Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A group under the auspices of Ekiti Recovery Movement (ERM) on Saturday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the death of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Kashimaawo Olawale Abiola, in Ekiti State, describing him as the pillar on which Nigerian democracy rests.
The group commended President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring the business mogul by conferring the highest honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on him to celebrate his achievements as a democrat.
In his address at the memorial lecture held in Ado Ekiti, the ERM Coordinator, Olalekan Soyombo, said the essence of the ceremony was to further restate the fact that those who worked assiduously to rekindle the passion for democracy must be celebrated to serve as a guiding principle for the coming generations.
He said the past administrations headed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Musa Yarâ€™Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan betrayed Nigerians by their refusal to honour Abiola before now despite paying the supreme price for Nigeria to stand democratically.
Soyombo said: â€œAfter Abiola was incarcerated, what followed after were surreptitious and subtle moves to coerce him to abandon the mandate that was freely given to him by Nigerians through the ballot box on June 12 1993, he resisted this vehemently and doggedly.
â€œHis arrest and detention gave birth to the growth of the Pan-Nigeria pro-democracy movements. Many activists and patriots both in Nigeria and diaspora, among whom was Dr. Kayode Fayemi, came together to form many organisations that were instrumental to the cause that finally led to the permanent confinement of the military to the barracks and set the country on the path of democracy which we enjoy today as a people.
â€œPro-democarcy organisations like NADECO, CDHR, CD, CLO and CDD, kept organising mass resistance movements in collaboration with trade union movements like NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN and to force the military to recognise the democratic rights of the Nigerian people to elect a leader of their choice which is what that June12 election represents.
â€œMany activists like Beko Ransome-Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Kayode Fayemi and Segun Mayegun were arrested and jailed, while some like Pa Alfred Rewane, Bagauda Kaltho and Kudirat Abiola were martyrs who ascended to martyrdom, while a whole lot of others like Soyinka, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Opeyemi Bamidele, Chief John Oyegun escaped on exile for fear of their lives and to also take up the struggle from thereâ€.
Soyombo said the July 14 governorship election reclamation struggle being championed by Fayemi in Ekiti was akin to the war waged against the military to retrieve Abiolaâ€™s mandate.
He said another liberation battle is being pursued in Ekiti today, following the harrowing experiences being encountered by the populace under Governor Ayodele Fayose in a manner akin to the civilian version of the military iron-fisted and Jack-boot rule in the state.
â€œThere is no gain-saying that what the Ekiti people have gone through in the last four years of the Ayo Fayose led PDP government is nothing short of oppression, repression and retrogression.
â€œBut in exactly a week, after the commemoration of the 20 years of the unfortunate demise of MKO Abiola precisely, 14th of July 2018, the Ekiti people will go to the poll once again to put an end to the economic deprivation, lacks, squalor and massive looting that have characterised governance in the state in the last four years through balloting.â€