As a graduate of the University of Ibadan (UI), I get into talks with students from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), University of Lagos, and the University of Ilorin, discussing which is the best university in Nigeria. My schoolmates will say UI is the first and best, but on our bad days, we may lose the rankings to any of these schools, but we always console ourselves by saying “no matter what happens, UI will always be the first university in Nigeria”. This is the story of Muhammadu Buhari and the June 12 memorial.
In 1999, Obasanjo became the democratically elected president of Nigeria, and the biggest beneficiary of the MKO years. I remember the likes of Gani Fawehinmi, true-and-true Abraham Adesanya, even Gbenga Adeboye of blessed memory, speaking to June 12 and the need to immortalise the sacrifices of Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. Obasanjo refused. Yesterday — the second greatest June 12 in Nigeria’s history– Muhammadu Buhari put history in order, and set his name in stone forever.
Love him or loathe him, Buhari has made his name as the first and the best, anywhere the honour due Abiola is discussed. Goodluck Jonathan tried to change UNILAG to Moshood Abiola University, but the move failed woefully. Buhari’s plan was a masterstroke. The kind of political dexterity that one may not believe can be found in the President. To keep the moment in gold, Bayo Omoboriowo, the genius behind the lens got the picture above, and many others, to show another soft side of the president. No matter how much June 12 is edited, Buhari remains the king of doing the right thing for June 12 among his peers.
DARIYE AS A SHINING GEM ON BUHARI’S JUNE 12 CROWN
While we were away at the June 12 investiture, Adebukola Banjoko, the judge of the FCT High Court, sentenced Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau state and serving senator of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to 16 years in prison without the option of fine.
Things to note: Dariye is a serving senator, a former governor, and a member of the All Progressives Congress. Though he became governor under the umbrella of the People Democratic Party, and won his senate seat with the Labour Party, he joined the APC after Buhari won, but the broom could not save him from the rod of justice.
No better time to slam the rod on a serving senator than a day like this historic June 12. As the tenets of democracy are being held up high, the signals of justice are waving high in the skies for all to see. All the ex-governors and current senators or house of reps members, who have jumped into the APC for safety, can expect the law to come after them.
From Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba state, to Joshua Dariye, another former governor, the heat on the anti-corruption war just gained leaps of credibility. If the PDP says anything against this war, the APC, with Nigerians behind them will point to Dariye as an example.
No doubt, Dariye is a shinning gemstone on Buhari’s newly acquired June 12 pro-democracy crown.
ADADEVOH AND THE ONE THING LEFT UNDONE
In 2014, after Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh gave her life to keep Nigeria safe from the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), she was expected to get a national honour, but she was conspicuously omitted.
In its defence, the Jonathan presidency — via Doyin Okupe — said the award cannot be given posthumously. Buhari has shown that the claim made by the Jonathan presidency is untrue.
Therefore, there is one thing left undone — a recognition of Adadevoh’s immense sacrifice. To her, a national honour is due.
SOMEBODY TELL AMBODE
Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, definitely has one heck of a statue maker. This artist must have coughed millions out of the state, and has shown the same kind of work — less than good. Complaints trailed the statue made for Obafemi Awolowo, the one with the small head and big shoes. When the state apologists were going to spin it, they claimed the big shoes were deliberate, that Awo left shoes too big for anyone to fill. OK.
Later, it was Gani Fawehinmi’s statue, replaced and renewed with a bigger and golden Fawehinmi. This was seen as a good step in some sense. But a bad one artistically, the previous statue was more of Fawehinmi than the new. The new Fawehinmi is sad, has a swollen mouth and is bending towards a particular side.
Trust the boys to spin this one too; they say Fawehinmi was sad at the state of the nation and injustice in the land, then they add that he was bending towards the sides of justice. What a spin.
On June 12, 2018, the silver jubilee of the June 12 struggle, another statue was unveiled in honour of MKO Abiola. But this statue came to clear all doubts, that this mediocrity is no longer a fluke. The makers of this art cannot do better!
Speaking about the statue, Ambode said: “There was a statue done by my predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola but in the divine world, some things are more glorious than what you think and so we decided at the end of 2016 that we should do bigger statues for Chief Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiola since almost everybody passing and entering Lagos go through this particular Ojota axis”.
“And so we started late in 2016 that we should build something bigger and so it took us about a year to do this.”
Somebody tell the governor; it is not enough to erect bigger statues, we have to get them right. The people coming into Lagos would see your statue of MKO and still ask, who is that? We see statues in other parts of the world, and we know who they are immediately, no questions asked.
Rochas Okorocha may be many things, but his statue guy sure knows how to mould better — in semblance of the persons he’s aiming to mould. When you see Okorocha’s Zuma, you can tell its Zuma. Lagos has to leave with us sculptures of heroes worthy of them.
Today, history looks great on President Muhammadu Buhari, but those statues look bad on governor Ambode.
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