June 12 and its new false interpreters

June 12 and its new false interpreters

by Louis Odion

Never known to be in the habit of turning the proverbial other cheek, it is a big puzzle that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo chose to absorb a sucker punch of volcanic severity on June 12 last week without as much as a grunt. Babagana Kingibe had baited him with a charge of complicity in the high conspiracy that aborted June 12.

Not that we did not know that before.

But afraid that his old skeletons might be unearthed finally, ordinarily voluble and perennially crusading OBJ uncharacteristically retreated into a cowardly silence to a claim that, considering his assumed brotherhood with MKO, would sound very abominable indeed.

Baba has no comment, whispered his spokesman to inquisitive newshounds.

Well, as an aside, it is perhaps a measure of the ethical flux pervading the land today that Kingibe, otherwise a June 12 renegade himself, could permit himself the liberty to so question the former president in the first place.

Let it however be noted that OBJ’s ensuing silence is also strategic. Replying Kingibe would inevitably usher an even darker question. Following his release from Abacha gulag in June 1998, he, with MKO Abiola still alive, famously forswore the prospects of any presidential aspiration.

So, in dodging Kingibe’s pointed challenge, OBJ, a master of political chess game, surely demonstrates a possession of enough native intelligence to anticipate possible apocalypse.

Let us, as a mark of charity, even concede OBJ’s earlier misspeak in Harare in 1994 that “Abiola is not the messiah” was a foible of the head and not the heart.

Now, the more monumental poser of history still left unanswered in the last twenty-one years: would the “Ebora of Owu” swear by the most potent deity of his native land that never did he under any circumstance ever say “So, what happens to MKO?” at some point to the conniving generals pressuring him to accept a draft into the presidential race before Abiola’s mystery death on July 7, 1998?

The old witch wailed last night; the child died the morning after.

To be sure, this writer is not ashamed to confess a partisanship, even fanaticism, whenever and wherever June 12 resurrects. The sensitivity thus aroused is not just civic, but also professional. Some of us were living witnesses to the momentous events before, during and after June 12. I was a politics reporter with Concord Press (owned by MKO) through the 90s and knew first-hand what it meant to function under constant threat of military bullet or detention and yet labored for months on end without salary.

So, as conscientious bearer of national memory, we certainly know the real soldiers of fortune, the double agents, who sought to profiteer from the sacrifice of others. Just as we can distinguish the fake labour activists in funny costumes who chanted “Aluta” in daylight but cavorted with the evil generals at night as informants on the payroll. Another authentic June 12 hero, Frank Kokori, already said enough in last Saturday’s Vanguard to make the surviving ones among this category of traitors regret all the blood money they collected from the military in the 90s.

Indeed, as immortal Shakespeare forewarned, truth crushed to the earth shall rise again. And Sophocles added poetically, there is danger in unnatural silence.

But while the shrewd chicken farmer of Ota keeps a crafty silence under the circumstance, some of his political slaves would rather resort to rehabilitating history and falsefying accounts, obviously to impress their idol.

Without shame or fear, one of them, Doyin Okupe, even lied that it was the north that blocked OBJ from duly recognizing June 12 or formally acknowledging Abiola’s colossal sacrifice throughout his eight-year imperial reign.

Really? So, was he also told to cajole all the South-west states (except Lagos under Tinubu) to stop observing June 12 as public holiday in Abiola’s honour once his PDP “captured” the region from Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2003?

The truth is however imperishable: in his moment of power and glory, Obasanjo never seemed to realize that righting historical wrong is not a political favour to anyone, but a moral duty to community or country.

Already, the fact of his perfidy here has been corroborated by Ayo Fayose in a tell-all account published by The Interview magazine in 2017. As Ekiti governor in 2003 and one of the early beneficiaries of OBJ’s guerrilla politics, Fayose recalled he and other PDP governors in Osun, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun were coaxed by the then emperor of Aso Rock to worship only May 29 as part of a deliberate pagan rite to wipe June 12 from the nation’s memory.

