Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has extolled the heroic deeds of late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election for his tenacity in standing for democracy in the country.
Speaking at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the Democracy Day celebration, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the event came out of history for an enduring, perseverance and a committed individual to freedom.
Tinubu added that democracy is the most difficult system of government to manage, noting that for someone like Abiola to sacrifice himself after a monumental victory that cuts across tribe, ethnic, religious groups, called for great celebration.
“And that particular period of history brought about a very clear, transparent, open-democratic system and this is our democracy, this is a freedom in our days. We thank God for that,” Tinubu said.
But the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said in spite of the June 12 designation as democracy day, everyday is democracy in Nigeria.
The United States envoy also spoke during the celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Symington said: “Today is a good day for Nigerians to underscore what they think about their democracy.
“I just say one thing. And that is that in Nigeria, everyday is democracy day.”
Also speaking, daughter of the late Abiola, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, expressed joy over the celebration, saying that she was overwhelmed and over the moon.
Abiola-Costello further said during the June 12 struggle, at a critical moment, Chief Abiola decided that he was leaving all personal matters.
“Even his family was no longer his priority. His priority was his mandate and he felt that anything that stood the way of that mandate was not anything he could accept.
“We were no longer his priority. So, we had already given him to the country. And after he died, for him to have been forgotten, set aside by much of the country, was very painful,” Abiola-Costello said.
On his part, son of Abiola, Jamiu Abiola, expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring his father after many years.
“I want Nigerians to use this unique opportunity to move ahead in the direction that MKO wanted them to move ahead – no more tribalism, no more differences.
“We all have similar problems, let’s solve them together, let’s be our brothers’ keepers from today,” the younger Abiola said.