I LOST 69 SUPPORTERS -AMOSUN
Confusion, shock, stampede and promises of a brighter future trailed the inauguration of the new Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibkunle Amosun at the MKO Abiola Stadium yesterday.
It was hectic during the ceremony, which was witnessed by unprecedented crowd, against this back drop, no fewer than 20 members of the public who thronged the Abiola Stadium fainted and were revived later by a combined team of the Red Cross and the police.
Among them were dignitaries, women and youths who struggled to gain entrance into the main bowl of the stadium. Commercial activities as well as vehicular movements were paralyzed and many people were forced to walk long distance before could get to the venue of the inauguration ceremony.
Cultural dancers, groups, egungun, igunnuko and other religious groups who had wanted to entertain during the ceremony were disappointed as the crowd prevented them.
Prominent among dignitaries that graced the occasion included the wife of the former winner of the June 12 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, Chief Bisi Abiola and the widow of the former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) gubernatorial candidate in 2007, Otunba Dipo Dina.
Meanwhile, Amosun has lamented that he lost 69 members of his supporters during his struggle to become the governor. He alleged that his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel masterminded most of the attacks.
Amosun, who spoke shortly after his inauguration, also announced the re-naming of the Ijebu-Ode International Stadium after the late former gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Otunba Dipo Dina.
His words: 'At the last count, a total of 69 of our core supporters were killed in the cause of the struggle for democracy in Ogun State. Others who were lucky to escape being killed were seriously maimed leading to several weeks of hospitalization and in some cases permanent disabilities.'
He recalled that the injury his supporters suffered and the trauma they experienced still linger till today.
'I was not spared either; several attempts were made on my life, surviving only through the grace of God. Also Otunba Dipo Dina, the 2007 gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was gruesomely murdered.''
He recalled a particular instance when he said: ''In the course of my campaigns, my supporters and I were ambushed and attacked by opposition political hirelings at Adatan (car wash area) in Abeokuta.
'These thugs freely used guns and machetes to attack and kill some of my supporters, including the 'Amosun five', a group of young supporters of mine who were murdered and their bodies cut to pieces and throw into fish ponds on the fateful day.
'I am moved to tears each time I remember a scene during the attack; I was shielded by some young people including a policeman, who were determined to save my life, one of them was killed in the process of urging me to take cover.'I equally remember the bravery of our teeming supporters who were constant targets of life bullets from the opposition during the three-year protracted election petition tribunal sittings in Abeokuta and Ibadan.''
The governor, who appeared at the inauguration ceremony in an agbada which he said was bequeathed to him by his late father, said: 'Dina's high profile murder is currently being investigated by the police and I hope this will not be another entry in the list of unresolved murders in the country.'
For the sake of Dina and other fallen heroes, he said: ''I am determined to serve the people of Ogun State with commitment and a sense of purpose. That will be the greatest tribute to their collective memory.