June 12: Activists call for true federalism
As pro-democracy and human rights groups marked the 24th anniversary of June 12 1993 presidential election yesterday, they have drew the attention of the Federal Government to “the urgent need to restructure the Nigerian federation.”
At the event which was tagged ‘June 12 Movement and the Hope of Equitable Restructuring for Nigeria,’ held at the Ikeja, Lagos residence of late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the winner of the annulled election, those in attendance noted that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is the only government that can find solution to June 12 demands and it has to be done urgently.
This was included in a communiqué signed by former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Senator Shehu Sani, Olawale Okunniyi (convener) and Chairman, Organizing Committee of 2017 June 12 anniversary, Olukayode Salako.
The communiqué reads in part: “Restructuring the Nigerian State into viable geo-political regions to contain the lingering acrimonious agitation from different sections of the country; Re-orientation and educating the general populace to appreciate and inculcate in them that we all need one another for a sustainable, just and equitable country.
“Immortalization of Moshood Abiola as a national icon of democracy, the National Stadium in Abuja should be named after him in accordance with the resolution of the 5th National Assembly, same with Eagle Square.”
They also called for the establishment of a national institute for democracy to be named after Abiola and said that history and Civic Studies should be made compulsory in our primary and secondary school curricula.
“Urgent reconstruction of our politics, economy, and minds towards emancipating a new Nigeria devoid of ethnicity, religiosity and all other parochial considerations, this will douse heightened agitations engineered by the political and economic overloads who benefit from inciting the people against one another; Youth and Women empowerment must be made an irrevocable priority in political governance of Nigeria.”
At another forum also held in Lagos to mark the day and organised by the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), notable Nigerians, including former governors of Abia and Lagos states, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu and Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd); National Coordinator of OPC, Otunba Gani Adams, Professor Sophie Oluwole; Dr Mrs. Joe Okei–Odumakin; Comrade Tony Uranta and others expressed great need to immortalize Abiola.
Kalu, who was the chairman of the event, described June 12 as “a symbol of democracy for the people of Nigeria irrespective of the ethnic group they belong,’ adding that Democracy Day should have been June 12 and not May 29.
Kanu on his part urged the Federal Government to consider the calls for restructuring as a way of moving Nigeria forward, saying, “if we fail to restructure Nigeria peacefully, we may have to do it the other way.”
Adams said the abandonment of June 12 by other regions in the country, apart from the Southwest is not good adding, “It is indeed sad that apart from the Southwest states of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos and Osun, which have doggedly continued to celebrate the hero, and later martyr of that battle, there has been studied indifference to the June 12 phenomenon by the Federal Government and remarkably, the rest of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, Hope for Niger Delta Campaign (HNDC), has urged Nigerians to emulate the politics of the presumed winner of the election, late Abiola by avoiding comments capable of disintegrating the nation.
President of the Netherland-based HNDC, Sunny Ofehe in a statement said that the quest to unite the nation through democratic dividends must be paramount rather than hate speeches.
According to him, “I don’t think Nigeria has learnt all the lessons that should have heralded the annulment of June 12 elections. The only major lesson learnt is the stability of our democracy and the fact that the military have stayed out of power.”