Well, Okupe failed to clarify whether it was iron bar or raffia mat that was deployed to barricade OBJ from doing the needful on June 12. Were we to buy this argument, how ironic then that his master who couldn’t dare contemplate June 12 out of fear of the north, yet had the temerity to conceive and bid for treasonable Third Term that would have completely shut the zone out of contestation for presidential power for as long as it pleased OBJ.

But let it be said that the “north” cited couldn’t be that of Dangiwa Abubakar Umar, Shehu Sani, Mathew Hassan Kukah, Dan Suleiman, Jonah Jang and other men of conscience. Of course, the “north” the jobbing Okupe actually meant could only be that of now discredited generals who unchained OBJ from prison after Abacha’s demise and literally railroaded a fellow general to Aso Rock barely a year later.

The bug of revisionism afflicting Okupe would also appear to have infected Kola, the scion of the Abiola dynasty. The the word, outrage, perhaps best describes the reactions of many disciples of MKO to a slew of wild claims by Abiola’s heir in a Sun interview last week which tended to belittle the sacrifice made by others in defence of June 12 even as they inadvertently diminish the mystique of his illustrious dad.

Descending from the enigmatic Bashorun, Kola has, of course, always borne the yoke of high public expectation. Aside his muscular looks, it is rather difficult to identify his own talent. But it certainly can’t be oratory.

On the cusp of history at Aso Rock on June 12, 2018, for instance, Kola chose to delegate an epochal invitation to speak on behalf of the Abiola family to a more articulate Hafsat, his half-sister, after President Buhari’s formally declared June 12 a national monument and canonized his dad posthumously as GCFR.

Over the years, Kola has, at best, done very little or nothing to dispel the popular notion that he was at peace, even infatuated, with the very family the rest of us see as his dad’s chief enemy. (Some accounts even hinted marriage was on the cards.)

While boxing himself into such blissful detachment, he, therefore, would seem far removed to view reality like the rest of us.

So, when Kola then decided to come out of his shell and grant rare interview this year, we should have anticipated that a major disaster was about to unfold.

Well, NADECO activist and the revolutionary Army colonel, Tony Nyiam, has already gone a great length in another media reports to dispel the fallacy in the ridiculous claim that Tinubu only became radicalized into NADECO because Abacha refused to make him governor or commissioner in Lagos, to warrant dwelling further on that point.

Note, Nyiam cannot be called a Tinubu apologist. For he has consistently disagreed with Asiwaju since the latter teamed up with Buhari to found APC in 2014. But forthright Nyiam would not stand by and condone Kola’s crude revisionism against Tinubu because of today’s political difference. That would have amounted to a rape of history.

Nyiam is unlike Bode George, a grandpa who still relishes toddler’s fables and seems quite unaware of the shame – if not curse – in lying with hoary hair. Note, this “bread and butter” Admiral could not, in real terms, be counted among the generals who truly mattered then and his understanding of events was obviously shaped by hear-say from his master, Diya.

Perhaps, we should empathize with a man consistently worsted electorally in Lagos by Tinubu since 1999. He fancied a new career in politics after leaving the Navy on account of being the barefoot messenger of Dipo Diya who would later fall out of favour with their overall lord and master, despot Abacha. But despite all his desperate toil since, not once has BG been able to win even a polling unit in his ancestral Isale-Eko.

So, it is pointless attaching any weight to the words of the political eunuch of Lagos.

But, to me, even more disturbing is Kola’s reported allusion to Abiola’s high blood pressure. No one disputes that. His physician, Dr. Ore Falomo, already told us MKO had battled that medical condition for decades.

However, viewed against the certainly murky circumstances of Abiola’s sudden death on July 7, 1998, such unguarded comment by Kola will only profit those who would have the rest of us buy the juvenile fiction that MKO, who had endured four harrowing years in open grave called solitary confinement, suddenly became overwhelmed by excitement on the very eve of freedom, so much that he suffered cardiac arrest after sipping from a curious cup of tea offered by visiting American diplomats in a presidential lounge in Abuja.

