‘Abiola Should be Named Former President’

Joe Okei-Odumakin

Shola Oyeyipo holds a conversation with Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin, a rights activist, who commends President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring the late MKO Abiola, widely acknowledged as winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. She, however, urged the Buhari administration to close the June 12 saga by naming Abiola a former president

What is your overall view of June 12?

June 12 remains a watershed about free choice, ballot integrity and a constant reminder to us that whatever we have today as civil rule/democracy is a product of the sacrifice of Nigerians, Chief MKO Abiola and the many persons who fought for the enthronement of democracy in our country.

In what ways do you think Abiola’s sacrifice has influenced politics in Nigeria?

The ultimate sacrifice made by Chief MKO Abiola remains the foundation upon which the existence of our politics in Nigeria today is built. Though many of our current political actors refused to acknowledge this and have continually acted contrary to the ideals of June 12.

What do you consider as the significance of immortalizing MKO Abiola?

The sacrifice Abiola made for us should not to be forgotten. June 12, therefore, cannot be ignored by the family and the government. It will help the coming generations to value our hard-earned democracy.

Do you think Nigeria has honoured the late MKO appropriately?

The courageous decision of President Buhari’s administration to recognise June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day is very commendable, and it is a good step in honoring MKO Abiola. But we still our demand, that the National Assembly formally pass a legislation that recognises Chief Abiola as a former president of Nigeria.

What more would you want to see as regards immortalizing Abiola?

We would want that Chief MKO Abiola should be officially recognised as a former president of Nigeria, and all entitlements due to the office, paid to his family.

How do you want that done?

The result of June 12 should be published in a gazette. The 9th assembly should pass a law for a posthumous declaration of Abiola as ex-president and should approve the entitlements due to him as former president of Nigeria.