Soyinka, Falana, Others Lay Wreath on Abiola’s Grave


Esther Oluku

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said closure over the death of Chief MKO Abiola will be achieved when some of the  challenges facing  the country are confronted and eliminated.

Soyinka said this at a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the death of Abiola, organised by Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA) at MKO Abiola’s graveside in Ikeja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, died on July 7, 1998.

He was charged for treason in 1994 by the Nigerian government, because he had declared himself the lawful President of Nigeria. He died in custody on the verge of being released in 1998.

Soyinka said: “This is the first gathering in honour of MKO Abiola after the formal recognition by the federal government that he was duly elected, and that he is a past president of this nation.

“And all we are waiting for is the formal  actualisation through symbolic  presence of his photographs among other presidents, even though he was never sworn into office.

“We cannot escape the past, but we can confront the challenges of the present, which of course very often arise from the past.

“We are inching slowly towards closure. One of these days when we gather, we shall be rejoicing.

“At that time, we would have progressed towards the elimination of some of the abnormalities and contradictions in our country.

“We have the issue of security, obeying the law, which is one thing that equalises all. President Muhammadu Buhari should lead by example by obeying the dictates of the law, so that other Nigerians can follow suit.

“It is this refusal to obey the law that has made some sectors of the populace think they are above the law and are causing anarchy in the country.

“We have a responsibility as a people, and government should address the issue of education, youth unemployment and insecurity.

“Just when we thought we were dealing with Boko Haram, then come these nomadic herdsmen armed with AK-47, and gradually, the kind of harmonious relationships that existed between various productive arms of this nation begins to disappear.

“We find ourselves on a daily basis being threatened, killed, our women being raped and other productive arms like farmers being driven off their own territories.

“These are critical issues that we need to deal with head on and urgently, so that we begin to celebrate the memories of Late Abiola and what he stood for,” Soyinka said.

He described Late Abiola as a true leader and an icon of inspiration for Nigerians.

“MKO Abiola is one of those that belongs in that galaxy of stellar leaders who at the critical moments said No.  Nelson Mandela was one of them,  Leah Sharibu is another young example.

“MKO Abiola, when he was given a conditional release in detention, said No.  This is an essential lesson,” he said.

Also speaking, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, said that a team of lawyers was being set up to re-open the matter on the death of Abiola at the international court, so that justice would be served.

Falana decried the high rate of poverty in the county, saying that it contradicted the legacy of Late Abiola.

“MKO Abiola’s campaign was anchored on farewell to poverty, today a 100milliin Nigerians live in abject poverty.

”We, therefore, need to rededicate ourselves to taking our people out of poverty, tackle the problem of insurgency, banditry and kidnapping by addressing the high rate of out-of-school children.

“Abiola stood for justice for all. All Nigerians must benefit from the resources of the nation, ” Falana said.

In his address,  retired Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, a former military administrator of Lagos State, said that Abiola would forever be remembered for his principles and for believing in true federalism.

“We are having so many problems today. Twenty one years after the death of MKO, we are still struggling to enthrone true federalism where every Nigerian will have a sense of belonging as a citizen.

”We urge the government to go back to how we became a country – a Federal Nigeria. That is the way forward, ”he said.

Also speaking,  Alhaji Mohammed Fawehinmi, son of the late Gani Fawehinmi, commended President Buhari for being sensitive to the plights of Nigerians.

Fawehinmi urged President Buhari to urgently constitute
his cabinet for a better