Benjamin Omoike, Lagos
In commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day, Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, former Minister of Education and presidential aspirant, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi among other notable Nigerians on Wednesday urged Nigerians to continue to keep the wishes, hopes and aspirations of the late Chief MKO Abiola in their memories by behaving rightly and playing their roles in nation building.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made the call at the wreath laying ceremony in honour of Abiola and to commemorate June 12 as Democracy Day at the late icon’s residence in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said making Nigeria a better country devoid of impoverishment which was the wish of Abiola, requires the collective efforts of both the government and the people.
“Today is about the wish, legacy and the good that Chief MKO Abiola had done. And may the wish of MKO continue to be in our memories. If we all as a people in our different lanes and capacities do the right thing, Nigeria will be great. That is the reality and that is what we owe MKO Abiola,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Lagos state governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day as against the May 29 date.
“We must thank President Buhari for making us to understand our reality and that June 12 is our history. Even our children will hear the story and appreciate it.
The Lagos state government will continue to strive and uphold the ideals of June 12 by ensuring the expansion of the frontiers of democratic governance and social justice,” he stated.
In his lecture entitled: “Hope 93: Democratic prosperity and political stability,” Prof. Pat Utomi urged political office holders and the elites to work together by creating wealth to avert the impending anarchy in the country.
Utomi stressed that the late Abiola’s ideology was hinged on economic prosperity, good healthcare, education and liberation for Nigerians.
“We need to reflect if we are where we are supposed to be as a people. Does our democracy work for us as a people?
There are many challenges confronting the country today and our political office holders and the elite need to proactively work together, create wealth and jobs to prevent the anarchy that is about to come.
“If we are to do the memory of MKO any good, we must build economic justice, ensure peace, stability and prosperity for all,” Utomi said.
In her remarks, Alhaja Bisi Abiola, wife of the late MKO Abiola, thanked the Lagos state government and civil society organisations for keeping hope alive.
Also at the event were Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of education; Issa Aremu, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) vice-president; Dele Alake, journalist and activist; Sen. Shehu Sani, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and other dignitaries.
It will be recalled that the process to accord June 12 recognition began in 2018 when President Buhari officially named June 12 as Democracy Day through an executive order.
The President also recognised the acclaimed winner of the June 12 election, late Bahorun MKO Abiola, as a past president and awarded him the highest honour in the land while Abiola’s former running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, was recognised as a former vice-president and bestowed with the GCON award.