Sunday, June 12, 2016 3:24 pm
Twenty-three years after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the late Moshood Kashimao Olawale (MKO) Abiola, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, former Lagos Military Administrator, Ndubuisi Kanu and the Convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), Ayo Opadokun have agitated the need for true federalism in the country as a panacea out of the problems confronting the nation.
The trio spoke at the 23rd Anniversary of June 12, organized by the Lagos State Office of Civic Engagement held at the Lagos Television Ground, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Sunday.
According to Ambode, the ideal of June 12 was that of true federalism, which he said was currently lacking in the nation and that there was the urgent need to embrace true federalism so that things could take proper shape in the nation.
Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello said June 12 was a day “we must continue to remember because we have been practicing democracy; at the end of the day, we are not actually doing what we should be doing. If you look at the topic of today, it says Democracy and its Inclusiveness, what we have today, we still have a long way to go, and that is to say that we are not practicing true federalism.
“What we owe Nigeria today is nothing but true federalism and for us to be able to achieve true federalism, we have to work hard for it. We still have a long way to go. If you want to live by Abiola’s memory, if you want to honour him, we owe him a duty to ensure that we install a viable democracy and that viable democracy can only be installed if we have true federalism which we are presently not practicing, and that is very important,” Ambode said.
According to the governor, “for us in Lagos here, Lagos as it is today, it has everything to stand by its own. We run the police, we have the most viable infrastructure in the whole country, yet we are not given what we deserve. Look at the number of local governments we have, if we run true federalism, we would not be having 37 LCDAs and 20 Local Governments.
“We should be able to create the number of local governments that we desire. It’s very important for all of us as a duty to ensure that some of the things that we have gained since return to democracy, is for us to install a viable federal structure and for that reason, the memory of MKO Abiola will continue to guide and abide with us.”
Speaking, Kanu said the nation was struggling with numerous problems because true federalism and restructuring had not been put in place.
“We are at this time struggling to build and we may still have the chance to build the country but it is a dwindling chance. Whatever is happening now in the country, either militancy, IPOB and others will not stop until we go back to the Nigeria that we are expected to build-a federal Nigeria.
“We should brace up and be prepared and not be afraid. Prayer will not solve the problem. We have to get back to a federal Nigeria. If not, we should be prepared because what we are seeing is just a child’s play. I have not lost faith in the country’s old anthem (Nigeria we hail thee) but not this one,” he said.
Also, Opadokun lamented the plight of Nigeria, saying that despite the fact that it is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world, the masses were still very poor and impoverished.
“This country is the eight largest exporter of crude oil in the world and yet has the largest number of poorest people in the world. Something must be wrong with us. Something wonderfully is wrong with Nigeria. Let me say here that Nigeria will never get out of the wood until we restructure this skewed, warped, lopsided national structure. We will continue to grope in the dark. We will never find our bearing until restructure the country,” he said.
Opadokun also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sum up the courage to ask the electoral body to make final pronouncement that MKO won the June 12, 1993 presidential election and then proceed to confer on him posthumous honour.
Special Adviser to the Lagos Governor on Civic Engagement, Kehinde Joseph, in his welcome address said June 12 was the day Nigerians relegated all the tendencies that had continually been militating against the unity of the nation to the background and embraced common hope and aspiration by voting massively for Abiola.
Joseph said it had been posited that if it had been allowed to stand, the June 12 poll would have changed the political culture of the country for the better, as entrenched cleavages of ethnicity, religious affiliations and mistrust, would most probably have lost their grip on the polity.