Scores of activists gathered at the tomb of the late Moshood Kashimao Abiola, MKO, on Tuesday to mark the 17th anniversary of his demise in the hands of the military junta on 7 July, 1998.
The event organised by the Campaign for Democracy, CD, and the Women Arise Initiative had in attendance former Military Governor of Lagos and leader of the defunct National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Ndubuisi Kanu; former President, Nigeria Bar Association, Priscilla Kuye; Comrade Femi Aborishade; Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by Mrs Idowu Obasa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources; Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Abdul Abiola, among others.
The activists engaged in few minutes walk in honour of Abiola and they chanted dirge and other songs in memory of the deceased after which they gathered at Abiola’s graveside to eulogise his qualities.
Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, National President, CD, said Abiola displayed uncommon courage, unparalleled dignity and unusual candour in defence of the mandate reposed in him by change-seeking Nigerians who trooped out to vote for him in on June 12, 1993 and engaged all the illegal regimes that held sway while the legal president was languishing in jail.
“Seventeen years after his elimination, President Abiola still stands tall than all his adversaries and his murderers. He represents what Nigeria is capable of being but which we are not because of the machinations of a greedy cabal,” she said.
Okei-Odumakin said CD demanded that the June 12 election result as belatedly declared by Humphrey Nwosu be gazetted while there should be post-humous recognition for Abiola as President of Nigeria and that his portrait be displayed among past Nigerian presidents and heads of state.
“President Buhari must give effect to the resolution of the past Senate that Abuja National Stadium be named after Abiola and a judicial commission of inquiry be set up to unravel how the high treason was carried out in custody,” she said.
Speaking, Kanu said Abiola represented hope for the Nigerian people, saying that he would have taken the nation to greater heights if he was crowned president.
Also, Abiola-Costello, daughter of the late business mogul, said her father sacrificed all for the nation at the expense of the suffering of his family, adding that the family he left behind were now suffering because of the decision his father took not to be a traitor if he had betrayed the mandate accorded him by the people then.
“He lost his life because he did not want to betray his people. We accept all the suffering we go through. Your family (Abiola) suffers in your absence. Nigeria can’t be great if people did not suffer for the nation,” she said.
According to her, the lesson to be learnt from June 12 is for the nation to abolish poverty which her father sought to exterminate, but lamented that the nation’s political leaders were busy fighting themselves for positions instead of tackling poverty.
“We have about 4.5 million refugees today because of Boko Haram. Now is the time for our leaders to sacrifice all for the nation,” she said.
Speaking, Ambode said any government not fighting to eradicate poverty was part of those who killed Abiola, adding that the government of Lagos State established the Ministry of Employment and Job Creation to tackle poverty.
Also, Femi Aborishade said the lessons to learn from June 12 was for the nation’s leaders to rededicate themselves to the ideals of service and tackling poverty which was what Abiola stood for.
Kuye on her part lamented the mess in the nation, saying if Abiola had been allowed to rule the nation, things would have been different as poverty would have been abolished.