Elder statesman Ayo Opadokun has faulted governance in Nigeria following the recent development in the country.
Opadokun, a prominent activist of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), gave his view on the journey, challenges, and future of human rights of the Nigerian people during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
He believes the effect of the military is still evident in the governance of the country, despite 20 years since the return to civilian rule.
“We don’t have democracy, what we have is civilian governance. The totality of the thing is that the military that conquered Nigeria in 1966, they are still in effective control,” Opadokun said on Thursday.
The elder statesman added, “Nigeria has been so pauperised by the prolonged military dictatorship and you will have elements who are not well-meaning, I dare say, who will tell us you now have 20 years of so-called democracy, I don’t share that.”
He stressed the need for Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable for their actions and remind them always that they won’t be in office forever.
Fight For Your Rights
The elder statesman recalled how some democrats in the country under the aegis of NADECO fought the battle to return Nigeria back to the civilian rule.
According to him, this was not achieved overnight and a lot of prices were paid while some members of the coalition were forced to go on exile.
Opadokun, however, called on Nigerians to take their stand and live up to their responsibility of making their voices heard when they notice any wrongdoing by the government.
He said, “Nigerians have stopped realising the fact that every day of your life, you must fight for your rights. The day you stop fighting for your rights, those who are misgoverning will continue to seize the moments out of you, to supress you.
“It is a life struggle. It is as if election is everything; election is not everything. Nigerians are not ready to take their destinies into their hands, to make sure and enforce the attitude of those who are in governance to be responsible, to be responsive to the yearning and aspirations of the people.”
“They (the leaders) are there for a time and they must perform in accordance to the promise that they made to the people, they are not doing that,” the elder statesman added.
Nigerians today mark the 23 years anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, widely acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in the country’s history.
The poll is believed to have been won by business mogul and philanthropist, Chief Moshood Abiola.
While the significance of the date is acknowledged across the country, it is mainly states in the south west that actually recognise and mark it with some activities.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital South West Nigeria and the hometown of the late Moshood Abiola, the occasion was marked with a walk organized by the state government and a special prayer session at the family house of the late business mogul.
From the take-off point of the walk at the June 12 Cultural Centre, through major streets of the state, the state deputy governor led other members of the State Executive Council on the walk which lasted for about two hours and terminated at the family house of the late MKO Abiola.
Addressing family members, Islamic clerics and members of the State Executive Council and other dignitaries, the Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, commended the doggedness of the late MKO Abiola saying that his resilience has brought about the current democratic experience in the country
Representing Governor Ibikunle Amosun, she reiterated the commitment of the state government towards sustaining events that would continue to bring the day into the sub consciousness of residents.
Speaking to journalists after the prayer session, one of the family members and younger brother of the late politician, Muritala Abiola, said that life has not been easy since the death of their bread winner.
The family would also want the federal government to declare the late Abiola posthumously as the winner of that election.
In Osun State, civil society groups held a rally in Osogbo the state capital to promote their view that June 12 should be regarded as Democracy Day instead of May 29.
The group comprising civil society organisations, students and market women walked from Ayetoro area to Freedom Park and later moved on to Olaiya junction singing and chanting songs of democracy.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the rally, some of the human rights activists, Waheed Saka and Rasheed Ropo argued that the June 12, 1993 presidential election gave birth to democracy in Nigeria.
They noted that it remains the freest, fairest and most credible election in the history of the country.
They also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the “farewell to poverty” manifesto of the late MKO Abiola.
They called for a posthumous declaration of Abiola as a President of Nigeria while urging the federal government to tackle the various challenges facing the country headlong.
Workers in Oyo State would be observing a work-free day on Monday as the Oyo State Governor, Mr Abiola Ajimobi, has declared Monday, June 13, as public holiday in commemoration of the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
A statement by the Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy to the Governor, Mr Yomi Layinka, conveyed the Governor’s decision, on Sunday.
“June 12 remains a watershed in the history of the country, because of the significance of the day in the nation’s democratic journey, having broken all ethnic and religious barriers.
“The annulled election is yet to be matched in terms of freeness, fairness, transparency, openness and widespread acceptability,” the Governor said.
He urged the Federal Government to “immortalize and officially recognize Abiola as a former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to confer on him the highest honour in the land befitting of a former president”.
The Office of Civic Engagements in the office of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State marked the 23rd anniversary of June 12 with the theme, ‘Democracy And Inclusiveness; A Basis For Good Governance’.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, called for true federalism and national unity regardless of religion and ethnicity.
