The national leader of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said that the most honourable thing for the Federal Government to do for M.K.O. Abiola is to post-humously acknowledge the late Chief as Nigeria’s second duly elected president.
He said this in a statement to mark the 19th anniversary of the presidential election won on June 12, 1993 by the former Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate, but annulled by the administration of ex-military president Ibrahim Babangida.
The statement reads: “Nineteen years ago today, precisely on June 12, 1993, Nigerians put aside their different tongues, tribes and religions to vote for a man who embodied their dreams, aspirations and hope for a new Nigeria.
“On that day, millions of Nigerians voted for democracy in what remains the best elections ever conducted in the history of this country. However, the then military dictatorship, goaded on by anti-democratic forces annulled the people’s will. Thereafter Chief Moshood Abiola, the winner of that historic election who fought for the actualisation of his mandate was hounded into detention and eventually died.
“The annulment of that free and fair election punctured Nigeria’s journey towards establishing a democratic society and aborted our boldest attempt at nationhood. Since then, we have had several false starts and have conducted national elections that have failed to meet the very high standard set by the 1993 election.
“June 12, no matter how hard some people try to bury it, ignore it or seek to diminish it remains a watershed in Nigerian politics. Rather than just dwell on it, we must seize upon the spirit of June 12 to birth the Nigeria of our dream. The spirit of June 12 is that of patriotism, that of a burning desire to join hands to build a better country, June 12 was a rejection of religious and tribal politics, a demonstration of commitment to the ideals of a free society and that of a dogged spirit to vote for the best candidates. These are the goals we are still trying hard to achieve but have failed till date.
“Today, as we look back on that tumultuous yet revolutionary chapter in our journey to achieving a truly democratic society, we are forced to interrogate how Nigeria has fared. What has happened to the Nigeria of our dream? Why have our votes being repeatedly stolen and why has Nigeria failed to come up with an electoral system that guarantees every vote cast counts and protects the rights of all? Nineteen years after Nigerians through their votes and support for Chief Abiola put our leaders on notice about the kind of nation they want, we are still unfortunately stuck in our march to a truly fair and democratic society.
“I remember those heady days of the struggle shortly after the annulment. Yes, how can I ever forget the limbs and lives lost and our freedoms and rights that were trampled upon? Today, our dream and struggle for democratisation and the establishment of a free and just society guided by the rule of law is fading away gradually. Instead of free and fair elections, we have sham elections and scientific rigging, instead true federalism, we now have creeping unilateralism, instead of an independent judiciary, we have executive impunity putting our liberty and lives in danger. Rather than build democratic institutions, we are busy decimating them. This time around, election riggers must be put on notice that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any form of electoral fraud.
“Today, as we mark the June 12 anniversary, we must salute the man who made June 12 possible and who died prosecuting the struggle to regain the peoples’ mandate. More than anything else, we must realise that the greatest monument we can build in honour of M.K.O Abiola that will immortalise him is not in the hurried sectional and tokenist naming of an institution after him as recently announced by the government, but in every Nigerian vowing never again to let our votes be stolen or our electoral rights trampled upon. Abiola undoubtedly numbers among Nigerian greats that have made sacrifices to birth a modern nation. We do not seek kingdoms for Abiola but we seek justice. We seek for him what he more than deserves and has earned. Chief Abiola’s victory as elected President is now a settled matter. Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, then Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), declared the result in his book published in 2008. Nothing and no one can be more authoritative than the umpire who saw it all.
“Now, the most honourable thing to do is for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, to recognise M.K.O. Abiola as the second duly elected executive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria posthumously. We should accord him, even if posthumously, the recognition and all the rights and privileges due to that office. Finally, we should declare M.K.O’s birthday a national public holiday, just as it has been done in the United States for Martin Luther King. Or June 12, the date of the election could be declared a public holiday. I call upon all Nigerians, particularly politicians to imbibe the lessons of June 12 and by so honour the man, Abiola, who made it possible. The man who revealed to us all what we never knew about ourselves that though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we can still stand. “