Declare Abiola Third Executive President Of Nigeria, Says Fashola * Bankole, Utomi Lament State Of The Nation

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June 13, 2009

Declare Abiola Third Executive President Of Nigeria, Says Fashola

  • Bankole, Utomi Lament State Of The Nation

By Iyabo Lawal, Tayo Oropo, Debo Oladimeji, Laolu Adeyemi, Sulaimon Salau and Abiodun Eneife

AS eminent Nigerians yesterday reviewed the state of the nation 16 years after the annulment of the June 12 election, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has called on the Federal Government to declare the late Chief MKO Abiola the winner of June 12, 1993 election with all the paraphernalia of office of Presidency given members of his family.

Speaking yesterday in Lagos at a public lecture in honour of MKO Abiola, he said there are non-negotiable pillars upon which democracy will stand. “Those are the pillar of truth and the pillar of justice. The search for the truth will embolden us to ask questions about how we got to this point-over the last 49 years and request that those who are the custodians of democracy explain how they managed the conduct of our elections during their time and once we find the truth, we must be courageous to insist that justice be done,” he said.

According to him, one of the truths that have come out was that there was injustice in annulling an election by somebody who was not the custodian of that election.

“He had no business with that election. But the umpire of that election has come out in a book he published on June 12 last year that indeed MKO Abiola won the election. We must then move to do justice and do justice to that mandate. We must acknowledge, even if posthumously, that he was the duly elected president of this country and all the due honour must be given to the family he left behind,” Fashiola declared.

He regretted that rather than address the real problem of instability, “the whole attention of the nation is focused on issue of succession. How are the leaders going to be produced? Has the process been fair? Increasingly, little attention is paid to the quality or the efficiency of that leader. I made the point that from the June 12 riot. The shut down, the fuel scarcity and the darkness that is still with us today, it produced only a military compromise that we did not prepare for, that led us to a still-born contrivance. And in 1999, it produced a constitution that we have no say about. It led us to a leadership whose goal was to ensure that we did not break up but not necessarily to provide the minimum development objective,” he said.

He regretted that the government was not talking about water and power supply.

“We paid lip service to law and justice and attempted to subvert the questionable foundation of his own very existence via a tenure elongation. In 2007 again, what were we doing? We forgot about power and insecurity and about the agitation of the aggrieved members of this federation. The whole nation was faced again with the leadership and succession questions. Anything became better than no change at all. The cycle has been endless and 16 years have passed,” he said.

He expressed regret that in the process, the desert in the Middle East has become the tourist capital of the world. “Angola has come out of a civil war and is becoming one of the fastest-growing countries in Africa and has transformed into an architectural master piece and an emerging technology centre. In that time, the Asian Tiger whose products we degraded has moved on. South Korea has hosted the World Cup and China the Olympic. South Africa, for whose liberation we stood vanguard has gotten the nod ahead of us to host the first ever Africa World cup.

“There had been a lot of missed opportunities. Why has the name of democracy has not come true for our people? Why we persevere, we must insist on certain non-negotiable pillars upon which democracy will stand. Those are the pillars of truth and the pillar of justice,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu called on the National Assembly to legislate on how Abiola’s birthday could become a national public holiday as a mark of respect for the hero of democracy.

According to him, a great leader like Martin Luther King (Jr.) has his birthday celebrated in US for his role in the enthronement of democracy, adding, “I think the best thing for us to do as a nation is to resolve here today that Abiola should be immortalized.”

Tinubu also called on the government to respect and adopt the recommendations of the Honourable Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee without amending it to suit the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) agenda.

He said: “For the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be truly independent, the government should agree with the Uwais’s recommendation that the Chairman of INEC should be appointed by the National Judicial Council.”

He said that June 12, 1993 election was free and fair because of the open ballot system that was employed, calling on the Federal Government to return to the method so that sanity could be restored in the electoral process in the country.

In his presentation, the Guest Speaker, Professor Bayo Williams said successive administrations after the June 12 saga had indirectly annulled the mandate of the people through rigging and series of manipulation.

He said: “1999, 2003, 2007 elections were dented with series of manipulations. This is another way of annulling election and stealing the people’s mandate.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prof Pat Utomi and Governorship candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Senator Abiola Ajimobi said apart from a credible electoral law, both politicians and the electorates must develop positive attitude and conduct towards politics.

They spoke at a seminar to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the June 12 organised by the Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS) in Ibadan.

Bankole in his address at the event gave assurance that the National Assembly would do everything within its power to give the nation electoral laws that would best serve the national interest.

Bankole who was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kayode Odunaro said rather than the sole reliance on electoral laws for credible election, there must be an enviable electoral conduct on the part of Nigerians.

He argued that it was not only secret ballot that produced June 12, but the conduct of Nigerians across all the zones of the country that resulted in that historic mandate.

He said: “The challenge facing our nation today is, therefore, not for the leadership alone, which rightly should carry the greater share but all of us at the end of the day have shared responsibility. I am burdened to ask us as a people that our quest for a credible electoral system would not be brought about by legislation alone, no matter how beautifully crafted our electoral laws are. Our electoral conduct is as vital as the laws, if not more vital. I insist that it was not only open secret ballot that produced June 12. Rather, it was with the conduct of Nigerians across all the zones of Nigeria that resulted in that historic mandate, he noted”.

In his remarks, Utomi expressed regrets that things are still getting worse for Nigeria’s democracy since the election was annulled 16 years ago.

The ADC Presidential candidate noted that June 12 left a historical consequence and that if things are not done right, it will still come around to us all.

“Unless we build an ideal situation, the problem will still be with us. June 12 has taught us to get things right. It cannot be wished away like Obasanjo tried to do. It made our country recognised the value of democracy”.

As a way out of the problem, Utomi said Nigeria is in dire need of politicians who will respect the wishes of the people.

“What we have today is that we have a political class that is contemptuous of Nigerians. The votes of Nigerians no longer count in the current dispensation. As a result of this, Nigeria is not making progress,” he observed.

Ajimobi, on his part said the electorate must be ready to ask questions before casting their vote for any candidate irrespective of party affiliation and must be ready to guard it jealously as the late M.K.O Abiola did.

Meanwhile, Nigerians Under the umbrella of The June 12 Coalition group yesterday assembled at the ICAN centre Lagos to commemorate the demise of the eminent politician and the June 12 election.

Declaring that the June 12 will remain green in annals of history, the group maintained that though Abiola was gone; his footprint remained on the sands of time forever- for he came, saw and conquered. Though not allowed to rule but his sacrifice gave democracy to Nigeria as a dividend.

Declaring the anniversary open, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Ayo Opadokun led the June 12 Coalition group on solidarity song with display of placards.

Some of the placard read, ” 1999 Constitution is a fraud, amendment not an option,” End Corruption and Electoral fraud, Eradicate poverty in our country, June 12 never again; Down internal Colonialism.”

The group disclosed that they are in support of the steps being taken to reject the 1999 Constitution as it makes a false claim in its preamble to have been enacted by Nigerians.

They further maintained that the need for amendment does not arise because the National Assembly itself was a product of the fraudulent 1999 Constitution.

“The Coalition will henceforth mobilize the citizenry to peacefully express their rejection of the imposed 1999 Constitution and to demand its replacement by a negotiated alternative,” the group added.

Reading the declaration made by the group, Opadokun noted that the emergence of Abiola as the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election collapsed the wall of ethnicity and religious bigotry.


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