Also speaking at the occasion, legal practitioner and former NADECO leader, Chief Ayo Opadokun said that June 12 would continue to remain relevant in the nation’s democratic history.
He also called on federal and state authorities to show more respect for the rule of law.
A foremost NADECO activist and Civil Rights Lawyer, Ayo Opadokun, says Nigerians must rise up to speak against corrupt government officials who want to hoodwink the nation into their whims.
The convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), in a press conference on Wednesday, suggested ways to go for the Buhari-led government in dealing with the issues posing a nightmare for millions of Nigerians.
The lawyer said that the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria need to sit down and dialogue to agree on ways to permanently resolve the nation’s common national problems.
“There are too many iniquities, injustice and unfairness in the land. We must restructure Nigeria.
“If there is anything that is common to the entire nationalists who were seated at that conference, it is that they possess common and acceptable ideology which could make Nigeria better than what it is today.
“For example, they were talking about devolution of powers and fiscal federalism. I don’t know any federal constitution where a region or state government is supposedly called a government and can make laws, yet have no law enforcement to enforce the rule it makes as we have here in Nigeria. Those things are still glaring.
“Nigerians have not settled their matter. It is sheer arrogance if anyone imagines that Nigeria’s matter had been settled during the Biafra war where two million people were killed, it is much more than that,” Mr Opadokun added.
The Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his Borno state counterpart, Alhaji Kassim Shettima, were among scores of dignitaries and organisations who visited Lagos House, Marina, Sunday to condole with Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) whose father, Alhaji Ibrahim Fashola, passed on penultimate Monday in Lagos.
In his remarks, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, described the passing of the Pa Fashola as a sad occurrence, adding however, that although the death would naturally provoke moments of grief, survivors of the deceased should derive joy from the fact that he lived a good life and left a worthy legacy in the Lagos state governor.
Dr. Mimiko, alongside some members of his Cabinet, told Governor Fashola, “We have come to commiserate with you over the death of your dear father. We have also come to rejoice with you because Papa lived a good life and he left behind a worthy legacy in the Governor of Lagos State”.
Praying the Almighty Allah to grant sweet repose to the soul of the deceased and to grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss, the Governor also thanked God and “the circumstances that produced a personality like Mr. Babatunde Fashola”.
Also in his remarks, the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said the father of Governor Fashola lived a good and fruitful life adding that he trained his children well and impacted positively on ordinary citizens, especially the poor and needy in the society.
The Governor noted that the elder Fashola wanted the best for his family and that was why he trained all his children well adding that the deceased lived a very exemplary life of giving to others in need. He prayed for the repose of the soul of the Octogenarian and also that the Almighty Allah would support the Family of the deceased.
Responding, Governor Fashola expressed gratitude to the Governors for their visit and honour done to the memory of his father noting that for the Governors to leave the ever tasking challenges of governance in their various States to come to down Lagos to commiserate with him and the family was, indeed, a demonstration of how deep their honour was.
The Governor told Alhaji Shettima, “There is a lot of history between us and the people of Borno State and I believe that this day’s honour reaffirms the common bond that our ancestors have shared’.
“They are bonds which we must rededicate ourselves to fastening, to tightening and to remolding so that in the fullness of time we may also hand it over to our children. They are bonds that I belief if pursued rigorously, will ultimately bring peace to our nation”, the Governor said.
According to him, “They are bonds of humanity; they are bonds of brotherhoods, they are bonds of love and compassion. Those are the most needed ingredients now, in my humble view, to pursue in order to reach out to the promise of our nation which I see within touching distance”.
Thanking his Borno State counterpart for the visit, Governor Fashola encouraged him, “As you continue to soldier on in the pursuit of love, peace and brotherhood across barriers, I pray that Allah grants you all of the wisdom and strength to discharge the mandate which was so graciously bestowed on you in respect of the people of Borno and, by extension, Nigeria”.
Responding on behalf of Fashola to the condolences of Governor Mimiko, one of his uncles and former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, expressed gratitude to the Governor of Ondo State for the courtesy and honour of the visit, saying it was a great honour to their Brother and the entire Fashola Family.
Others who paid visit Sunday included a former military administrator of Lagos State, Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu and National Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Ayo Opadokun, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr. David Paradang, and Executive members of the Igbo Communities in Lagos, among other prominent members of the society from all walks of life.