Connect with us

Politics

ADDRESS BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 2018 DEMOCRACY DAY CELEBRATION, TUESDAY, 29TH MAY, 2018

Published

on

ADDRESS BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 2018 DEMOCRACY DAY CELEBRATION, TUESDAY, 29TH MAY, 2018

My Dear Nigerians!

Today marks the 19th year of our nascent democracy and the 3rd Anniversary of this administration. I am thankful to Almighty God for bringing us thus far. This administration came at a time that Nigerians needed Change, the Change we promised and the Change we continue to deliver. We have faced a lot of challenges on this journey and Nigerians have stood by us in achieving the three cardinal points of this administration namely; Security, Corruption and the Economy.

2. The commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day is a celebration of freedom, a salute to the resilience and determination of Nigerians and a recommitment by Government to keep its promise to lead Nigeria into a new era of justice and prosperity.

3. Public safety and security remains the primary duty of this Government. Before this Administration came into being 3 years ago, Boko Haram held large areas of land spanning several Local Governments in the North East.

4. Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram.

5. In order to minimize the impact of the insurgency on Internally Displaced Persons, Government has established secure IDP Camps and has improved the mechanism for the distribution of basic aid, foods and essential commodities using various strategies in collaboration with local and international Organizations.

6. Efforts are in process for resettlement of IDPs in their home communities by providing schools, hospitals, clinics, water and sanitation to facilitate a quick return to economic activities. Government is similarly implementing de-radicalization and rehabilitation programmes to facilitate sustainable peace and development.

7. The unfortunate incidences of kidnappings, herdsmen and farmers clashes in several communities which have led to high number of fatalities and loss of properties across the country is being addressed and the identified culprits and their sponsors shall be made to face the full wrath of the law. All the three tiers of Government are presently engaged with communities and religious organizations to restore peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.

8. I want to commend members of the Multinational Joint Task Force drawn from Niger, Benin, Chad, Cameroon and our own country in collaboration with the International Community who are assisting in the fight against insurgency in the North East. I also commend the gallantry of members of our Armed Forces and other security agencies that have continued to provide security for lives and properties across the country. State and Local traditional authorities are helping with much needed intelligence in this fight against insurgency.

9. This administration is pained over the grievous loss of lives and properties occasioned by the carnage of insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice. Government is boosting the capacity of our security agencies through recruitment of more personnel, training and procurement of modern equipment, enhancement of intelligence gathering as well as boosting their morale in the face of daunting challenges.

10. The Niger Delta Region has enjoyed relative peace through social inclusiveness and cooperation of the Elders and the good people of the region. Government is committed to implementing the comprehensive peace, security and development plan for the region. The environmental clean-up of the region which commenced with the launch in Bodo, Ogoni in June, 2016 is progressing satisfactorily. Furthermore farming assets are being revived and investors in cocoa and palm oil plantations are showing serious interest.

11. The second primary object of this Administration is to fight corruption headlong. Like I have always said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will destroy the country. Three years into this Administration, Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud our policies and determination to fight corruption. We are more than ever before determined to win this war, however hard the road is. I therefore appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support us in this fight.

12. Various policy measures already put in place to stem the tide of corrupt practices are yielding remarkable results. Some of these key reform policies include:

a. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) has realized Billions of Naira being saved from maintenance fee payable to banks. N200 Billion has also been saved from elimination of ghost workers in public service.

b. The Whistle-Blowing Policy has helped to recover over N500 Billion;

c. The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit set up with a mandate to validate controls, assess risks, prune personnel costs, ensure compliance with Public Financial Management reforms has helped to identify and remove over 52,000 ghost workers from the Federal Government MDAs Payroll;

d. The Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) aimed at expanding tax education and awareness has offered the opportunity for tax defaulters to regularise their status in order to enjoy the amnesty of forgiveness on overdue interest, penalties and the assurance of non-prosecution or subject to tax investigations.

e. The Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio has been expanded with an injection of US$650 million so as to strengthen its investment in local infrastructure, power, health, re-construction of Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, East West Road (Section V) and the Mambilla Hydro-electric Power project as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.

13. The fight against corruption through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has resulted in recoveries of Billions of Naira, as well as forfeiture of various forms of assets. This alongside other efforts has improved Nigeria’s international image and regional cooperation.

