• South West states, others honour Bashorun MKO Abiola
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Moshood Adebayo and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, has provided insight into how agitation for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election failed.
Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election adjudged to be free and fair, which Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola reportedly won.
Anenih laid the blame at the doorsteps of Abiola, who, he said, was largely responsible for the failure of the struggle to reclaim his ‘mandate.’
Anenih, who was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), on which platform Abiola ran for president, said the late politician was the architect of his misfortune.
He detailed this in his book, My life and Nigerian Politics, which was launched earlier in the year.
Anenih said Abiola wilfully invited late General Sani Abacha to oust the Interim National Government (ING), headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, which would paved the way for his eventual take over of the government.
“… The battle for June 12 had been won mainly through the refusal of the SDP to succumb to government’s manoeuvring and insistence on fresh presidential elections…. The SDP saw through the attempt to use the meeting of senior military and police officers as a roundabout way of achieving the military government’s aim of fresh elections and prolongation of military rule. The final decline to attend more meetings with the National Electoral Commission forced the military government to fall back on the setting up of an interim civilian administration which was its earlier suggestion that the two parties accepted. The interim national government carried the seed of June 12 which we, hopefully, expected would germinate at the end of the ING since the military would be eased out of Nigerian politics and the ING would hand over to democratically elected institutions which he had insisted should be preserved under the interim administration of the country.
“It is a sad commentary on the politics of Nigeria that the avowed symbol and representative as well as the personification of the June 12 struggle was the architect involved in the sacking of the interim national government and the seizure of power by General Abacha. The Abacha regime sounded the death knell on June 12 and the last nail on the coffin of June 12.
“It must be categorically stated here that when Chief MKO Abiola decided to wage war against the ING so that he could take over the government almost immediately, Chief Shonekan was removed, he, thus, broke faith, not only with his party and its leadership, but also with the two political parties (SDP and National Republican Convention) which had laboured to set up the ING, through effective resistance to the federal military government of General Babangida.”
Anenih said immediately Abacha took over, Abiola “led his ‘friends’ to pay a courtesy call on General Abacha to congratulate him.
“General Abacha took advantage of this and made sure that for the next two weeks, this courtesy call was aired on NTA Network News to prove that Abiola had accepted his take-over of government,” he added. Reagrdless, in honour of Abiola, six states of the South West (Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun) declared a public holiday yesterday, just as Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, urged the Federal Government to posthumously declare and recognise him as winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The governor said this at the family house of late Abiola, in Oke-Ido area of Abeokuta, the state capital, after a walk organised by the state government, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the annulment of election.
The walk, tagged: “Democracy Walk: Let’s Walk the Hope,” led by the governor, his wife, Olufunso, President, Women Arise, Joe Okei-Odumakin and Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, commenced at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto. They passed through major streets of Abeokuta and concluded at Abiola’s family house.
In his remarks, Odumakin, spokesman of Afenifere Renewal Group, said: “The memory we are celebrating shows that MKO is alive, the spirit is alive, June 12 is alive, issues raised by June 12 are still very much with us and if we realise this with a restructured Nigeria, it will make Nigeria better for all nationalities and all in the country.”
Former governor of Kwara State, Cornelius Adebayo, who disclosed he worked closely with the late Abiola, said the memory of June 12 cannot be erased.
Speaking on behalf of the Abiola family, Alhaji Tajudeen Abiola, commended the state government for supporting the family and keeping the spirit of June 12 alive.
Also, rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said June 12 should not be seen as a Yoruba struggle but a national movement which gave birth to the 18 years of uninterrupted democratic in Nigeria.
Falana made this known, yesterday, at a public lecture, ‘Hope ’93: Dream Deferred,’ in Akure, Ondo State. The lecture was organised by the state government.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria described June 12 as a national movement, and added that “it is wrong for any Nigerian to tag it a Yoruba struggle.” Falana was, however, quick to advocate proper restructuring of Nigeria, which he described as not negotiable.
On his part, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said June 12 struggle remains a special day in the country’s political history.
Akeredolu said many believed that the June 12 phenomenon transcended the individuality of Abiola and should not be forgotten. He announced the renaming of Democracy Park in Akure as the MKO Abiola Democracy Park, and said the meeting was not a political gathering.
Former Lagos State military administrator, Rear Admiral Ndubusi Kanu (retd), said Nigeria would have attained greatness if the June12 presidential election was not annulled.
Ndubusi spoke in Ikeja, Lagos, on the commemoration of the election, which was organised by the Lagos State Government (Office of Civic Engagement).
“For those who do not know or who pretend not to know, it is in the interest of every section of the country if Nigeria works. Let us take two examples. Zamfara is within the geographic area called Nigeria. It is in the interest of Zamfara as well as Sokoto, Niger and others, if things work well in Zamfara. Coming back to my backyard, it is in the interest of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo that things work well in Maiduguri.
“This is because, any over-arching problems would, ipso facto, spread out to affect Tivland, Igboland, Ibibioland and Ijawland.”