Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take a step further in his move to deepen the nation’s democracy and healing old wounds by formally declaring late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993, general election, as President.
Aregbesola made this call at the June 12 Democracy Day Celebration on Tuesday in Osogbo.
Recalls the then military dictator, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida had on June 23, 1993, annulled the election globally acclaimed to be the most peaceful freest and accepted poll ever conducted in the history of Nigeria.
The call came on the heels of the conferment and investiture of Abiola as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, the highest honour in the land.
While Abiola’s running mate, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe was conferred with Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON, late legal icon and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi was also conferred with the honours of the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON.
Aregbesola commended and congratulated President Buhari for his large heart and magnanimity for recognising the significance of the event 25 years after, but posited that it was not too late to formally declare him president.
“I salute President Muhammadu Buhari’s thoughtfulness, maturity and courage. I also commend all those who have stood firmly for the truth, dead or alive for not giving up.
“For those who have been injured or maimed. May Almighty God console them all. And for all those who stood by the family, may you be rewarded for your support.
“Yet, we must go further to say Abiola was a President, but who ruled virtually. Let’s have his picture positioned with other past presidents. That will be the last healing,” the governor said.
He noted that the celebration of June 12 was unique globally and nationally.
According to the governor, it is unique globally, because it coincided with the meeting of the US president, Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un in Singapore; which put paid to the nuclear scare; nationally, because for the first time, a government at the federal level considered the day as significant and recognise it, and locally because of the recognition by a non-Yoruba President of what seemed to have been confined to a Yoruba struggle.
“It is a thing of joy that a non-westerner deems it fit to heal the wound of the annulment of June 12. It is a day that must be remembered in the annals of Nigeria as a day that must be held sacred, to ensure that the events that led to the annulment of June 12 are never again, allowed to rear their heads within our political landscape.
“The event of today present four lessons: One, whenever you are on the right course, no matter how tough or painful, don’t give up. Tenacity, resilience and focus pay. Don’t give up. Two, no matter how long, the truth shall prevail over falsehood. To those who believe they can suppress the truth, they might do so temporarily, but will not be right all the time,” he said.
Peaceful coexistence in a peaceful transition
Prof. Olajire Bamisaye of the Political Science Department, Obafemi Awolowo University who spoke on the theme: June 12 Silver Jubilee, Essence of Peaceful Coexistence in the Period of Transitional Democracy tasked all states and local governments to domesticate developments.
According to him, peaceful coexistence cannot be attained when infrastructures are lacking and citizens are hungry.
“Peaceful coexistence has to do with local peaceful coexistence through uniform development, and meaningful structures.
“Provision of welfare should be held paramount and should never be politicised or delayed as displayed by the National Assembly in passing the budget.
“You can’t create peace where people are hungry; democracy survives on people’s support and participation and voters must use the votes wisely,” he said.
In the same vein, Dr Adeola Ogunrin of the Department of Adult Education, University of Ibadan urged governments at all levels and parents to change the orientation of citizens from that of violence to peaceful means of resolving the crisis, as epitomised by the struggle for the actualisation of June 12.
Ogunrin said Nigerians must pursue moderation in claiming their rights, stressing that everyone must be an apostle of peace for peace to pursue them as a nation.
From Adeyinka Aremu, Osogbo