14. We have retained the services of one of the world’s leading assets tracing firms to investigate and trace assets globally. This is in addition to the exploitation of provisions of existing Treaties, Conventions as well as Bilateral Agreements with Multilateral bodies and Nations. Nigeria has also signed Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements to ensure that there is no hiding place for fugitives.

15. This Administration has therefore focused on revamping the ailing economy it inherited in 2015. In 2016, Government executed an expansionary budget and developed the Strategic Implementation Plan. For the first time, 30% of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure which represents an upward review when compared with the 2015 budget. The SIP was followed by the development of a comprehensive medium term plan – the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 – 2020.

16. The broad strategic objectives of the ERGP were to; Restore and sustain economic growth; Build a globally competitive economy; and Invest in our people. The implementation of the ERGP has started yielding results. The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the economy grew by 1.95% in 1st quarter 2018, which is a good performance when viewed against -0.91 in 1st quarter 2017 and -0.67% in 1st quarter 2016 respectively.

17. Our foreign reserve has improved significantly to 47.5 billion USD as of May, 2018 as against 29.6 billion USD in 2015. The inflationary rate has consistently declined every month since January, 2017.

18. Recently, Government conducted Focus Labs in three key sectors of the Economy namely, Agriculture & Transport, Manufacturing and Processing as well as Power and Gas. These have yielded significant prospects for investments and Job creation to the tune of US$ 22.5 billion with a potential for creating more than 500,000 jobs by 2020. These investment generation initiatives are expected to increase capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment. There is a high prospect that the cumulative investments from this first phase of the Labs will hit US$39.2 billion by 2025.

19. Under agriculture, Nigeria continues to pursue a strategic food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimization of import dependency. As a result, rice importation from other countries has been cut down by 90% which has a direct impact on foreign reserves.

20. The Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has been created as a means to graduating our citizens from poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support. The major strategic objective is to restore livelihood, economic opportunities and sustenance for the poor across the country. The SIP programmes and projects include:

a. Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 Catering Staff engaged under the programme.

b. The Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states. Less privileged Nigerians are now being paid N5,000 monthly stipend in 9 pilot States of Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Oyo. Eventually the scheme will cover all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.

c. Under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme – About 264,269 loans had been disbursed to 4,822 societies in the 36 States and FCT, while another 370,635 are awaiting release of funds.

d. N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 have been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 States and the FCT. Furthermore, 20,000 non-graduate volunteers have also been selected to kick off the N-Build programme in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria.

21. In the area of power generation, Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators. This underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to our homes, markets, offices and factories.

22. The country achieved 5, 222.3 MW representing the highest peak of power generated onto the national grid and delivered to customers in December, 2017. With new facilities, repairs and rehabilitations by Government and private investors, generation capability now exceeds 7,500 MW.

23. This Administration is committed to lawful interventions to ensure the operators of the distribution business live up to expectations especially in the areas of distribution capacity, service delivery, collection efficiency, and metering to eliminate contentious estimated billing.

24. The Transportation Sector continues to undergo a series of reforms in order to sustain the international best practices and ensure safety and security. The nation’s major airports have witnessed reconstruction of runways, installation of navigational equipment and new international terminals due for commissioning in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu. Bilateral Air Services Agreements between Nigeria and the Governments of other countries will significantly open up new flight routes.

25. As a result of strict regulatory and compliance policies, Nigeria retained her Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 status, after a routine international audit. Recently, a new Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility with capacity for aircraft C-checks and other comprehensive levels of maintenance was established in Lagos. This would save the country an estimated $90m annually.

26. Giant strides have been recorded over the past three years to improve road transport infrastructure in all geopolitical zones of the country.

27. The Railway Sector has also received tremendous attention as this Administration is committed to the goal of linking all State capitals in the Federation by rail network to ease the movement of goods and passengers.

28. The Education Sector especially at tertiary level has continued to witness expansion in order to improve access to higher education by millions of youths in Nigeria. Over the last three years, Government has approved the establishment of 1 new Federal Polytechnic, granted licenses for the establishment of 4 State and 14 private-owned Universities as well as 12 private Polytechnics.

