By Eniola Daniel
National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the umbrella body of the pro-democratic forces that fought the military power to a standstill over the annulment of presidential mandate of late Chief MKO Abiola (MKO) has praised President Muhammadu Buhari for finally declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, 25 years after the 1993 election.
Although, NADECO maintained silence over not being invited to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja where Abiola, and other heroes of June 12 were formally honoured posthumously by the Federal Government yesterday, it said it welcomed the long awaited but pleasant pronouncement of June 12 as the most authentic Democracy Day over the May 29, and even over the October 1 Independence Day.
Speaking during the 25 anniversary of the June 12 1993 election in Lagos yesterday, General-Secretary of the coalition, Ayo Opadokun said the Independence Day and May 29 are mere symbolic days of handover, the first being the political change over of baton from the imperialist and colonial overlord, which deliberately forced the coupling of many different heterogeneous people into what they called Nigeria, while the second was the day the Nigerian military handed over power to one of their bosses, former president, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd).
According to Opadokun, “NADECO cannot but welcome with satisfaction President Buhari’s courageous announcement in spite of the criticisms emanating mainly from the major opposition political party in the country.”The reaction is expected and could be understood in that the leading one, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is regretting that while it governed Nigeria for 16 years, it remained insensitive to the popular demands for justice to be done to the late President-Elect, Bashorun MKO Abiola.
“Much more worrisome was that, the immediate and greatest beneficiary of martyrdom, Chief Obasanjo who was foisted on Nigerians by the military power deliberately ignored all appeals to close the chapter of military’s disrespect to the popular will of the Nigerian people as expressed on June 12, 1993 which results have been officially announced at all the wards, local governments, and state levels of collations, which confirmed Abiola’s victory.”
Opadokun also lampooned erstwhile president Obasanjo over his flippant comment at the swearing in of President Nelson Mandela of South Africa in 1994, where he (Obasanjo) said Abiola was not the messiah Nigerian people needed.” Explaining how NADECO has remained resolute and committed to actualisation of the June 12 mandate, Opadokun said, “The coalition in its official inaugural statement on May 15, 1994 made some categorical demands from late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha’s that the military junta should de-annul the victory recorded by Abiola by respecting the popular will Nigerians expressed during the presidential election of June 12, 1993.
“That the military should convene a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) composed mainly of ethnic nationalities, which were the building blocks upon which Nigeria was coupled together and which negotiated for a federal constitutional arrangement so that the warped, lopsided and skewed national structure which enabled a motley crowd of corrupt military jackboot to disrespect Nigerians fundamental rights to elect who they prefer to govern them could be amicably righted and corrected through mutual dialogue and to show respect for the individual nationalities and groups desire as to how they wanted to govern their lives.
“That June 12 represented the authentic Democracy Day because that was the day when Nigerians of all different persuasions decided to bury the dubious national divides of North/South, Christian/Muslim, ethnic and or tribal affiliations to vote for either Bashorun MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, SDP who got over eight million votes, and won in 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory or Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republic Convention (NRC) who got over six million votes and won in 10 states. Over 14 million people voted. The result as already announced publicly at the various levels particularly at the state level.”
While also commending the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for taking the bold step to declare June 12 as Democracy Day, Opadokun sated: “If the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida had not annulled the victory of Abiola, the major gains of national unity, which 1993 presidential mandate demonstrated could have assisted Nigerians to be ready to claim and defend the country. This was because the victory was a defeat of the major dubious national divides, which the elite have always exploited for their selfish advantages. But the annulment killed that prospect and so we are yet to be a nation that our founding fathers jointly hoped for.”
He however urged President Buhari to take a bold step further by accepting the popular will being expressed by majority of Nigerians that the country should return to federal constitutional arrangement. He stressed: “This demand is proven by the fact that until the unfortunate military insurrection against democratic government on January 15, 1966 is reversed Nigeria will continue to have unresolved challenges.
According to him, “The Regional Governments were relatively productive and responding creditably to the genuine wishes and aspirations of their peoples. Return to Federalism should not be in accordance with a partisan predilection but as approved by the people genuinely elected by them not chosen by government and not by a compromised legislature like the current National Assembly.
“Centralization of the vital public sector by various decrees and the appropriations of all the regional major means of raising resources to the central government has crippled the component units since then. Most states now depend on the monthly allocations to run the over bloated bureaucracies.
“Therefore, Nigeria should stop living a lie by calling itself a federation when it is in fact being governed centrally”.NADECO also demanded that the erstwhile chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC), Prof. Humphrey Nwosu sould be recalled on emergency for the purposes of formal declaration of the final result of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, adding that the Nigerian State should formerly inaugurate post humously Abiola as president of the country.
NADECO also demanded that a national monument of consequence be named after Abiola not for mischievous reason of wanting to present him as a regional leader like former President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to achieve when he renamed University of Lagos after the late business mogul during his tenure.Other NADECO leaders present at the event were Chairman of the group, Rear Admiral Ndubusi Kanu (Rtd), Mrs. Tokunbo Ajasin and Jumoke Anifowose; Emeka Ugochi, former Chairman, Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Mr. Ayodele Adewale, Michael Popoola Ajayi, Japheth Adesanya and others.