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June 12: Abiodun pays tributes to Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Bagauda Kalto, others

By Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Saturday, paid glowing tributes to late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993, Presidential election, saying his life symbolizes hope.

Abiodun also paid tributes to other heroes of the struggle for the actualization of June 12 after the annulment of that election, citing Alfred Rewane; Late Dr. Omatsola; Bagauda Kalto; Kudirat Abiola among many others who even paid the supreme price to enthrone democracy in Nigeria.

The governor who spoke at the MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta, during a ceremony to mark this year’s Democracy Day, said Nigerians were only consoled by the re-introduction of democracy in 1999 and the fact that the nation has continued to enjoy the longest and unbroken democratic experience since then.

He urged the nation to ​see Abiola’s mandate as a reminder that Nigerians are stronger staying together as one, stressing that the late politician’s acceptance at the poll, broke all barriers such as religion and ethnicity being used today to divide the country.

He appealed to Nigerians to shun negative and divisive forces and policies on the back-foot and embrace the symbolism of June 12.

He said: “Let us join hands to make Nigeria work for all Nigerians. This will end all quest for self-determination and other sectarian agitations and calm frayed nerves. June 12 represents what will strengthen the country’s unity, indivisibility and oneness.

“Therefore, we must not forget that, as individuals, we can also change the course of history, like MKO did, even at this point in time. We must all note that each and every one of us, our actions and inactions, will either propel the country forward or fuel the already tensed situation. Our country should rise and fulfill its full potentials in the comity of nations.

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“The best way to immortalize and celebrate MKO Abiola and June 12, particularly, at this time of our national life, is to build bridges and demolish fences. We should think Nigerian and not sectarian. We should not limit that mandate and success to 1993. We must ensure that the hope is kept alive. We cannot afford to bring down our country or show despair in our future. Truly, Nigeria shall rise again.

“​Some may wonder why we take so much interest in the unity of Nigeria. With the contributions of our heroes past in Ogun State and some of them still living, perhaps more than any other state, we have a greater stake in the unity of Nigeria.

“Our people have made, more than any other States, the greatest contributions, sacrifices for the unity, oneness and solidarity of Nigeria.

This is not to paper over the challenges we have, even some defects that the citizenry abhor. But then, as MKO Abiola would say, Ori bibe ko logun ori fifo.

“It is better to jaw-jaw rather than to war-war. War has never done anybody any good. Even the so-called victor is a victim. We can evolve a new and better Nigerian for all of us through a peaceful process. This is what new constitutional review process offers us.”

The governor also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for recognising June 12 formally as the day Democracy berthed in Nigeria as well as bestowing the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR), the highest honour of the land on Abiola post-houmously.

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