A former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, and a former Lagos State governor and All Progressives Congress national leader, Bola Tinubu, have described the June 12, 1993 elections as a part of Nigeria’s history that could not be forgotten.
This is just as the Lagos and Ekiti state governments on Sunday joined Oyo, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states to declare June 12 a public holiday.
In a statement issued by his Media Office in Abuja, on Sunday, Atiku said June 12 and the events that brought it “are part of our country’s history and cannot be forgotten, especially because of the unity and comradeship displayed by Nigerians on that Election Day in 1993.”
Atiku, who described the late Abiola as a businessman, philanthropist and patriot, noted that the events of June 12, 1993 remained a watershed in the history of the nation.
It partly read, “The Waziri commended Nigerians for moving beyond the challenges thrown up by June 12 and putting in place a democratic system of government that has lasted for 18 years.
“He said that it is a testimony to the innate democratic nature of Nigerians that today, democracy is flourishing in the country, adding that the restructuring of the country as being demanded by some well-meaning Nigerians would further consolidate democracy and give greater impetus to the unity and development of the country.
“According to him, restructuring of the country would lay a solid foundation for prosperity and self-reliant development across the country by introducing healthy competition among the constituent parts of the federation based on the principle of comparative advantage.”
The former Vice President described the late MKO Abiola as the leading personality of the June 12 struggle as a national “Hero and Patriot” deserving of accolades and honour by Nigerians.
He called on the Federal Government to pay the necessary tribute to the late chief Abiola of blessed memory by naming a befitting national institution after him.
Tinubu, in statement on Sunday to celebrate the 24th anniversary of June 12, said that without “the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12 election, there would most probably be no 4th Republic today and we would still be groaning under military dictatorship.”
Tinubu described the late Abiola, the winner of the election, as an embodiment of “the eternal Yoruba adage, which says that death is better with honour than life without dignity.”
In the statement titled, ‘What June 12 Taught Us,’ Tinubu said, “The blood of those who gave their yesterday and sacrificed even their lives for the democracy and freedom we enjoy today was not shed in vain. The truth is June 12 is the mother of May 29.
“The annulment was a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the millions of people who expended so much time, energy and material resources to help ensure victory for Chief MKO Abiola. The late MKO selflessly committed so much of his substantial fortune towards ensuring his victory at the polls. In doing this, he was not motivated by personal, selfish or pecuniary considerations.
“Twenty-four years after its annulment, the spirit of June 12 lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians.
“This year’s commemoration of the anniversary of June 12 coincides roughly with two years in office of the All Progressives Congress at the federal level. Some critics are already writing off the government as a failure. However, the vast majority of Nigerians are aware of the immense mess inherited by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
Tinubu added that the APC Federal Government had successfully contained the challenges, and was turning the corner with “light discernible at the end of the tunnel.”
Also, in a statement by the Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, on behalf of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the state government said it had perfected arrangement for the annual public symposium in Ikeja to celebrate June 12.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Ado Ekiti, Fayose – a member of the Peoples Democratic Party – said he took the decision to join his other colleagues in the South-West to celebrate the late Abiola in the spirit of the unity of the region
In a related development, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, said on Sunday that June 12 was the harbinger of peaceful, free and fair electoral process in Nigeria, adding, “It is thus worthy of celebration.”
Also, the Osun State House of Assembly has said the current Nigeria democracy must be protected with all diligence so as not to encourage the incursion of military rule in the country again.
A statement by the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, on Sunday, to commemorate the June 12 struggle, said the change in the Nigeria political landscape was not a coincidence but a consequence of sacrifice made by courageous gladiators who led from the front to entrench democracy in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, a socio-cultural Yoruba group, Afenifere, on Sunday advocated the implementation of the last national conference as a way out of the challenges facing the country.
The group, in a statement its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, pointed out that all southerners were at the risk of attacks by northern youths following the quit order issued to Ndigbo.