In summary, illogical verbiage like this will only lend credence again to the notion held by some that Kola was perhaps too consumed by the hot pursuit of a love interest in Minna all through the 90s to have a clear understanding of what otherwise transpired right under his nose.

Credit: The Nation

The legend called M.K.O

The legend called M.K.O

By Yakubu Mohammed

Today marks the beginning of the celebration of Democracy Day on June 12. After about 25 years of ceaseless clamouring for the federal government to declare June 12 a national public holiday in honour of M.K.O Abiola almost to no avail, majority of Nigerians were astounded this time last year when, as if from the blues, President Muhammadu Buhari, formerly an unapologetic military dictator now a converted democrat, publicly recognised the injustice of the annulled June 12 election and took the bold and unprecedented step to rectify it.

So today has replaced May 29 as Democracy Day, which perhaps explains the lacklustre inauguration of the president some two weeks ago to commence his second term of office without the necessary pomp and panoply. Not even a word to fellow citizens, something to rouse them to a new sense of direction and some frenzy of patriotism.

May 29 has joined October 1, the country’s anniversary of independence, as mere footnotes in the national calendar. The debasing of the two hitherto very significant dates in our life is symptomatic of the honour we have decided to give to June 12 as a watershed in our democratic trajectory. For the first time we have had an unbroken 20 years of democratic practice, despite some of its glaring imperfections and some of its failures and foibles not to add the chicanery of its adherents.

But are they really its adherents? Some people will tell you to your face that we have democracy today without democrats. But that is beside the point. The fact is, mercifully, there are no gun-toting men on horseback, dictating the tune and running the affairs of the country. Today we can argue and debate and disagree, up to some point. Even in the media, especially in the unregulated social media, this democracy permits some licence to libel and defame and peddle obviously vile and pernicious wild rumour that can set the country ablaze.

We also have a handful of those who believe that this democracy is not complete without the free for all display of the power of the AK 47 by armed gangs going by the fearful nomenclature of bandits and kidnappers at home and on the highways and even at polling booths.

We also tend to believe that this current democracy can profit from some large dose of impunity and the impudence of reckless power, some bit of autocracy with some fascism looming large in many states. But this day, without any iota of doubt, is M.K.O Abiola’s day of glory. It is akin to Martin Luther King’s national holiday in America. Abiola is the single most important architect of the modern democracy. He won the June 12 presidential election in 1993 fair and square. But it was annulled. In pursuit of his mandate, he made the supreme sacrifice. The struggle to actualise that mandate, prolonged and sometimes vicious, eventually resulted in the return to democratic dispensation on May 29 1999 with political power ceded to the South West, the home region of Abiola.

That this democracy has endured for two decades and still counting is a testimony to the fact God has a hand in our affairs, despite our own obvious weaknesses and failures. But what lessons do we learn from the life and times of this great man, a true legend of our time?

As president Buhari said last year, we must all resolve to avoid the situation that led to the June 12 election fiasco. To do that we must all learn to live and play by the rules of the game. We must avoid a repeat of the litany of election inconclusiveness that we witnessed in the last elections.

Abiola might not have been a perfect human being or a perfect politician for that matter but his world views and personal examples synchronised very well with the true dictates of democracy and good governance with a premium on the well-being of the people.

Abiola left a legacy worthy of emulation by today’s leaders. His broad-mindedness was exceptional. So was his quality and practice of regarding every Nigerian, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, as a fellow compatriot worthy of trust and empathy. He was a true believer of merit and one’s worth, always inclined to give another man the benefit of the doubt.

Abiola might not have become president but his larger than life image came from his ability to triumph over base and primordial sentiments and an incredible sense of fellow feeling. I concluded that pen-portrait of this incredible Nigerian by saying he might not have been a very good politician – considering how very good Nigerian politicians are – he was definitely a good humanist, a man of the world who was courted by the high and the mighty.

