Okun youths insist on Abuja Stadium to immortalise Abiola

Says UNILAG option mockery of June 12

OKUN Youth Initiative (OYI), an umbrella group of the Yoruba speaking people in Kogi State, yesterday faulted the Federal Government’s renaming of University of Lagos (UNILAG) after Chief M.K.O Abiola as part of activities marking Democracy Day, insisting that a monument more national and more befitting in outlook be named after the business mogul.

The group has been at the forefront of agitations for immortalisation of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.

ln a statement in Lokoja, OYI commended President Jonathan “for departing from the anti-MKO posture of his predecessors, who did nothing to immortalise Abiola despite a resolution of the Senate asking the Executive arm to do so.” It, however, called for “a more concrete effort to accord Abiola, who was the pillar of sport in Africa, his rightful place in history by naming the National Stadium, Abuja, after him. This has been our stand since 1999 and on it we stand.”

The group remarked that “the Democracy Day gesture, political and showboating as it may appear to different opinion groups in the country, is something to cheer about that, at last, the same authorities hitherto disinclined to the sanctity of June 12 have started purging themselves and are willing to initiate the processes that we hope will lead to healing the wounds by addressing unresolved issues surrounding the ill-fated election widely adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria.”

OYI, in the statement by its general secretary, Jude Olumide Ogunjobi, as part of activities marking three years remembrance of OYI president and avowed June 12 advocate, Emmanuel Oladele Oniya, who died in a motor accident on May 28, 2009, said “President Jonathan has started well in this direction, showing Abiola truly deserves post-humus honour as Nigeria’s symbol of democracy, a feat his predecessor, Abiola’s kinsman and direct consequence of June 12 struggle, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo failed to do.

“Specifically, we are here asking the current government to name the National Stadium, Abuja, after Abiola who was revered as the Pillar of Sport in Africa during his life time.”

According to the group, “the Abuja National Stadium, located in the centre, befits Abiola’s heroism and sacrifices for democracy. We view on the other hand the decision to espouse the option of University of Lagos, an educational institution located in the South-West zone where the martyr hailed from, as a mockery of June 12 and what it stands for and those valiant heroes whose blood was spilt during the struggles for democracy in which one man lost his mandate, his wife and his own life, after four years in solitary confinement.”


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