By Leke Adeseri, South West Editor
Governors Rauf Aregbesola, Abiola Ajimobi, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Ayodele Fayose, Akinwunmi Ambode and Ibikunle Amosun of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos and Ogun states, respectively, have all declared today, June 12 as a work-free day in honour of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, in declaring today as Public Holiday to mark the 24th year of the June 12, 1993 presidential election said it was in the spirit of a united South-West states and the Yoruba nation agenda to speak with one voice at all times.
A statement issued yesterday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor noted that his action was in line with the united spirit of the Yoruba nation.
According to him, his administration is taking the step for the first time to align with other South Western states that had done the same, noting that; “the interest of the people being represented supersedes political or economic interests.’’
Also, the Lagos State Government declared today public holiday to mark June 12, saying that Lagos remains committed to the ideals of the annulled 1993 presidential election.
In a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, the government said the holiday was in honour of the ideals which June 12, 1993 presidential election represent being a day that the country experienced an election that was adjudged as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history.
The governor said 24 years after, the ideals of June 12 commemoration were worth celebrating, describing the day as one of the most defining moments of the country’s political history which has positively shaped its democratic rule.
Governor Ambode said the time has come for Nigerians to go beyond the commemoration and entrench a viable democracy as a way to immortalise the late presumed winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola through the practice of true federalism and conduct of credible and fair elections.
He said: “June 12, 1993 is a day we must not forget in the annals of our democratic history. Our present democratic experience may still be far from the ideal but we must all make concerted efforts to entrench fiscal federalism which is the only way to achieve true nationhood.”
He also assured that his administration remains committed to the ideals of June 12 by carrying out people-oriented programmes across the state and making life more comfortable for the people.
Meanwhile, the State Government, through the office of Civic Engagement, has perfected arrangement for the annual public symposium which will hold at the De Roof, LTV 8 in Ikeja, to celebrate June 12.
In Ondo State, a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Segun Ajiboye, said the late Abiola’s supreme sacrifice resulted in the hurried departure of the military from the political scene in 1999.
As part of the programmes lined up to celebrate the day, the government is organizing a lecture, with the theme: “June 12: A celebration of courage and resilience’.
The event will hold at the International Events and Culture Centre in Akure.
Eminent Nigerians, including notable activists are lined up to grace the event. Hon. Wale Oshun is chairman of the occasion, while human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, will be the guest speaker.
Akeredolu asked politicians across the country to always demonstrate their unquenchable love for the country.
The Oyo State government has also declared the day as a public holiday.
A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olalekan Alli, said that Governor Abiola Ajimobi approved Monday as work-free day to commemorate the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections.
The government said the anniversary was also in recognition and honour of the martyrdom of Chief Abiola, who laid down his life for Nigerians to enjoy the democratic dividends of today.
Also, the government of Osun State has declared today a public holiday to mark June 12 celebration in the state.
A statement issued on Friday, by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, announced the holiday.
The statement said: “In line with its established policy of observing June 12 of every year as Democracy Day, the State Government of Osun has declared Monday, June 12 as public holiday.
“The public holiday became imperative in view of the fact that June 12 marked a watershed in the history of democratic evolution in the country. It was the day the June 12, 1993 presidential election, adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria took place.”
Late Bashorun Moshood Abiola won the election. However, the victory was annulled by the then military head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
The Ogun State government also declared today as work-free. The Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, in a statement said: “Consistent with the practice of the past six years, and, as a way of identifying with and keeping the ideals of June 12 alive, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has declared Monday, June 12, 2017 as work free.”
The statement added: “This year’s celebration will feature the annual “Democracy Walk”, which will be led by the governor, starting from the JUNE 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta at 7 in the morning. The walk is expected to take participants through major roads in the state capital to the Abiola family homestead, at Oke-Ido, Gbagura, Abeokuta North Local Government Area, where special prayers and speeches will be made.
Later in the day, an inspirational stage play, “Oju Kelekun” (farewell to reproach), directed by Prof. Bakare Ojo Rasaki, will be performed at the June 12 Cultural Centre, between 3:45 and 6:00pm.