June 12 declaration is for democracy growth – Akinrinade
From Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti
A former Chief of Army Staff, General Alani Akinrinade, (rtd) has said that the declaration of June 12 as democracy day in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari is not in honour of Chief M. K. O Abiola, but for the growth of democracy.
Speaking on a lecture entitled : “June 12: Lighting the Candle of Democracy”, at an event to commemorate June 12 in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend, Akinrinade said the honour was not just about the Abiola, but about Nigerians who voted for him.
“President Buhari was one of the first retired Generals to stand up for June 12, but they became disappointed at a time because of the inordinate ambitions of our people so they became scared not until they were told that not all the Yorubas are treacherous.
” So, what he did was not for MKO Abiola, but for the growth of our democracy.
“Some of those saying the June 12 was not worth dying for were poor students of history and not abreast of the war waged by people to restore democracy to the country.
“Over 70 percent of our close to 200m population did not have first hand information about June 12, so those of us who knew what transpired must acknowledge the struggle.
“One thing is clear , there won’t be May 29 without June 12 and that was why President Buhari decided to honour the late Abiola.
“Some of us in the radical fold believed Chief Abiola was a military collaborator , who used his money to fund coups . He was a capitalist but a populist on the other hand, because of his strong philanthropic gesture.
“The man represented Nigeria in all its ramifications and he understood all the contradictions, so there are lessons to be learnt, especially with the way President Buhari decided to honour this man, who died for democracy.
Akinrinade therefore stressed the need to strengthen democracy, noting that we are not yet where we are supposed to be in Nigeria.
The guest speaker also condemned the poser raised by Obasanjo that Buhari was allegedly plotting to Fulanise and Islamise Nigeria.
“I have always believed that criminal is a criminal, whether you are a Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa, when you commit offence, you must be treated as a criminal. It is not good to link every Fulani man to Buhari”, he said.
He appealed to Buhari to cooperate with the governors on the issue of insecurity, saying there can’t peace when people are being kidnapped and money are being taken from them.
Also speaking at the event, a chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ekiti state, Dr Bayo Orire, who commended President Buhari for honouring June 12 as democracy day in the country, also insisted that it should also be a day of inauguration to add glamour to it.
He also dismissed the Fulanisation and islamisation theory raised against the president, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and described it as a misdirected venom, which had been settled by the honour bestowed on the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll.
The APC chieftain said the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll and the honour bestowed on Abiola showed the country needed a strong and virile political institutions.
Others who harped on the need for a strong and potent political institution in Nigeria at the event were: Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye, former Editor of Diet Magazine, Mr. Niran Malaolu, while the discussants include: Professor Bolaji Aluko, General Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, Chief Ayo Afolabi.