By Lucy Osuizigbo
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Monday urged Nigerians to keep the spirit of June 12 alive and strong by remaining united and hopeful of a more prosperous future for the country.
Ambode, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, made the call at an event organised to mark the 24th anniversary of the June 12, 1993 annulled presidential election.
It was organised by the State’s Office of Civic Engagement in collaboration with June 12 Coalition for Democratic Formations in Lagos.
The 1993 presidential election, adjudged free and fair, but annulled by the then military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, was believed to have been won by Chief Moshood Abiola.
Abiola insisted on his mandate and declared himself president, which led to his arrest and subsequent death on the verge of his release on July 7, 1998.
Ambode believes the seed for the fourth republic and democracy witnessed since 1999 was sown and watered by the blood of Chief Abiola and others.
He urged Nigerians, as they marked the June 12 anniversary, to must remain committed and steadfast in upholding democratic principles by participating in democratic processes such as the voters registration exercise.
The governor also charged the citizenry to vote for their choice candidates at the polls, and avoid anything that could disrupt peaceful conduct of free, fair and credible election.
“That way, we will be keeping the spirit of June 12 alive,” he said.
Ambode pledged that his administration would continue to uphold democratic principles, rule of law, strengthen democratic institutions as well as implement policies that would enhance the well-being of the people.
In his address, Rear Adm. Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), a former Military Administrator of Lagos state, said June 12, 1993 was a day Nigerians from all parts of the country were united in their choice of a leader.
Kanu attributed the current challenges and agitations in the country to the lack of true federalism.
“The happenings in our nation today can only be salvaged if we restructure – which is a return to a federation of different peoples.
“It is in the best interest of every section of the country if Nigeria works well.
“It is either we peacefully go back to a federal Nigeria, a federation of different people who want to live and move together, or we must be prepared for an unfortunate avoidable non-peaceful resolution,” Kanu said.
In his lecture entitled `Development Strategy in Lagos State: A Blue Print for National Development’, Dr Dele Ashiru said that development was not only about economic growth but the quality of life of the people.
Ashiru, who is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, said development was also about rule of law, inclusiveness, accountability, power to the people and the dividends of democracy.
“With problems of militancy, terrorism, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, corruption and others, we can say that Nigeria is yet to experience true democracy and development that MKO Abiola and others died for.
“Lagos state government should be commended for upholding the principles of democracy by ensuring that its economic development benefits the people.
“Other governments should emulate Lagos and bring the country out of the several challenges confronting it,” Ashiru said.
Mr Mumuni Abiola, one of the sons of late MKO Abiola, commended Lagos state government and its other counterparts in the South-West for keeping the memory and legacy of his father alive.
He urged governments at all levels to work toward a unified Nigeria where the yearnings of Nigerians for a free and prosperous country would be met.
In his remarks, Mr Kehinde Joseph, Special Adviser to Gov. Ambode on Civic Engagement, said that June 12 was worthy of commemoration as it remained a defining moment of the nation’s current democratic dispensation.
According to him, it entrenched democracy in Nigeria and enhanced the well-being of the people.