Abiola, upclose
Very well known to the public is the fact that the man M.K.O was a typical grass- to- grace phenomenon. He was never shy to tell whoever cared to listen that like many Nigerians of modest background, he was born into abject poverty. Born on August 24 1937 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was the 23rd child of his father, Alhaji Alao Salawu Adenekan Abiola.

M.K.O, the brand that would later take the world by storm, was the first child of his father to survive, the first 22 having either died at birth or before they turned one year. His father, not one to succumb easily to fate, christened the new born-child Kashimawo – roughly translated to mean let’s wait and see.

His father lived long enough to see his son grow through poverty – drumming and dancing to pay school fees – to wealth, becoming the first Blackman to rise as the executive vice-president of ITT world-wide. Though he was stupendously rich, he did not allow that to enter his head. Philanthropy defined his life. He believed that the more he gave the more he had. But this man of legendry wealth was not unaware of his limitations. He had occasion to say: “I cannot give everybody money. I wish I could. And If I could, I would but I couldn’t. But I can give hope” And that was more lasting. The hope that Abiola gave was not the type given to Tantalus, unattainable, a mere mirage or a will-o’- de wisp. It was the hope that Nigerians missed by not having an Abiola presidency. What Nigerians missed also was his human touch, an incredible sense of empathy, feeling for others.

Though he could be brash when occasion called for it, but he couldn’t bear to see a fellow human being suffer. When there was a task to be performed he brooked no obstacle. No hurdle was too much for him to scale.

Now I ask: how many of our big men today would willingly give out their official cars to their paid staff to use on official assignment? Abiola would tell his captain to ferry any of his editors in his private jet for an assignment outside Lagos. I am an eye witness to his humility. On one occasion, I had the luxury of being flown, all alone, in his private jet to represent him at Enugu and, on another occasion, being flown with Dele Giwa, just the two of us, to attend a function in Abuja. That was the legend called M.K.O.

Credit: The Guardian

President Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech

President Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech

ADDRESS BY H.E PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE 2019 NATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY AT THE EAGLE SQUARE, ABUJA

12TH JUNE 2019

Protocols

All Praise is due to GOD Almighty Who spared our lives to be present at this great occasion. We give thanks also that the democratic process has been further entrenched and strengthened.

2. Twenty years ago, a democratically elected government took over from the military in a historic transfer of political power for our country.

3. Today, we are privileged to mark the longest period of unbroken democratic leadership and 5th peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another in Nigeria.

4. Throughout the last four years, I respected the independence of INEC. I ensured that INEC got all the resources it needed for independent and impartial management of elections in the country.

5. All interested parties are agreed that the recent elections, which except for pockets of unrest, were free, fair and peaceful.

6. I thank all the people who worked for our party, who campaigned and who voted for us. I thank my fellow Nigerians, who, since 2003 have consistently voted for me.

7. Victory is your greatest reward; peace, unity and greater prosperity will be our collective legacy.

Your Excellencies, Fellow Nigerians,

8. I and Nigerians collectively must give adequate thanks to our Armed Forces, Police and other law enforcing agencies for working round the clock to protect us by putting themselves in harm’s way and defending our values and protecting our future.

9. Terrorism and insecurity are worldwide phenomena and even the best policed countries are experiencing increasing incidents of unrest and are finding things hard to cope.

10. The principal thrust of this new Administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavors and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria.

11. Fellow Nigerians, I have had the privilege of free education from Primary school to Staff College to War College.

12. I received my formative education in Katsina and Kaduna and my higher education in England, India and the United States.

13. I have worked and served in Kaduna, Lagos, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Jos and finally here in Abuja. Throughout my adult life, I have been a public servant. I have no other career but public service. I know no service but public service.

14. I was involved at close quarters in the struggle to keep Nigeria one. I can therefore do no more than dedicate the rest of my life to work for the unity of Nigeria and upliftment of Nigerians.

15. In 2002-2003 campaigns and elections, I travelled by road to 34 of the 36 states of the Federation. This year I travelled by air to all 36 states of the Federation.

