By DAPO AKINREFON
LAGOS—AS a way of immortalizing winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola, Secretary-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Lateef Adegbite; Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and one time Deputy Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora and a Niger-Delta activist, Ms. Ankio Briggs, yesterday in Lagos, called on the Federal Government to declare June 12 a national holiday for him.
They said this at the residence of the late business mogul during the 19th anniversary of June 12 tagged: “June 12 Democracy Day Celebration” organised by June 12 Movement, Change Agents of Nigeria Project and Kudirat Abiola Initiative for Democracy, in Lagos.
Prominent Nigerians present at the anniversary included: Chief Supo Shonibare, Ropo Sekoni, Mumuni Abiola, Jamiu Abiola, former Minister of Information, Chief John Nwodo, Mr. Joseph Eva, Professor Onasanya, Dr Tunji Abayomi, and Segun Aka-Bashorun among others.
On his part, Adegbite called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to release the official results of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
While lamenting that due recognition had not been accorded the date, he said “June 12 is once more with us. We recall passionately the glory of that date, June 12, 1993. It is lamentable however that the Nigerian authorities are yet to accord due recognition to the historic day. I, therefore, humbly urge President Goodluck Jonathan whose election as president last year was the closet in cleanliness to that of MKO Abiola’s election of June 12, 1993, to kill several birds with one stone.”
Adegbite called on the government to, “release officially the results of the elections. Declare Chief M.K.O Abiola the winner of the election. Confer posthumously on Abiola all the honours due to an elected President of Nigeria including the award of the national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.”
He further said June 12 should be declared MKO Abiola Day to replace May 29 currently observed as Democracy Day adding that “the gesture will be compared to Dr Martin Luther King jnr in the United States of America.”
The Seriki and Baba Adinni of Egbaland, however said such recognition “is without prejudice to the naming of certain public institutions in his honour such as the University of Lagos and Abuja National Stadium as previously resolved by the Senate.”
Ikuforiji, who supervised the laying of a wreath on the tomb of Abiola, suggested that there was need for the federal government to do the right thing by “declaring June 12 a national holiday for him.”
The Lagos Speaker said “just as a day was set aside for Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King jnr, I am calling on the federal government and the National Assembly to make sure that June 12 be declared a national holiday and MKO Abiola day. INEC, should as a matter of importance declare Abiola the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections. If Chief Ernest Shonekan, a former head of the Interim National Government, is being recognised as a former president of Nigeria, Abiola should not be an exception.”
Senator Mamora said “if I were the president of Nigeria, what I would do is to declare June 12 a public holiday because we cannot afford to ignore such a day. June 12 was a day that the national question was resolved, to a large extent.”
Briggs stated that the yearly celebration of June 12 was meant to correct all the ills and injustices that had existed in the country.
Briggs said “June 12, for me, is about correcting all the ills that exists in Nigeria. Nigeria has been run by civilian dictatorship whom we call cabal. One of the ways that MKO Abiola will be honoured is for a government to recognise that Nigerians gave Abiola a mandate and so should be recognised as a true former president of Nigeria. Also, his portrait should be hung in the hall alongside former presidents of Nigeria”.