29. Government has also continued to support the implementation of various initiatives aimed at improving the quality of Basic Education delivery. Thus, it has ensured proper funding at the Basic Education level with the disbursement of N42.2 billion UBE Matching Grant to 26 States and the FCT, N851.5 million Special Education Grant disbursed to 23 States and private providers of Special Education and N2.2 billion Teachers Professional Development Fund to 33 States and the FCT.

30. The Federal Government has continued to support fiscal sustainability at the sub-national governments through the implementation of the Budget Support Facility which was accompanied by the 22- point Fiscal Sustainability Plan. Thus, bailouts funds were made available to States to ease their fiscal challenges and other obligations including payment of salaries.

31. In addition, a total of 73 Ecological Fund projects for the control of gully erosion in different communities across all geopolitical zones have been completed in the last three years and are undergoing commissioning while 53 other projects are ongoing. The execution of these projects has generated 357 skilled jobs and 1,350 unskilled jobs during this period.

32. It is pertinent to also make mention of the immeasurable contributions of the Nigerian woman to national development and advancement of democracy, over the last three years. The government and people appreciate you all as mothers of our great country.

33. My dear country men and women, as we all celebrate our democratic experience, let us resolve to avoid hatred and intolerance; we can only achieve our objectives in an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-existence.

34. Finally, the up-coming months will usher us into another season of general elections. Let me use this opportunity to urge us all to conduct ourselves, our wards and our constituencies with the utmost sense of fairness, justice and peaceful co-existence such that we will have not only hitch free elections but also a credible and violence free process.

35. In few days to come, I will be joined by many promising young Nigerians to sign into law the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill

36. I thank you for your attention.

37. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Continue Reading

Politics

Zwingina Demands Release Of June 12 Results

Published

on

The director general Abiola campaign organization in the June 12, 1993 election Jonathan Zwingina wants president Buhari to direct the independent national electoral commission, INEC to release the result of June 12 presidential election and declare MKO Abiola the winner.

Zwingina was speaking on Tuesday when he appeared as a guest on AIT’s current affairs programme “Focus Nigeria”.
The hope 1993 dg, said the new date announced by the president as democracy day, there was need for an official declaration of the winner of the election.
While commending the president for the posthumous award, Zwingina charged the federal government to also recognize other people that died during the June 12 election.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently declared June 12 as democracy day and conferred Nigeria’s highest national honour, GCFR, on Abiola while his running mate, Babagana Kingibe and late human rights activist Gani Fawehimi were conferred with the second highest national honour, GCON.

Continue Reading

Politics

Makarfi joins PDP’s presidential race

Published

on

Senator Ahmed Makarfi, a former Governor of Kaduna State and former Caretaker Committee Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has formally joined those jostling for the party’s 2019 presidential ticket.
Former Cross River State governor Donald had last week also declared his intention to run for the 2019 presidential ticket on the same party platform.
Also former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who recently defected from ruling All progressives Congress (APC) back to his original PDP, is currently on nationwide consultation to galvanise support for the party’s presidential ticket.
Makarfi disclosed his intention in Kaduna on Sunday.
He explained that he had consulted widely and arrived at the conclusion that the time had come for him to contest for the exalted position.
He said unveiled his programme if elected in 2019.
“Restructuring the country, tackling insecurity, fighting corruption with due process and rule of law, improving the economy, reuniting the nation are top among what my administration will do for the country,’’ he said.
Makarfi said the crisis rocking the ruling APC was an advantage for his party to emerge victorious in the election.
Makarfi, however, commended president Buhari’s administration’s fight against insurgency.

