Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola,, Prof. Wole Soyinka and the late Dr. Fredrick Fasheun would be honoured as the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) celebrates its silver jubilee anniversary on Thursday in Lagos.
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, said in a statement, yesterday that the journey that started 25 years ago was not an easy thing.
He was the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election that culminated in the establishment of OPC.
“The zeal and patriotism of some Yoruba nationalists to liberate Nigeria from the brutal, ferocious and savage hold of military junta led to the thrusting of OPC into national consciousness on August 29, 1994.
“Fasehun, myself and seven others took a critical and patriotic decision that Abiola mandate, annulled by former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, must be actualised and Nigeria must be set free from the clutches of dictatorship.
“Five years after the formation of OPC, democracy took a firm root in the country in 1999; today it is a thing of joy that we have 20 years of uninterrupted, participatory democracy in Nigeria.
“But, this is not without sacrifice, Abiola, whose mandate was annulled in 1993, alongside OPC leaders, fought for the actualisation of the June 12.
“But sadly, the business mogul died in detention in controversial circumstances during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 7, 1998,” Adams said.
The OPC leader said many Nigerians who protested the continued detention of Abiola were shot on the streets by soldiers between 1993 and 1998.
“Some Nigerians such as Pa Alfred Rewane, Mrs Kudirat Abiola, Alhaja Suliat Adedeji, Admiral Tunde Elegbede, James Bagauda Kaltho, Shola Omasola, Oluwatoyin Onagoruwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa were killed.
“Activists and journalists such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Frank Kokori, Kunle Ajibade, Chris Anyanwu, Ben Charles-Obi, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Babafemi Ojudu and others were detained and some jailed.
”Prof. Wole Soyinka, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others were forced to relocate from Nigeria, it was a period of persecution, victimisation and wickedness.
“But today, democracy has come to stay. OPC is 25 years and we have every reason to remember Nigeria’s heroes and those who have been forgotten,” he said.
Adams also expressed regret that despite the death of a number of nationalists and sacrifices of the fallen heroes, not so much had been achieved with democracy.
He, however, said with the determination of the group not to relent and continue pressing for better change, Nigeria, and the Yoruba nation will be liberated.
“Though, democracy is here, we are still faced with several challenges. Part of these challenges is the spate of insecurity in the country, but I am optimistic that Nigeria and the Yorubaland in particular, will get it right one day,” Adams said.
Adams said Prof. Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, and the Electoral Commissioner, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) would deliver a public lecture.