Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, has opened up on how and why the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) was formed by nine persons 25 years ago.
He disclosed this ahead of the silver jubilee of the group that will be commemorated on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at the Grandeur Event Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.
The anniversary will feature, among other things, a public lecture that will be delivered by a professor of Political Economy and International Relation, Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science, University Of Lagos, and the Electoral Commissioner, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC)
Special awards will also be presented to 21 eminent Nigerians, both living and dead,and a dinner party for all the guests.
Adams, in a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the group, Yinka Oguntimehin, stated that the annulment of June 12,1993 presidential election that culminated in the struggle to liberate the Yoruba nation, brought about the establishment OPC on August 29, 1994.
His words: “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 Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) into national consciousness on August 29, 1994.
“The late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, myself and seven others took a critical and patriotic decision that the mandate of the late Aare Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola, annulled by former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, must be actualised and Nigeria must be set free from the clutches of dictatorship.
“These and many other injustices from the then Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha, led to the formation of the Congress. Five years after the formation, 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.
The late Abiola, whose mandate was annulled on June 23, 1993, alongside OPC leaders, fought for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 democratic wishes of Nigerians.
“But sadly, the business mogul died in detention in controversial circumstances during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 7, 1998. Many Nigerians that 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 and others 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 in high places.
“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.”