16. Before and during my time in the Armed Forces and in government, I have interacted with Nigerians of all ages and persuasions and different shades of opinion over a period of more than fifty years.

17. And my firm belief is that our people above all want to live in peace and harmony with their fellow Nigerians. They desire opportunity to better themselves in a safe environment.

18. Most of the instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still as a result of sponsorship or incitements by ethnic, political or religious leaders hoping to benefit by exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country.

19. And our country Nigeria is a great country. According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.

20. We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate. However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage.

21. What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.

22. A huge responsibility therefore rests on this and succeeding Administrations to develop, harness and fulfil our enormous potential into a force to be reckoned with globally.

23. Thus far, we Nigerians can be proud of our history since Independence in 1960. We have contributed to UN peace-keeping responsibilities all over the world; we have stabilized Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and two years ago we prevented the Gambia from degenerating into anarchy.

24. Without Nigerian influence and resources, the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and ultimately South Africa would have come at greater cost. This fact had been attested by none other than the late Nelson Mandela himself.

25. Elsewhere, Nigeria is the Big Brother to our neighbours. We are the shock-absorber of the West African sub-region, the bulwark of ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission. We can therefore be proud to be Nigerians. We must continue to be Good Neighbours and Good Global Citizens.

26. At home, we have been successful in forging a nation from different ethnicities and language groups: our evolution and integration into one nation continues apace.

27. When, therefore we came to office in 2015 after a decade of struggle we identified three cardinal and existential challenges our country faced and made them our campaign focus, namely security, economy and fighting corruption.

28. None but the most partisan will dispute that in the last four years we have made solid progress in addressing these challenges.

29. When I took the oath of office on 29 May 2015, insecurity reigned. Apart from occupying 18 local governments in the North East, Boko Haram could at will attack any city including the Federal Capital, could threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.

30. Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain in kidnappings and banditry in some rural areas. The great difference between 2015 and today is that we are meeting these challenges with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment and improved local intelligence. We are meeting these challenges with superior strategy, firepower and resolve.

31. In face of these challenges, our Government elected by the people in 2015 and re-elected in March has been mapping out policies, measures and laws to maintain our unity and at the same time lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and onto the road to prosperity.

32. This task is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population.

33. China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it.

34. With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

35. Following the 60 percent drop in oil prices between 2015 and 2016, through monetary and fiscal measures, we stimulated economic growth, curbed inflation and shored up our external reserves.

36. We now have witnessed 8 quarters of positive growth in the economy and our GDP is expected to grow by 2.7 percent this year.

37. Furthermore, our external reserves have risen to $45 billion enough to finance over 9 months of current import commitments.

38. This Administration is laying the foundation and taking bold steps in transforming our country and liberating our people from the shackles of poverty.

39. First, we will take steps to integrate rural economies to the national economic “grid” by extending access to small-scale credits and inputs to rural farmers, credit to rural micro-businesses and opening up many critical feeder roads.

40. Secondly, for small-scale enterprises in towns and cities, we shall expand facilities currently available so that we continue to encourage and support domestic production of basic goods and reduce our reliance of imported goods as I will outline later.

41. For the next four years, we will remain committed to improving the lives of people by consolidating efforts to address these key issues as well as emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities and dealing decisively with the new flashes of insecurity across the country, and the impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.

42. We are not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Instead, we are revived by this new mandate to work collaboratively with State and Local Governments, Legislators, the Diplomatic Corps and all Nigerians to rebuild and reposition our country as the heartbeat and reference point for our continent.

43. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen:

a. Despite the enormous resources pledged to infrastructure development these past four years, there remains the urgent need to modernize our roads and bridges, electricity grid, ports and rail systems.

b. Whilst agriculture and industrial output have recovered since the recession, we are more committed than ever to work with the private sector to improve productivity and accelerate economic growth.

c. The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country has also risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017 indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.

d. It still takes too long for goods to clear at our seaports and the roads leading to them are congested. It still takes too long for routine and regulatory approvals to be secured. These issues affect our productivity and we are committed to addressing them permanently.

e. Our Government will continue work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programs, education, technology and improved information.

f. Our social intervention programs are a model for other nations. Together with state governments, we provide millions of school children with meals in primary schools, micro loans to traders and entrepreneurs, skills and knowledge acquisition support to graduates and of course, conditional cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

g. A database of poor and vulnerable households is being carefully built based on age, gender, disability, educational levels for proper planning in this Administration’s war against poverty.

h. A database of unemployed but qualified youth has also been developed under the National Social Investment Programme which can be used by the public and private sectors for recruitment purposes. Cumulatively, nearly 2 million beneficiaries have received aid under this Programme apart from Anchors Borrowers Programme and School Feeding initiative each reaching 2 million recipients. And we will do more. Much more.

44. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, we know that there exists a strong correlation between economic inequality and insecurity.

45. When economic inequality rises, insecurity rises. But when we actively reduce inequality through investments in social and hard infrastructure, insecurity reduces.

46. The disturbing increase in rates of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities can be attributed to the decades of neglect and corruption in social investment, infrastructure development, education and healthcare.

47. This issue is further compounded by the impact of our changing climate and ecology.

48. The ECOWAS and Sahel regions, starting from Chad all the way to Mali, are also experiencing adverse impacts of drought and desertification, which have triggered waves of human displacement; conflicts between farmers and herdsmen; terrorism; and a fundamental socio-economic change to our way of life.

49. These issues are regional and not unique to Nigeria alone. The problems call for increased regional and international cooperation in developing a sustainable solution.

50. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I will be hosting a regional security summit of heads of states in the Sahel to develop a Joint Strategy to continue our efforts in addressing these issues.

51. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, at the heart of inequality and insecurity, is pervasive corruption. When we took office we realised that if you fight corruption, corruption will fight back – and we have seen this at all levels.

52. For Nigeria to progress, a collective resolution to address corruption and foster broad-based prosperity is required to create a country that is not only for a few privileged, but for all Nigerians.

53. This charge is not only to Civil Servants, Ministers, Legislators and State Government functionaries, but also to Corporate leaders.

54. We shall make greater investments in our rural economies. We shall aggressively source locally our raw materials.

55. We have incentives for investments specifically made in rural communities.

56. However, nationwide development cannot occur from Abuja alone; it must occur at States. And Government cannot do it alone.

57. I therefore implore all State Governments, especially those with large rural economies, to aggressively solicit investments in your states. Invest in developing human capital, reducing bureaucracy and corruption, hosting and attending investment summits and improving the ease of doing business.

58. At this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists who have built or are building agro-processing projects; petrochemical plants; crude oil and solid mineral refineries; energy exploration; software development projects; telecom infrastructure; health, education and manufacturing projects; and the like, across our country.

59. I would like to make special mention to promoters of our small businesses that are proudly making goods and services for export and for local consumption. The Nigerian economy rises and falls on the strength of your investments and productivity.

60. We will continue to listen to your ideas and plans not just about how we can secure more investment, but how your plans can help create a more equitable economy.

61. I also thank the labour unions, farmer groups and associations, organized private sector and the civil society organisations for their support and cooperation with our government these last four years.

62. We will continue to count on your support, guidance and understanding during the next four years.

63. I especially thank our traditional leaders and congratulate re-elected and newly elected State Governors and members of the National Assembly. Our Government will continue to count on your support so that we can together move our country forward.

64. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, despite the challenges over the last four years, my optimism about Nigeria’s future is unshaken and Nigeria’s role in the world as an emerging economic force is without a doubt.