Continue Reading

Politics

Fayose promoting violence in Ekiti: Adeyeye

Published

on

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dayo Adeyeye, on Monday accused Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State of promoting violence in the state.
The former Minister of State for Works said in Ado-Ekiti that the governor should be held responsible for the destruction of the campaign materials of the APC candidate in the July 14 election, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
He said in a statement issued by his Director of Media and Publicity, Mr Omoniyi Ojo, that the governor was also heating up the polity with the threats to the perceived enemies of the administration.
Adeyeye also accused Fayose of harassing traditional rulers in the state and sacking civil servants and appointees supporting Fayemi.
‎The former minister, however, appealed to those affected to endure, assuring them that help was underway after the governorship poll.
” The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, should be held responsible for the present state of insecurity in the state.
“ People who are familiar with his antics cannot sleep with their two eyes closed anymore.
” He was chased out in his first term in office when he was imposed on the people of Ekiti State by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“ This second time, he told people that he was a changed person, but he is now worse.
”He was impeached because of violence in his term in office, even some of the cases that include murder cases are still in court.
“Two days ago, an APC supporter was killed, two days before, the bill boards of Dr Fayemi were destroyed in Ikere Ekit
”If you are looking for who are behind all these violence, look in the direction of Fayose.
“Fayose is so intolerant. In 2014, he was holding open meetings with civil servants in the state canvassing for their support and none of them was molested, nobody issued threats to sack them.
“However, I call on those being molested or victimised who are afraid and rightly concerned about their future , that help is on the way.
“ They should bear with the situation now because it would soon be over.
” Victory is assured for APC on July 14. They shall be restored to those stations immediately after the election.
“ The Pharaoh that you see today, you shall see no more,’’ the statement said.

 

NAN

Continue Reading

Politics

Who Is The Presidency?’ Babachir Lawal Explains Controversial Question

Published

on

A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, has explained the reason for a controversial question he asked journalists while being investigated by the Presidency over allegations of corruption against him.
Shortly after his suspension in April 2017, journalists had asked him how he felt about the decision by the presidency to suspend him.
He responded with a question. “Who is the presidency?”
The question sparked controversy as critics questioned the President’s war against corruption and claimed there were ‘sacred cows’ who were being spared.
Mr Lawal was also accused of being arrogant.
Read Also: Grass Cutting Scandal: Former SGF, Babachir Lawal Happy With EFCC Investigation.
More than a year later, Mr Lawal who was fired as SGF in October 2017, has rejected claims that the question was disrespectful.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Television’s Hard Copy on Friday, he said, “I asked that question because the president has a specific routine.
“If you are going to be removed from office, the president insists that you be told personally, first of all, so that your people don’t hear it on the television.
“It’s your duty to notify them that I’m going to be removed from office or I’ve been removed from office – so you’re not watching TV and they see the news.
“The president doesn’t like it. So that was the context in which I was asking this question,” he explained.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended the SGF on April 19 and fired him six months later on October 30, 2017, after he was investigated for the diversion of funds meant for crisis relief in the northeast.
He was immediately replaced by Boss Gidahyelda Mustpha, a lawyer, businessman, and management consultant.

Continue Reading

Politics

Wike pledges peaceful LG poll in Rivers

Published

on

Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers says he has received assurances from heads of security agencies in the state that adequate measures are in place to ensure a peaceful local council poll.
A media aide to the governor, Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, in a statement on Thursday quoted Wike as saying that government would “hold the security agencies professionally accountable should insecurity be experienced in the state in the course of the election.’’
The News Agency reports that there are 23 local government areas, 319 electoral wards and 4,442 polling units in Rivers.
The governor also urged community leaders and members of the public to be alert and report suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to law enforcement agencies.
“Also, the security agencies have definite instructions to strictly enforce the restrictions on human and vehicular movement on election day and arrest any person or group of persons that violate this order.
“All those who have no official business with conducting the election should therefore stay away from the polling units after casting their votes or risk arrest and prosecution,’’ he said.
According to the governor, there is no legal instrument stopping the conduct of Saturday’s election in the state.
“As things stand now, we have no other choice but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities.
“I can confirm to you that the election will take place as scheduled in all the 4,442 units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas of the state as there is no legal obstacle significant enough to warrant otherwise.
“Let me therefore appeal to all registered voters to turn out in their numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice.
“This is a civic responsibility you must exercise in order to rekindle the touch of democracy, good governance and accountability in the local government system.
“I am very pleased with the information that 67 out of the 68 registered political parties have fielded candidates for the election and are therefore participating,’’ Wike said.
He expressed happiness with the assurances by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC) that it would conduct free, fair and credible election on Saturday.
“For us, this is an irreducible minimum and we demand nothing less as government will hold the commission strictly accountable for any act or omission that compromise the integrity of both the process and the election,’’ Wike said.
In a broadcast to the people of the state, the governor had given reasons for the delay in the conduct of the election.
“After three years of legal vacillation, it is now clear that the subject matter or fundamental interest of the claimants in that case has practically been wasted by effluxion of time.
“ And whatever remedies derivable by the parties, if any, can only be nominal.
“While the legal challenge continues, the people of Rivers State are denied their rights to freely elect officers to run the councils democratically.
“However, as things stand now, we have no other choice but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities,’’ he said.

