By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Neither Chief MKO Abiola who won the 1993 election nor Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was one of the most resolute advocates for the manifestation of the 1993 mandate were present to receive the Federal Government recognition of their heroic struggles. They were, however, represented by their children who yesterday spoke from their hearts on what the recognition of their fathers meant to them.
MKO rehearsed his acceptance speech before the mirror — Hafsat Abiola-Costello
“It is difficult to try to stand in the shoes of a giant of one of the greatest humans that the world ever had, but that is the responsibility of why we are here today. And indeed, even for MKO Abiola, it was difficult for him to imagine how he would speak to Nigerians in the inauguration.
“My mum told me how he would stand in the mirror he was preparing his speech because the results were coming in, he thought he was going to deliver it. And you know he used to stammer, so he will start… “dear fellow Nigerians” but he never really got passed fellow Nigerians.
“He would say a few words, he will say not like that and then start again, and he kept struggling to say what he will say to Nigerians. Because what MKO wanted to say to the Nigerian people and all that MKO did say to the people of Nigeria is to say, I love you the people of Nigeria, I believe in you the people of Nigeria.
“He was born Yoruba, but he loved Hausa people, Kanuri, Efik, Igbo people, he loved all. You just needed to be a Nigerian and MKO was your man. If he could help he would do. There are so many things he already did to show it, and that was why the people of Nigeria rewarded him with the mandate of June 12, 1993.
“But we know that he was never able to deliver that speech but in many ways, the event that transpired later revealed to Nigerians the eloquence in his heart, the fidelity of his commitment and even his own deep abiding wish that if there was any way his actions would in any way comprise the people of Nigeria, MKO preferred to die, he preferred to leave the earth rather than compromise on you, on your integrity as a people and your sovereignty as a nation.
“Which was why even the day before he died when he was still being pressured, he asked the question, how do you shave a person’s heads in his absence. He knew he was present in the room he was pressured, but he knew that so long as he refused to allow his head to be shaved as a symbolic message to you the people of Nigeria that you will be saved.
“And when he died, we accepted his body and have watched in Nigeria as year after year till now the 25th year, the people have suffered, and he was not recognised at all.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, Nelson Mandela it was who said, “It always seems impossible until it is down.”
“Who would have ever believed given the relationship that you had with Chief MKO Abiola that you would be the instrument God will use to honour this man and to bring recognition and healing to the country.
“You apologized to my family, and it touched my heart. You know that I also lost my mother in this struggle so that apology meant so much. Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of the Chief MKO Abiola because I know what he would have done; I use this opportunity to apologize to you, to apologize to your family, anything that he might have done to harm you and to harm your family.
“Let me also say at this juncture that Chief MKO Abiola was so committed to us saying farewell to poverty in Nigeria and today we have more people in poverty in Nigeria than we had in 1993.
“I read the statement that you made where you said we should prepare now to wage a battle for the defence of the people of Nigeria against those who think of themselves as the landlords of Nigeria.
“Let me say to you that by recognizing June 12, you awaken so many heroes and heroines of Nigeria’s struggle who have shown because they stood firm on June 12 that money cannot buy them. If there is any match that we need to match, if there is any protest that we need to be present to protest, you have called up your own new Army for the defence of this country.
“And President Muhammadu Buhari, this fight will not take you God willing as it has taken MKO but let us fight and bring about the conclusion of MKO’s struggle that the Nigerian people should be the ones in full control of this country. It is not for a few landlords whoever they may be; it is for the 200 million people of Nigeria. “
We accept the apology —Kola Abiola
“Mr. President on behalf of the MKO Abiola family, we accept both the award and the apology. We will like to thank you for the great honour you have done for our family. We thank you for taking the decisive measures to strengthen our democracy and guarantee our future by reconciling our past. Thank you very much, sir. Generations to come will honour you for this.
“My the souls of our dearly departed Rest In Peace. God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.
Politicians must appreciate themselves — Mohammed Fawehinmi
Your Excellency, I want to congratulate you for this gesture. You are the first sensitive and reasonable head of state that has listened to Nigerians and acted accordingly. June 12 is the foundation of democracy in this country. The recognition of Chief MKO Abiola as president-elect in this country not as the presumed winner, I thank God that I have seen today.
I congratulate the family of MKO Abiola, everybody present; I am proud of all of you. I also congratulate all of my family members here present.
These people stood their ground, sacrificed all they had for this country, and I thank Nigerians that their sacrifices have not been in vain.
Today is symbolic because it shows the entrenchment of unity among all the citizens of this country regardless of tribe, ethnic background, religious beliefs because we are all Nigerians.
I want to appeal to all our politicians for God’s sake let us appreciate ourselves as Nigerians. Chief MKO won Election ’93, but he was not allowed to govern. President Buhari won, and we thank God, he was allowed to govern.
We urge all Nigerians to support this man, to stop bickering and trivialities, about religion and ethnic background. If you lose, take it that way.
We are experiencing problems in Nigeria now because of hatred of values but I know with Oga at the helms of affairs things will be better for Nigeria.