BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI AND MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
LAGOS – Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, former Lagos and Kaduna state governors, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Alhaji Balarabe Musa and several rights activists yesterday urged the Federal Government to accord the late Moshood Abiola, the undeclared winner of the election, a more befitting national honour, saying his symbol represented the entire country.
Apparently reacting to the renaming of University of Lagos, UNILAG as Moshood Abiola University Lagos, MAULAG, by President Goodluck Jonathan for the immortalisation of Abiola politicians and rights groups who spoke at the Blue Roof, Lagos Television, venue of the 19th anniversary of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election with a lecture entitled; ‘Challenges and Prospects of True Federalism, Political Legitimacy and National Security’ noted that the renaming of UNILAG fell short of national recognition.
Chairman on the occasion and former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa said the statement of Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the electoral umpire of the June 12 election admitting that Abiola clearly won the election and the recent move by President Goodluck Jonathan to rename University of Lagos after Abiola has justified the continuation of such remembrance.
He affirmed that the late Abiola deserved more than the renaming of a university, calling on the Federal Government to establish a judicial commission of enquiry to find out the circumstances that led to the annulment of the election and punish those responsible for it.
“This is the only way we can ensure that this does not happen in the country again. The Federal Government should also establish a national monument to preserve the legacies of the late philanthropist”. Musa stated.
Harping on the renaming of University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos, Tinubu said the process of renaming universities after heroes was no longer unique, adding that the choice of UNILAG gives an impression that Abiola’s strides were sectional.
He charged the Federal Government to accord the nation’s hero of democracy a national immortalization for the winner of the June 12 presidential election, saying the victory cuts across the entire country.
His words, “That mandate was a national mandate. I support the call that since the president has known the result, Abiola should be recognised posthumously as the second democratically elected president of Nigeria and declare either his birthday or June 12 as a national holiday as it was done for Martin Luther-king. This is a man who struggled and died for this country. That is the minimum that we will demand from the federal government”.
Fashola in his address disagreed with other speakers who expressed pessimism on a likely change in the fortunes of Nigeria saying that his belief was on the premise that those who presently hold the nation should ransom are in the minority.
Fashola added that the events of June 12, 1993 elections should “inspire all of us to courage at the time Abiola stood up to claim his mandate let me remind us that the few journalists who stood to stand by him were detained but today in spite of our imperfection we have left that stage, let me remind us too that at that stage our laws were full of decrees that we could not even go to court but Abiola stood up in those difficult times and we can afford to do no less today, we can afford to be no less patriotic than he was if must change those things that we do not accept”.
Speaking on the immortalisation of MKO Abiola, the leader of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr Fredrick Fasheun stated that the late Abiola lived his life and die for Nigeria and should be immortalised accordingly.
Fasheun added that the plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce a N2, 000 note is a good development but suggested that the picture of the late chief MKO Abiola should be printed on the note, adding “this is a national honour for him.”
Corroborating his views, a rights activist, Comrade Femi Obayori also expressed pessimism about a likely change in the fortunes of the country except a Sovereign National Conference is converged with representatives of the masses to discuss the way forward for Nigeria.
In the same vein, Professor Kolawole Ogundowole in his comments said he was also not optimistic about a change in Nigeria except there is a drastic change in the fundamental structure of the nation.
Ogundowole who also shared his thoughts on the best way to immortalize late MKO Abiola, called on President Jonathan to declare Abiola as winner and installed as post humus president adding that the Aso Rock Villa be renamed as Moshood Abiola Villa.