South-west states commemorate June 12

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Oyo states in Western Nigeria have set aside Monday as a public holiday to commemorate the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The late Chief Moshood Abiola was regarded by some, to have won the election.

The election was nullified by the then military government of Ibrahim Babangida.

The Lagos State Government on Sunday joined Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Oyo states to  declare Monday as a public holiday to mark the June 12 anniversary.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode,  in a statement, said the state remained committed to the ideals of the annulled 1993 Presidential election, describing June 12 as the real Democracy Day in Nigeria.

Ambode said 24 years after, the ideals of June 12 were still worth celebrating, describing the day as one of the most defining moments of the country’s political history, which had positively shaped its democracy.

The Governor  urged Nigerians  to go beyond the commemoration and strive to entrench a viable democracy, stressing that the way to immortalize the late winner of that election is through the practice of true federalism and conduct of credible and fair elections.

“We owe it a duty to genuinely immortalise the fallen heroes of the June 12 struggle nationally and deepen our democratic values to ensure that never again will such anti-people action be allowed to take place,” he said.

Democracy Walk

Meanwhile, in Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun will lead the annual ‘Democracy Walk from the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta to Abiola’s home.

The walk is expected to take participants through major roads in the state capital to the Abiola family homestead, at Oke-Ido, Gbagura, Abeokuta where special prayers and speeches will be made.

This will be followed by inspirational stage play, ‘Oju Kelekun’ (farewell to reproach), directed by Prof. Bakare Ojo Rasaki, also to be featured at the June 12 Cultural Centre, later in the day.

On his part, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said the public holiday became imperative in view of the fact that June 12, 1993 marked a watershed in the history of democratic evolution in the country.

“June 12, 1993 presidential election was a day an election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria took place”, he said.

Similarly, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu said the late Abiola’s supreme sacrifice culminated in the hurried departure of the military from the political scene in 1999.

He urged politicians across the country to always demonstrate their love for the country.

As part of programmes lined up to celebrate the day, the state government has organized a lecture, with the theme: “June 12: A celebration of courage and resilience.”

In a related development, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state said the anniversary was also in recognition and honour of the martyrdom of Chief Abiola, who laid down his life for Nigerians to enjoy the democratic dividends of today.

Surprisingly, the Ekiti State Governor , Ayodele Fayose also declared Monday a public holiday in honour of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

In a statement issued on Sunday in Ado Ekiti , Fayose, a member of the opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party said he took the decision to join his other colleagues in the South West in the spirit of the unity of the region .

“Yoruba nation’s interest is beyond personal interest of anyone. For us to forge ahead as a people , we must speak with one voice.

In the light of this , I declare Monday a public holiday to further strengthen our collective belief, hope and aspirations. ”

Omolayo.A