahara Reporters on Thursday, also relived the memories and qualities of her father.
She said Abiola’s religion was love and called on Nigerians to emulate him.
She said, “As I reflect on his incredible life, I can’t help but see how it continues to offer important lessons on how to approach life. We cannot ignore the desperate needs around us. To do so only creates the ground that breeds violent extremism. Instead, we must make ourselves available to the vulnerable. We must look beyond personalities and identities, which may be affected by prejudice, and identify the fundamental causes of the challenges that we confront.
“Prejudice towards individuals and groups can be countered by pragmatism as we work together to solve these challenges. Ultimately, it is by our actions to solve our common problems, not by the fact of our positions, that we determine our legacy.”