By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has stated that one of theÂ best ways Nigeria can immortalise the late winner of June 12, 1993Â Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola, is to entrench viableÂ democracy.
At a function to mark the 23rd anniversary of the poll in Lagos onÂ Sunday, Ambode added that such can only be achieved through theÂ practice of true federalism which is currently not in place in theÂ country.
The event was organised by the State’s Office of Civic Engagement andÂ the governor used the occasion to state that Nigeria owe the lateÂ Abiola a duty to entrench democracy in the system and practice it the
Speaking on the theme: “Democracy And Inclusiveness: Basis For GoodÂ Governance,” Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary toÂ the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, said June 12 would continue toÂ be remembered, but that the country must be prepared to travel throughÂ the journey of ensuring the right things are done in proper ways.
He said: “This is a day we must continue to remember because we have
been practicing democracy and 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 and
that is the message the Governor has asked me to deliver.
“We still have a long way to go. If you want to live by Abiolaâ€™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,” he said.
The Governor added that the federating units of the country must be
allowed to develop at their own pace, saying that it was important for
the country address the very evident wrongs of the past.
He said: “For us in Lagos here, Lagos as it is today 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
“Look at the number of Local Governments we have, if we run true
federalism, we would not be having 37 Local Council Development Areas
(LCDAs) and 20 Local Governments. We should be able to create the
number of Local Governments that we desire,” he said.
In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and General Secretary of
National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Pa Ayo Opadokun urged
President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently recognize late Abiola as a
former President of Nigeria and name a national monument after him.
Opadokun lamented that it was unfortunate that former President
Olusegun Obasanjo, who he described as the major beneficiary of the
June 12 struggle, failed to accord Abiola the due recognition
throughout his eight year-tenure, but urged the Federal Government to
right the wrongs to Abiola by paying his family for the crippling of
his businesses during the struggle.
Besides, Opadokun said it was unthinkable that Nigeria, which is the
eighth largest exporter of oil, still has the poorest people in the
world, adding that the country may not get out of the wood until the
restructuring of the skewed and lopsided national structure.
Opadokun also called for urgent address of injustice in the system,
saying the federation must be reconfigured to make every Nigerian
equal and totally remove the traces of injustice and unfairness.
He said: “For instance, in 1960, there were four political divisions
in Lagos and two in Kano. As we speak, Jigawa State has been created
out of Kano with 27 Local Government Areas, while Kano itself has 44,
making a total of 71.
Lagos, on the other hand, has just 20 Local Government Areas. This is
injustice,” Opadokun said.