Continue Reading

Politics

Nigerian Senator Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Corruption

Published

on

A Nigerian court sentenced incumbent Senator Joshua Dariye to 14 years in prison on corruption charges, according to the newspaper Premium Times.

Dariye, former governor of the Plateau state (north-central), was accused of diverting about 1.2 billion naira (3.3 million US dollars) while being governor.

The sentence was the result of his conviction for 15 counts of breach of trust and misappropriation, although the court released him in eight of the 23 charges for which he was tried for diverting state funds, using his private company Ebenezer Retnan Ventures.

Commenting on the ruling, the spokeswoman for the Democratic Action Party in Plateau, Danjuma Auta, described the ruling as a sign of what is to come, and argued that the rule of law has finally taken its course.

Dariye’s conviction was a right step in the right direction for democracy to thrive, the spokesperson told the press.

Officials added that the action would be very useful to prove that the government does not protect the members of the ruling Progressive Congress in its fight against corruption.

Continue Reading

Politics

Photonews : Another PMB achievement spotted…..as he picks Object at Ganiat Fawehinmi’s feet 😉

Published

on

During the conferment of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger on late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari briefly bent down to pick up an item that dropped at the feet of Ganiat, wife of the activist.

Such a nice gesture, Nigerians should also remind him to extend same to Killings in different parts of Nigeria by the Herdsmen .

Continue Reading

Politics

Video News Release: Donald Duke Announces Run for President in Nigeria

Published

on

Continue Reading

Politics

Humphrey Nwosu, real hero of June 12, says Umeh

Published

on

The Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Chief Victor Umeh has faulted the planned honouring of June 12 heroes today without the then National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, saying that Nwosu was the actual hero of the 1993 general election.

Speaking to newsmen in Awka shortly after being made the ‘NUJ Man of the Year 2017’, by the Anambra State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Senator Umeh stressed that though it was commendable on the part of the President to honour MKO Abiola, his running mate Babagana Kingibe and Gani Fawehinmi, but doing so without the man who took the risk to ensure the election held in the freest and fairest manner ever and declared result, was another act of injustice and marginalization against Ndigbo.
He said, “Professor Humphrey Nwosu conducted the 1993 elections and defiled all manner of pressures. He was also in the process of announcing the results of that election when the soldiers stormed his office and whisked him away with the results of the election.
“When they called him on phone not to announce the result, he refused and was already announcing the results state by state and was on course to getting to the final declaration when the soldiers stepped in, put gun on his head, stopped him and whisked him away. So celebrating those who were presumed to have won the election and forgetting the person who ensured that that election took place and conducted it in the freest and fairest manner was a grave omission on the part of the Federal government.

“Even now, it is not late for them to honor him with a national award. If they have given the acclaimed winner Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and his vice, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), and an activist who fought for the restoration of the mandate, Chief Gani Fawehinmi with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), there’s no reason why Prof Humphrey Nwosu should not be honored with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON). Because Gani Fawehinmi was just an activist and the man who took the risk was left out…”
Furthermore, he said, “Chief Moshood Abiola and his vice were not president and vice president but can be regarded as president and vice president elect that never served because one cannot be a president if he/she was not sworn in and did not serve, so the honor given to them already by the federal government is enough; those who are asking that they should be given all the entitlement of former president are being emotional and sentimental over the matter.
“The recognition that they won the election is enough tribute to them. Their names would be in the history book as those who won the election but never served and enough consolation for their families.”

