•Harps on restructuring
By Dirisu Yakubu
IF the June 12 ,1993 presidential election had not been annulled and the winner, late Chief MKO Abiola sworn-in, Nigeria’s socio-economic and political development would not have been stunted, Professor Tunde Adeniran has said.
Professor Adeniran, acting chairman of the Social Democratic Party, SDP and former Education minister, said the June 12 debacle hindered hindered the nation’s political and socio-economic progress.
Commending President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the bold step in making the historic day a national holiday and democracy day, he chided past democratic administrations for glossing over the date.
He said: “It is widely believed across the country as well as in the outside world that Nigeria would have made real progress in critical areas of infrastructural development and welfare of Nigerians if he (Abiola) was was allowed to lead the country as President and to implement his grand ideas.
“In the annals of our nation’s political history and democratic evolution, the date, June 12, has come to symbolize the most epochal national event of contemporary Nigeria. It was a historic day when Nigeria truly existed as a nation through the unprecedented action of her disparate people who demonstrated, through the power of the ballot, the right sense of nationhood that transcended our bifurcating polarities. The momentous event of that day was, perhaps, one of the finest moments of our national life.
“Abiola, a first-rate accountant and business mogul cum politician, emerged as the defining symbol of the unity in diversity of modern Nigeria. Notwithstanding his Muslim-Muslim ticket with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as the candidates of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, they were massively voted for by the Nigerian electorate across the north and south divides of the country and across religious lines, thereby defeating Bashir Tofa Muslim-Christian ticket of the National Republican Convention, NRC. But quite sadly and inexplicably, the election was annulled, thereby aborting, yet, the bright prospects of Nigeria for greatness. Quite interestingly, as it was demonstrated by that election, religion did not in any way matter in voters’ decision on that fateful day as Nigerians momentarily buried the twin evils of ethnic bigotry and religion.
“Quite naturally, and expectedly, the decision of the Buhari administration to declare June 12 as the nation’s new Democracy Day in honour of the role of MKO Abiola elicited excitement for true patriots and genuine democrats, especially the front line active players and actors in the struggle against the military occasioned by the shocking annulment of that presidential election that was adjudged as freest and most credible in Nigerian history. There is no gainsaying that the singular action of that declaration will ever remain one of President Buhari’s enduring legacies, especially bearing in mind the fact that we have had three democratically elected presidents before him, but none gave consideration to the need of revisiting the pride of place of June 12 in the democratic dispensation that brought them to power.”
He called on government to move beyond declaring the date a national holiday to muster the political will to deliver on the ideals the late Abiola laboured and eventually paid the supreme price.
His words: “In the spirit of June 12, and the ideals of human dignity, freedom from want and pervasive poverty which Abiola lived his adult life in promoting, the SDP is committed to working to lift out of the vicious cycle of poverty, the over 90 million Nigerians that are reportedly living in extreme poverty.