Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday said one of the best ways Nigeria can immortalise the late winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola, is to entrench viable democracy, just as he said that such can only be achieved through the practice of true federalism which is currently not in place in the country.
Governor Ambode, who spoke in Lagos at an event organised by the State’s Office of Civic Engagement to mark the 23rd Anniversary of June 12, said Nigeria owe the late Abiola a duty to entrench democracy in the system and practice it the right way.
Speaking on the theme: “Democracy And Inclusiveness: Basis For Good Governance,” Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, said June 12 would continued to be remembered, but that the country must be prepared to travel through 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 Abiola’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 deserve.
“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.