On the issue of moving the public holiday from May 29 to June 12, Umeh said, “Well, the government has said so; we’ll look at the relevant laws to see if the President has such powers to change holiday in a country without the backing of the legislation. So when we resume, we’ll look at it at the National Assembly if the president is right in changing the date by himself without an art of the National Assembly we’ll also see, but if he didn’t have the power to make that proclamation, we may back it up with legislation.
“What is important is that Nigerians are happy with coming to admit that there was a mistake and injustice done here in 1993. So in the same vein, Prof Humphrey Nwosu should be recognised among the heroes of that election, leaving him out is another grave injustice.”  – Sunnewsonline

Continue Reading

Politics

June 12, The Mandate, By Wole Soyinka

Published

on

(As prepared for the formal recognition of June 12, 1993, and conferment of national honours on stalwarts of that struggle).
The annulment of the presidential election of June 12, 1993 was a negative watershed in Nigerian history. It opened the floodgates of distrust, the consequences of which, sometimes in directions that are still in denial, have remained to plague the nation. There is much to remember, and some of this with a measure of satisfaction, even a sense of fulfillment. For many however, much of the memory is unbearable. A number still resort to desperate measures to cauterise the trauma of the consequent season of unprecedented inhumanity, occasioned by sheer lust for unchallenged power and total domination of the national environment. These are individuals who walk among us, with scars of horrendous torture, others whose lives remain permanently disrupted, and yet several more who have been pauperised beyond recovery. Some can never eradicate the ordeal of being compelled to witness the torture and dehumanisation of their relations, forced to watch, in order to force them to incriminate themselves or others, confess to deeds, and/or sympathies to which they were complete strangers. Yet even these victims, direct victims, or sufferers from collateral wounds, may have succeeded in overcoming their ordeal, if only a concerted gesture of recognition, of restitution and vindication of their roles had been offered, a symbolic act towards potential closure, such as brings us together this day, June 12, 2018, a quarter of a century later. It should never have waited this long. It required only a simple capacity for empathy, an act of moral courage, and a sense of belonging to that gamut of humanity from whom sacrifice is often extracted with or without their consent.
That simple gesture, repeatedly advocated by millions, was denied. The burden of arrogance and vaunting self-centredness sat heavily on the shoulders of the beneficiaries of a collective struggle. They harvested, but could not bear to share, or render dues. Or simply lacked the imagination, and were devoid of a sense of honour. They lacked an understanding of history, and trivialised the emotions of fellow humanity. Some could not even bear to name the symbol of that struggle for the restoration of civil dignity that is at the very basis of ordered social existence. That social actuality, the massed will of the people, is the ultimate voice of authority. Civil society must therefore hold itself also culpable, numerous times, for laxity in its exertion. Here follows a simple instance that is not beyond recall of most of us here.
The demand for national recognition of Moshood Abiola was at its most intense during the tenure of the primary beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice, one to whom the very name of that political martyr was anathema. I refer to the hosting of the All-Africa Games, COJA, for which I was then cultural consultant for the opening ceremonies. In his lifetime, Moshood Abiola, a man of many parts, many interests, and multiple personifications, was recognised across the continent and outside for his passion, his moral and material generosity to the sporting arena. Such was the magnitude of his contribution that he was conferred with the title of African Pillar of Sports by the Africa Union.
A stadium was under construction in preparation for the games and it was confidently expected, indeed loudly demanded that that stadium should bear his name. Indeed, many assumed that this so obvious, so painless, so inexpensive tribute would be paid him by his own nation. The COJA Games came, and went. I urged the media – you may check the archives – to ignore that president and simply continue to refer to the stadium as the Moshood Abiola Stadium. Keep at it, I exhorted, and it will not matter in the least whether or not the occupant of Aso Rock concedes the posthumous honour so overwhelmingly deserved. The people’s voice remains the ultimate decider, irrespective of the voice of power, petulance and pettiness. Today, I repeat that demand and urge it on this government. History is archived not only by the written word or oral narratives, but by a landscape that is strewn with the precipitates of human attainment.

The media failed to take the bait. Society wearied and moved on. Instead, one of the major avenues of this very capital of the nation still bears the name of that ruler who is near uniformly execrated across the nation and vilified across the world. And I assert this despite recent affirmations of loyalty to that dictator from his erstwhile colleagues. Mr. President, let me state this directly: Loyalty is a virtue, but it also can prove perverse. No matter, today, the plunge is being taken. Belated, yes. With an eye on electoral fortunes, undoubtedly. And somewhat diminished by a number of unsatisfactory details, some trivial, some significant, some debatable, others simply untenable – what matters is that a long evaded step towards the summit of closure has been taken.
One sour note, even today, deserves special attention, since it goes to the heart of this depressing career of denial. How did that word “presumed” as in the expression “presumed winner” of an election, creep into the official communique? That seeming trivia goes beyond semantics. I was on my way to Brazil when pressure for my presence here today commenced and became overpowering by its very logicality. I did not do an about turn, aborting a prior engagement, in order to participate in a ritual of presumptions. That insertion is what we must deem “presumptuous”, even contemptuous of reality. Moshood Kashimawo Abiola was, and remains the acclaimed, not presumed, winner of the Nigerian June 12, 1993 democratic elections, an event that manifested the collective and disciplined will of the Nigerian people in a most unambiguous manner.

