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June 12 Election Anniversary: Give Abiola ex-president status, family tells FG

The family of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, has called on the Federal Government to declare him the winner and pay presidential entitlements to his family. The request was made on Sunday by the head of the family, Alhaji Muritala Abiola, at the commemoration of the June 12, 1993 election. The event, which was organised by the state government, started with a Democracy Walk from the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta to the Oke Ido ancestral home of the Abiolas. Muritala, who is a younger brother of the late business mogun, said if the head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, who held the position for only three months, still enjoys the perks of a former president, then their late bread winner deserved even much more, for dying for the enthronement of democracy in the country. “First, we want the Federal Government to declare June 12 as Democracy Day.

It should do even more than that. “Ken Saro Wiwa died fighting over Ogoni oil spillage, the Federal Government is doing the cleaning up of the oil spillage in Ogoni land. “MKO was killed because of an election he won maybe it is you journalists or the Nigerian government calling him acclaimed winner. “ He is not acclaimed winner, they should confirm him as slain president of Nigeria. “ MKO should be declared president. Although slain, all the entitlements belong to the family,” he said. Murtala, however, thanked the state government for keeping the memory of the late Abiola alive by staging a Democracy Walk in the last five years, but berated the government for not declaring Monday June 13, as a work-free day, since this year’s June 12, fell on a Sunday.

He argued that if public holidays like Independence Day which fell on Sunday could be declared the following day, Monday as a public holiday, this year’s June 12, should not have been different. He noted that it was rather painful for Ogun State House of Assembly to have enacted a law declaring June 12 as a public holiday, and the executive arm would refuse to honour it. He said, “I don’t want to raise eyebrow, because as today I am aggrieved, that’s my own opinion. People are telling us rule of law. June 12, Ogun State House of Assembly enacted a law, declaring June 12 every year public holiday. Just before yesterday (i.e on Friday) when we went to Oke-Mosan (Governor’s office) we were hearing that because it falls on Sunday, there is no public holiday.

“It means the Ogun State Government breaks the law because if it’s October 1st that falls on Sunday, they will give them public holiday on Monday. It is just the same thing but I believe we don’t have leaders, we have opportunists.” He appealed to the state government to return the school established by the late Abiola– Salawu Abiola Comprehensive High School, Osiele, Abeokuta —to the family to administer. Gov. Ibikunle Amosun, in his speech, said that everyone knew that late MKO Abiola was the adjudged winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Amosun, who was represented by the deputy governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, described him as the hero of the nation’s current democracy.

“ We have been organising the Democracy Walk and identifying with the Abiola family for the past five years that this administration has been in government. “He was a philanthropist and the hero of our current democracy,” he added. Meanwhile, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said that beyond being a watershed, the June 12 election, the annulment and its aftermath remain the cornerstone of our democracy as a people today In a statement to mark the 23rd anniversary of June 12 election, Tinubu said “we must not only cast our minds back to the events of that period, but we must never forget our patriots who lost lives and limbs in that epochal struggle.”

According to him, “because a few courageous ones across the broad spectrum of the Nigerian society formed a coalition and lead from the front, the military was unable to get away with its constitutional impunity. “Fired on by patriotism, resistant of years of oppressive military dictatorship and willing to do something about the situation Nigerians pushed the limits of civil disobedience against tyranny. By so doing, Nigerians pushed the military out, demanding for democratic governance and since then, there has been no looking back.

“The seed of democracy that was sown during the June 12 struggle of which Chief Kashimawo Abiola remains the spirit and the moving force is the fruit we now enjoin. Nigerians sustained the fervour and the patriotic disposition necessary for a new political culture to take root.” He, however, said 16 years after that struggle ended and the military departed, a new kind of struggle began, adding that “beyond the historic mandate given to the All Progressives Congress, APC is the urgent need to have every citizen be part of the change we want to see.

“From the streets and crannies, from the classrooms and boardrooms, from the lecture halls and the corridor of power, from the lawmakers, Ministers and leading politicians this is a season that demands our contribution, requires we make sacrifice and seeks that we work together towards building a critical mass that will see to the processes of the change vision now unfolding. “Nigerians must exact from its leaders performance and accountability.

“Just like in the moving spirit of June 12, Nigerians must speak up against any form financial recklessness and corruption in high places, in their States or local administration and wherever this is found. Beyond speaking against and exposing corruption, Nigerians must speak for and in support of the on-going concerted efforts being coordinated by President Muhammadu Buhari. “The lessons of the June 12 struggle abide. To June 12 we must return to rekindle our love and devotion for democracy and Nigeria.”

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