Yoruba, Ndigbo, Arewa call for re-awakening of ‘June 12 spirit’ for Nigeria to progress

TRADITIONAL rulers and notable leaders of thought in the South-West, South-East and Northern Nigeria have called for the reawakening of the “June 12 spirit” in order for the country to make meaningful progress.

The call was made by the Ekefa Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Lekan Alabi; the Eze Ndigbo of Oyo State, Dr Alex Anozie; head of Nupe Community in Ibadanland, Alhaji Shehu Ibrahim; the Seriki Ebira of Ibadanland, Lamidi Aliu Balogun; the Mogaji of Adegboro Compound in Ibadan, Professor Aderemi Raji-Oyelade, who is a former Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan; and the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, Mr Ademola Babalola.

They all spoke at an event marking the second celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria, organised by the Oyo State NUJ and Chief Lekan Alabi, who is the former secretary-general of the M.K.O. Abiola Dynamic Group and the first Culture Ambassador of the National Museums and Monument, Ile-Ife.

The event, which was held at the NUJ Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan, on Friday, also featured the public presentation of a book titled ‘June 12: Lest We Forget’, written by Chief Alabi and reviewed by Professor Raji-Oyelade.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2018 designated June 12 as Democracy Day in honour of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

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Alabi noted that Abiola paid the supreme price for the democracy that the country has been enjoying for the past 21 years without any break, and the sort of spirit that Nigerians had then which made them vote en masse for Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, without any emphasis on religion and ethnicity should be reenacted for a better future for the nation.

According to Eze Ndigbo of Oyo State, Dr Anozie, “the annulment of June 12 presidential election was one of the worst things that have ever happened to Nigeria because it was injustice in its totality.”

He stated that religion and ethnicity should not be a problem in Nigeria under normal circumstances and that if June 12, 1993, presidential election was allowed to stay, it would have been the best thing to have happened in Nigeria’s history.

A nephew to MKO Abiola, Alhaji Sufi Kazeem, also noted that the voting pattern for 1993 presidential poll was unity across the country, adding that Abiola tried his best by using his wealth and connections worldwide to bring unity to Nigeria.

Oyo NUJ chairman, Ademola Babalola, described Abiola as a man of many parts, who contributed “immensely” to the media industry in the country as a detribalised Nigerian.

“In 1993, Nigerian put aside tribalism and sentiment and voted for the candidate of their choice as president but the election was later set aside. He was a philanthropist who touched the lives of many Nigerians,” Babalola said.

He commended President Buhari for immortalising Abiola, calling on Yoruba leaders and traditional rulers to come together to restore Yoruba race to its pride of place.

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