Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday unveiled the new 37-feet Chief Moshood Kashimao Olawale, MKO Abiola statue at Alapere area of the state in honour of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The governor also canvassed for restructuring of the nation that will lead to fiscal federalism and devolution of power.
The governor spoke at two events in honour of Abiola. The first event was the June 12 Anniversary celebration at the Blue Roof, Lagos Television, Ikeja and the unveiling of the Abiola Statue held at Alapere area of Ketu, Southwest Nigeria.
Speaking at the June 12 anniversary, Ambode said the theme of the event, “Restructuring: Antidote for Ineffective and Ineffective Politics”, was apt, stressing that as a State and people, “our stand on a restructuring process that will lead to fiscal federalism, devolution of power is very clear.
“Our present democratic experience may still be far from ideal but we must all make concerted efforts to entrench fiscal federalism which is the only way to achieve true nationhood. We are absolutely convinced that it is the right way to go for us to realise the optimum potential and prosperity of the federating States and the nation.”
He said since the annulment of June 12, the struggle for its actualization had continued until President Muhammadu Buhari pronounced the day as Democracy Day and conferring posthumous award on Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and others.
The governor said by this singular act of the president, he had written his name in Gold in the political history of Nigeria, adding that this formal recognition is a crown of victory to the struggle that had taken the lives of so many nationalists and patriots.
The governor saluted leaders of the struggle, including Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Ambassador Walter Carrington, Justice Dolapo Akinsanya, Chief Frank Kokori, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Mr. Wale Oshun, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and other Nigerians and Civil Society Organisations, trade and labour unions, among others.
Speaking at the event, Special Adviser to the Governor on Civic Engagement, Benjamin Olabinjo said June 12 stood as a universal pact for all Nigerians, saying that Lagos State had never lost sight of the importance of identifying with the struggle and the defence of democracy and the universal right of all individuals to actualize their maximum potentials.
The guest lecturer, Dr. Dele Ashiru of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, called for special status for Lagos being the commercial nerve centre of the nation and also called for the restructuring of the nation, saying that a situation where a behemoth sat at the centre and distributed resources to others was an anathema to federalism.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Abiola statue, Ambode said he was particularly happy that Lagos State had a good reason to honour Abiola as a symbol of democracy, saying that exactly 25 years since he won a presidential election but was refused to serve the people who gave him their mandate, the country finally and deservedly recognised him with the highest honour in the land – the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.
“We are very happy to gather here today at the MKO Abiola garden to unveil this statue, a monument that will forever crystallize his legacy, serves as a reminder to the greatness that Chief Abiola represents in our socio-political landscape As an individual, he transcended race, tribe and religion. He appealed to all Nigerians and we voted for him. Sadly, he lost his life trying to secure his mandate.
“Even though he was from another State, Lagos was his home. And we recognize his contribution to our State and our democracy. It is now my honour to unveil this statue as a monument to symbolize democracy and the supremacy of the voice of the people,” he said.
Abiola’s son, Abdulmuminu Abiola lamented that for 16 years, the Peoples Democratic Party failed to honour his father, while commending the All Progressives Congress, APC, for honour accorded his father, while also thanking Ambode for building a bigger statue in honour of his father.