65. Over the next four years, we are committed to assembling a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.

a. We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary reform, in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.

b. We will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of our medical personnel to stem the flight of our best trained people.

c. On food security, our farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame. We remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.

d. Felling of trees to provide energy for domestic use is taking its toll on our rain forests, our ecology and our climate. Accordingly, we are taking steps to harness cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity. We export over 2 million tons of cooking gas, yet we consume less than half a million tons.

e. We will work to address this issue and support rural communities with challenges of safely switching from firewood to cooking gas.

f. Dedicated agro-industrial processing zones will be developed on a PPP basis to increase farming yields, agricultural productivity and industrial output.

g. Over 2,000 kilometers of ongoing Federal road and bridge projects across the country will be completed to reduce journey times and the cost of doing business. As I mentioned earlier, critical feeder roads will be built to facilitate easier transportation for people and goods from rural areas to major roads.

h. We are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand our transmission and distribution infrastructure, ensuring that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians.

i. Several rail, seaport and airport projects are at various stages of completion. We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.

j. It is a fact that Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has oil. Over the last four years, we have become a net exporter of urea, which is made from natural gas. We invite investors to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects.

k. Fellow Nigerians, This Government will not tolerate actions by any individual or groups of individuals who seek to attack our way of life or those who seek to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We will crack down on those who incite ordinary innocent people to violence and unrest.

l. We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.

66. Nation building takes time. But we must take solace in the knowledge that this country, our country, has everything we require to make Nigeria prosper.

67. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to join me in this journey of rebuilding our nation.

68. Our focus will not be to help the privileged few but to ensure that Nigeria works for Nigerians of all persuasions. That is a more just arrangement.

69. As we all know, correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity. As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and invested the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe with National Honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential elections of that year.

70. Today, I propose the re-naming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called MOSHOOD ABIOLA NATIONAL STADIUM.

71. In my first term, we put Nigeria back on its feet. We are working again despite a difficult environment in oil on which we depend too much for our exports. We encountered huge resistance from vested interests who do not want CHANGE, But CHANGE has come, we now must move to the NEXT LEVEL.

72. By the Grace of God, I intend to keep the oath I have made today and to serve as President for all Nigerians.

73. I thank you for attending this august occasion from far and near, and for all your best wishes to me, to our party and to Nigeria.

74. God bless us all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abiola’s Family Blasts Obasanjo Over June 12

Abiola’s Family Blasts Obasanjo Over June 12

MKO Abiola, sitting middle, Obasanjo standing right during their school days in Abeokuta

By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO

Family of the president-elect in the June1993 election, late Chief MKO Abiola yesterday berated former president Olusegun Obasanjo for refusing to recognise that their patriarch (late Abiola) won the election which was adjudged to be the freest in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.

The family said the former president ignored sacrifices of late MKO and his wife Alhaja Kudirat Abiola because they are from the same Ogun state.

The Abiola’s family particularly regretted that Obasanjo who benefited from the struggle of late Abiola and his late wife, Alhaja Kudirat ignored the sacrifices of the couple which contributed immensely to the country’s return to democratic rule.

Son of late MKO Abiola and Kudirat Abiola, Alhaji Jamiu Abiodun Abiola while ‘testimony of change’ yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja noted that it took President Muhammadu Buhari who did not benefit from the struggle of late Abiola to recognise is election as president in June 1993.

“I am the son of late Moshhod and Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, more than two decades ago, Nigerians came out and gave my father mandate across the entire country in recognition of his good deed, but unfortunately for him he was prevented from becoming the President and he was later killed, and also my mother Alhaja Kudirat who stood with him, organised rallies when he was imprisoned and organised meetings even at 2am in the morning, of course, we all know what happened and how she was killed. Unfortunately for us, we felt another government would honour the sacrifices made by both of them when democracy is restored.

“But the man who became president after my father’s demise, Chief Olusegun Obasanjọ, who benefited from the blood and sacrifices of my both parent, refused to honour my father just because he is from the same state with my father.

“At the end of the day, it took the great messiah, my messiah, President Muhammadu Buhari who is not from Ogun state, who is not Yoruba and was not a beneficiary of my father’s struggle to honour my father and to acknowledge the fact that he won the election,” he said.

Credit: Leadership