Let me testify that I was actually in Europe, at a conference, at the same time as the then secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku. We shared the same hotel. As the results were being formally collated, posted and released, he continued to share them with me. There was no ambiguity about who was headed for outright victory – and so it proved!
Despite the last-minute efforts to terminate the process, the voting proceeded and was concluded. A clear winner emerged, without presumption or contestation. Even his opponent openly conceded defeat – that is, until he was pressured to backtrack and challenge those results by those whose interests lay outside any known democratic impulsion. I call on the media to ensure that that word “presumed” is blotted out permanently, in any existing and future dispatches. I therefore echo the call of legislators to have those results fully published, so as to lay the ghost of that presumptive qualifier. Dictators are free to annul the succession of day and night, the succession of drought and rains, but no mortal power, either in this world or in any other human habitation, can annul the truth of that election.

It was that truth that nerved Moshood Abiola to emerge and re-present himself to the people in the famous declaration of Epetedo, saying: My name is Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, and I am here to reclaim my mandate. Today, that mandate conferred upon Abiola is being reclaimed on his behalf. Whatever the motivation, the credit is undeniably yours.
What matters for this nation is that after the inertia and avoidance of nearly two decades and a half, justice begins to find place in the agenda of governance. A principled step has been taken towards closure. In finding the courage to assume the mantle of redress, let it not matter to you in the least whether or not such a gesture translates into votes. In any case, you will never find out with any degree of certainty – only in the presumptions of pundits. What will go down in memory and history is that you finally confronted a political entitlement, long evaded, treasonably annulled and imprudently postponed, confronted the spectre of negative memory, and offered the nation a glimpse of the potential of healing. The rest lies in the unpredictable future.
It only remains to me to pay tribute to hundreds of other protagonists of human liberty and the right of political volition. Only a few weeks ago, we celebrated the memory of one of the most consistent of such warriors – Gani Fawehinmi, senior advocate of the masses – also befittingly honoured today. And two weeks ago, we gathered at the graveside of Kudirat Abiola on the anniversary of her brutal murder. And there was Musa Yar’Adua, who mobilised resistance from within a legislature that appeared cowed, submissive and compromised. They read Sanni Abacha the riot act, sent him an ultimatum. Yar’Adua was unquestionably murdered in prison for his dare. And there were assassinations with a dictator’s blooded palm prints all over the corpses – Alfred Rewane, Felix Ibru, Onaguruwa (a case of mistaken identity) and so on and on. Nor must we ever forget the hundreds of others, many of them unsung, even nameless.
For special mention however, I cannot avoid recalling, with pride and nostalgia, our late Comrade Ola Oni, who is very rarely evoked these days. Yet it was he who mobilised others and led the massed resistance in Ibadan – the epicentre, some may recall – being the propitiously named Liberty Stadium, where he and a sparse but dedicated gathering, after an all-night convergence, moved out at dawn to stall the roller-coaster of a manic ruler in its tracks, thus stemming the spreading tide of civic surrender. Let those highlights remain in our memories, such as that routing of a would-be life dictator on a campaign to entrench himself in power through co-option of slavish surrogates. Let each and any one of our known resisters – Bagauda Kaltho, Chris Ubani, Beko Ransome-Kuti and all others – always serve as recollection prods in our minds for massed resistance in face of any massive state terror machine, however ruthless. These martyrs deserve a collective memorial, as a sign that the struggle for human freedom admits no statute of limitations. Reverses yes, often unavoidably – that is the nature of struggle – but abject surrender? The answer is pre-eminent in the words of one man who stood tall as he toured the streets of Lagos in an open vehicle, declaring:
“My name is Moshood Abiola. It is time to reclaim my mandate.”

Wole SOYINKA is the first Black Nobel Laureate in Literature.Premium Times

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending