By Sunday Okobi
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Monday paid tribute to the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, saying that he died trying to regain the mandate given to him by the Nigerian people.
Also, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) chieftain urged Nigerians to use this opportunity to honour him and fight for a new Nigeria by making sure all votes in subsequent elections are protected.
In a statement he (Tinubu) issued on the 19th anniversary of June 12, he said: “Today, as we mark the June 12 anniversary, we must salute the man who made June 12 possible and who died prosecuting the struggle to regain the peoples’ mandate.
“More than anything else, we must realise that the greatest monument we can build in honour of Chief Abiola that will immortalise him is not in the hurried and tokenist naming of an institution after him as recently announced by the government, but in every Nigerian vowing never again to let our votes to be stolen or our electoral rights trampled upon.
“We must seize upon the spirit of June 12 to birth the Nigeria of our dream. The spirit of June 12 is that of patriotism, that of a burning desire to join hands to build a better country, June 12 was a rejection of religious and tribal politics, a demonstration of commitment to the ideals of a free society and that of a dogged spirit to vote for the best candidates during the conduct of elections.”
“Abiola undoubtedly numbers among Nigeria’s greats that have made sacrifices to birth a modern nation. We do not seek kingdoms for Abiola, but we seek for him what he more than deserves and as earned. Chief Abiola’s victory as elected President is now a settled matter.
“Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, then Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), declared the result in his book published in 2008. Nothing and no one can be more authoritative than the umpire who saw it all.”
He decried that the annulment of that free and fair election punctured Nigeria’s journey towards establishing a democratic society and “aborted our boldest attempt at nationhood. Since then, we have had several false starts and have conducted national elections that have failed to meet the very high standard set by the 1993 election.”
The former governor insisted: “We should accord him, even if posthumously, all the rights and privileges due to that office. The Federal Government should also apologise to Nigerians for the annulment, since it was carried out by former agents of the Nigerian state.
“Finally, we should declare M.K.O’s birthday a national public holiday, just as it has been done in the United States for Martin Luther King. I call upon all Nigerians, particularly politicians to imbibe the lessons of June 12 and by so honour the man, Abiola who made it possible,” Tinubu stated.