The activists repeated the call at the 19th anniversary of the death of Abiola, at a programme organised by Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA), held at his graveside in Ikeja. They also urged the government to give the late business mogul and politician a post-humous recognition as the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Many regard the election as the freest and fairest presidential election in the history of Nigeria. Abiola, after the annulment of the election by the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida, insisted on his mandate and declared himself president a year later, leading to his arrest by the then military government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
He died four years later in custody on the verge of being released by Abacha’s successor, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar. Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of WA, said 19 years after his death, Nigerians want his post-humous recognition as president of Nigeria for his portrait to be displayed among past Nigerian presidents and Heads of State.
“We also demand the gazette of June 12 election results as belatedly declared by Humphery Nwosu. “We demand the incumbent administration to immediately consider the immortalization of Abiola by renaming a key national Institution or infrastructure in his name.
“We demand a judicial commission of inquiry to unravel how the high treason was carried out in custody. “Finally, we demand the immediate restructuring of Nigeria into proper federation to douse the agitations that have engulfed the country following the escalation of the nationality question occasioned by the annulment,’’ Okei-Odumakin said.
A former military governor of Imo and Lagos States, Rear Adm. Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), also called for the immortalization of Abiola and the restructuring of Nigeria into a proper federation.
“Let us all know that 19 years after, Abiola’s spirit still lives and is very active; Abiola should be immortalized,’’ Kanu said. Abdulmumini Abiola, the youngest son of Abiola, urged Nigerians to take their destiny in their hands. “My father tried his best and today here he is lying dead; why do we continue to listen to the people that put us in this state that we are right now?
“Nineteen years after my father’s death, they are not better off. We need a paradigm change in this country and that is why we must take our destiny into our hands,’’ he said. Mr Emeka Ugoji, President concerned Nigeria and Professional Forum, described Abiola as an entrepreneur with a social conscience.
“Abiola was an entrepreneur with a social conscience; 19 years after, we remember that he was the greatest entrepreneur Nigeria ever produced. Other entrepreneurs should emulate him,’’ Ugoji said. Other speakers at the event include Mr Rasheed Owonifari, Head of Finance and Administration for Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) and Mr Abdul Usman Bako, President Campaign for Democracy.
NAN recalls that former President Goodluck Jonathan, while in office had in 2012 renamed the University of Lagos after Abiola, but the change was met with protests by the students and alumni of the institution. It also became a subject of litigation and the decision could not gain ground until the renaming was reversed.