July 7 marks the 22nd anniversary of the murder of Chief MKO Abiola, the man popularly elected by Nigerians as president on June 12, 1993.
Abiola was eliminated after spending over four years in incarceration just because of his blunt refusal to compromise his principled belief that a mandate freely and enthusiastically given by over 14 million Nigerians cannot be overturned by military fiat.
Abiola displayed uncommon courage, unparalled dignity, and unusual candour in his staunch defence of the mandate given him by change-seeking Nigerians who, after trooping out to massively vote for him in 1993, had also engaged all the illegal regimes that held sway while the legal president languished in jail.
Twenty-two years after his elimination, Abiola still stands taller than all his adversaries and murderers.
He represents what Nigeria is capable of being but which we were denied because of the machinations of a greedy cabal fearful of the real CHANGE that Abiola not only promised but also typified.
All the troubles of Nigeria, which Abiola’s victory was meant to abolish, are the very shenanigans threatening the corporate existence of this country today.
A country that gleefully elected a Muslim/Muslim ticket, would not hear of such today as it has become badly fractured along regional and religious divides.
Today, we remember MKO in the midst of insurgency ruins, Chibok and Dapchi abductions among many others too numerous to mention, with people daily burying their dead in the innumerable harvests of death.
Abiola’s memory challenges us to end these and many other acts of terror that not only dehumanize us but also depreciate our human capital stock in the comity of nations.
We therefore enjoin Nigerians to continue to insist on the following demands from their rulers:
i. The posthumous recognition of Abiola as President of Nigeria and for his portrait to be displayed amongst those of past Nigerian presidents and heads of State.
ii. A judicial commission of enquiry to unravel how the high treason of the murder of MKO Abiola was carried out while he was in the custody of the Nigerian State.
iii. Restructuring of Nigeria, which has become the only exercise that can stall and reverse the fragmentation of the country.
We therefore also call on Nigerians, irrespective of creed, race, religious inclination or affiliation, to re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of the struggle for genuine democracy birthed by credible elections.
Entrenching the true spirit of June 12, which is free and fair elections, is the best way to immortalize MKO.
In conclusion, we salute the memory of MKO Abiola, whose election was clean, free and fair and was so adjudged by local and international observers.
As we salute the memory of MKO Abiola, we call for an end to political manipulations that have hallmarked most elections before and after that of June 12, 1993.
In the same way, we call for the restoration of MKO’s political agenda to emancipate the downtrodden and long-suffering Nigerian masses as the true objective of real democracy and true measure of national Independence.
Dr. Joe-Okei-Odumakin Dr. Hafsat Abiola-Costello
President, Women Arise President, KIND.