- Category: Personality
- Published on Monday, 09 July 2012 10:01
- Written by Admin
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Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday renewed call for an official recognition of the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola as one of Nigeria’s democratically elected presidents.
His view was shared by the Convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, among others who re-emphasized the need for the posthumous honour for Abiola, whose victory in the June 12, 1993 presidential election was annulled by the regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, which midwifed the aborted transition to civil rule programme.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos at the 14th year remembrance of Abiola, who died in state custody while struggling to actualise his mandate, Soyinka called on President Goodluck Jonathan to honour Abiola for his selfless service and sacrifice toward enthronement of the current democratic government in the country.
Soyinka’s address was read by the President of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin.
The Nobel Laureate said: “Those who continue to deny Moshood Abiola his formal place in Nigerian history merely place themselves in the ranks of such compulsive deniers.
Nothing can restore Nigeria’s murdered President to live, but the consequences of the original denial remain with us till today. Trust is gone. Political treachery is paraded as political morality.”
On the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day on May 29, President Jonathan renamed the University of Lagos (UNILAG) after the democracy martyr, an action that drew protest from students and the alumni of the institution. A court has already put the renaming on hold, following a suit by the alumni.
Soyinka had on the heels of the students’ protest restated his opposition to the renaming of academic institutions after political figures, including the then University of Ife (UNIFE), which is now Obafemi Awolowo University (Ile Ife).
Yesterday, the Nobel laureate said: “There shall always be a call, however, to restore truth. It goes beyond dubious re-naming ceremonies which generate needless and distracting controversies. MKO Abiola was the nation’s elected President. Let that fact be enshrined in the nation’s records, then we would have embarked on one of the tributaries to the amplitude of the true national reconciliation. Chained, immobilized, isolated and beset by uncertainties.”
He said further: “Moshood Abiola proved himself the personification of rare political courage this nation owes him. All who have held, and hold office today since his death are permanently indebted to him and to his terminal sacrifice, it is a moral demand that the incumbent President exercise a fraction of his exemplary courage, and re-establish Abiola, albeit posthumously, as Nigeria’s democratically elected President,”.
Bakare said that whether the Federal Government honour Abiola or not, Nigerians would continue to remember and honour the martyr.
The Christian cleric-turned-politician noted that former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to honour Abiola, a kinsman during his eight years in office. Bakare added that the onus lies on every well meaning Nigerian to ensure that MKO’s is immortalized in all ramification.
He said: “Obasanjo’s refusal to honour MKO Abiola has shown him as real enemy of the winner of 1993 Presidential election and it is the responsibility of every Nigerian to ensure that what Abiola stood for while he was alive is not allowed to be compromised by anybody regardless of their calibre in the society. Abiola stood for justice, uprightness and equality, therefore, all these virtues should not be allowed to be watered down by anybody”.
On her own part, Okei-Odumakin said that 14 years after his elimination, “President’ Abiola still stands taller than all his adversaries and his murderers,” adding that the deceased politician represents what Nigeria is capable of being “but which we are not because of the machinations of a greedy cabal.”
She said further: “The Campaign for Democracy enjoins Nigerians to continue to insist on the gazette of June 12 election results as belated declared by Humphrey Nwosu. We insist on the posthumous recognition of Abiola as President of Nigeria and his portraits to be displayed among past Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads of State.
“President Jonathan must give effect to the resolution of the past Senate that Abuja National Stadium be named after Abiola. A resolution the former President Olusegun Obasanko refused to implement. We insist on a judicial commission of inquiry to unravel the mysterious death of MKO Abiola and how the high treason was carried out in custody. We also insist on declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day.”
The National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, said that everybody should regard Abiola’s death as a great sacrifice for Nigeria. He also called on the citizens to attach more publicity to MKO Abiola’s remembrance on July 7 every year the way they celebrate the June 12 anniversary.
In her remarks, Abiola’s daughter, Kudirat Abiola-Costello, said that the love shown to Abiola after his death had been a source of courage to the family and associates of late business mogul and philanthropist of repute that he did not died in vain.