JUNE 12: ENDLESS DEMAND FOR MKO ABIOLA'S IMMORTALISATION
Activists would not let go despite the fact that 2012, is a year that Federal Government came close to according MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 12 general election a befitting honour, in a rather controversial way with the renaming of University of Lagos After him. UCHENNA AWOM in this piece chronicles the unending demands, particularly the agitation that Abiola be recognised as executive President posthumously.
June 12 is one day old today, but activists would not let go. The mantra remains that the man MKO Abiola who symbolizes the struggle has not been properly celebrated by the federal government and all others who are direct beneficiaries of the irrespective of the renaming of University of Lagos after him. They are insisting that the proper thing to do to etch Abiola on people's consciousness is to adopt June 12 as the authentic democracy day instead of May 29.
May 29, they echoed represents the day 'the cabal sold Nigerians a dummy of democracy'.' It was a day we were supplied something different from what we ordered. It is a celebration of impunity and the wanton rape of the sovereignty of the Nigeria people. May 29 also signals the enthronement of civil rule which lacks the basic democratic ingredient', says Joe Okei-Odumakin, the president of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Women Arise,
Dr. Odumakin, said June 12 is superior to May 29 and therefore the greatest honour that can be done to MKO is to declare it Democracy Day.
Her words: 'June 12 has all it takes to be celebrated as Democracy Day because that was the day Nigerians, irrespective of the situation, put aside all their differences – religious, ethnic and otherwise – to vote for Abiola as president of a country united under the banner of farewell to poverty. It was also an occasion that people said no to the continuation of military rule in Nigeria. June 12 represents all our dreams. It is the day the votes counted and were counted. That was the day Nigerians resolved the National Question by voiding geography and Abiola defeated Tofa in Kano. So, Nigerians set aside religion as a Muslim-Muslim ticket won convincingly in Christian-dominated states.
'Thirteen years after the military returned to the barracks, the injury has not healed. We are having problems, left, right and center, as the greed and misrule of politicians have divided the country more than any other time. So, within this context, June 12 is superior to May 29 and the greatest honour that can be done to MKO is to declare it Democracy Day.'
Also another human rights activist, Richard Akinola, said that the fact that June 12 is still in the front burner of political discourse 19 years after the election was annulled showed the inevitability of the call for the day to be declared Democracy Day.
'Definitely, I support the call that June 12 be declared Democracy Day because apart from the fact that it was adjudged to be the freest election in Nigeria, the election paved the way for the present democracy that we are enjoying. But due to the pettiness of the ruling political class, they have not mustered enough political will to declare June 12 Democracy Day or public holiday. But it is a question of time. The fact that the June 12 is still in the front burner of political discourse after almost 19 years shows the inevitability of the call,' she said.
For the national leader of Citizen Popular Party (CPP), Chief Maxi Okwu, said that making June 12 Democracy Day is more honourable than the controversial renaming of University of Lagos (UNILAG) as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos (MAULAG).
'I am one of those that support the idea of June 12 as Democracy Day. President Jonathan would have done better declaring June 12 Democracy Day in honour of Abiola rather than his controversial renaming of UNILAG MAULAG. Jonathan's action on UNILAG is in total disregard of the UNILAG Act 1962. May 29 has little historic value except to stroke the ego of Obasanjo,' he said.
What has happened in that last few weeks seems to echo a collective disenchantment of the June 12 agitators, but yet some other Nigerians are of the opinion that Abiola has been adequately recognized with the renaming of a first rate University after him. That could not be any less a monument befitting of the man who died to give Nigerians genuine democracy.
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, however upped the demand saying in a statement that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan should declare Abiola as the second duly elected executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria posthumously. 'We should accord him, even if posthumously, the recognition and all the rights and privileges due to that office. Finally, we should declare MKOs birthday a national public holiday, just as it has done in the United States for Martin Luther King. Or June 12, the date of the election could be declared a public holiday', he said.
The agitation will never end and of course the politics of June will continue to expand. That is the quintessential Abiola; famous in life, controversial in death but yet the spirit marches on.