It was gathered that Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Prof. Akin Oyebode and other activists have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in the country to immortalise the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Kashimao Olawale Abiola.
Ambode and others spoke at the June 12 Rally at the Lagos Television Ground, Ikeja in Lagos, southwest Nigeria on Friday.
The governor said that June 12 should be declared Democracy Day in Nigeria to honour Abiola.
He said the hope of the people was dashed when the June 12 election was annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida, saying that what the nation now enjoyed today was rooted in June 12.
“June 12 personifies our desire to liberate ourselves and take charge of our destiny. June 12 symbolises the patriotism of all Nigerians as the election fired up hope in the mind of the people.
“Lagos has continued to be the hub of democratic ideas and we will continue to expand the frontiers of democratic governance and freedom of our people. June 12 should be declared the real democracy day,” Ambode said.
According to him, “the outcome of this year’s election proved that June 12 has been fruitful. We owe it a duty to immortalise the memory of our heroes,” he said.
The governor stated that Nigeria would never forget Abiola and other martyrs of the June 12 episode
Speaking at the event, Prof Akin Oyebode who was the chairman of the occasion, described Abiola as a titanic hero who must be immortalised, saying that June 12 showed that nobody could suppress the wish of the people.
“Abiola was a precursor of the change we are celebrating today. His slogan was farewell to poverty and have we really banished poverty? The lesson to be learnt was that those who truncate the progress of the people will never be remembered,” he said.
Oyebode added that June 12 had been relegated in the country, saying that ethnicisation of June 12 is a disservice to Nigerians.
“The Federal Government should declare June 12 public holiday. Our victory will not be total until June 12 is recognised as democracy day,” he stated.
Aslo, activists have challenged President Buhari to immortalise Abiola.
The spirit of June 12 has refused to die 22 years after as Nigerians, especially those in the southwest are still clamouring for the recognition of Abiola.
Comrade Debo Adeniran, founder, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL said Abiola deserved to be immortalised rather than June 12 as he was the symbol of the botched election.
“It is Abiola that should be immortalised and not June 12. Everything that led to June 12 and its aftermath was Abiola who represented the will and wishes of the people who championed the aftermath of June 12 election where 40 million Nigerians came to vote and were denied the proceeds of that effort.
“The present regime should waste no time before they immortalise him. There is nothing stopping the government from naming the National Stadium, Abuja after him or any other national monument, even the National Mosque in Abuja can be named after him,” he said.
Comrade Biodun Aremu of the Joint Action Front, JAF, also wants Buhari to immortalise Abiola.
“The present government should stand by what Abiola stood for,” he said, adding that it was not just naming a monument after him that was the issue, but fulfilling his ideals.
“Even those who claimed to love Abiola are hypocrites. There is no official gazette in any southwest state that June 12 should be declared holiday, so if any government comes in now, it can decide not to have it.
“June 12 is just the day of the election, it was annulled June 23. People came to vote him to eradicate poverty. The same thing led to the voting of Buhari, people want change. Abiola will be immortalised if the government keeps electoral promises. All those who claim they are immortalising June 12, in what way have they been responsible in making things good? The elements like Faseun and others who built their popularity on it, what has become of them? The basic things must be provided,” he said.