Reps oppose bid to immortalise MKO Abiola
Idowu Samuel and Bola Badmus, Abuja - 22.07.2009
Attempt by some members of the House of Representatives to make the Federal Government immortalise the late Chief MKO Abiola, who won the controversial June 12, 1993 presidential election, suffered a set back on Tuesday, as the House threw out a motion to that effect with a resounding voice vote.
The rejection of the motion by the House was the third within a month, since it was represented by the leadership which appeared very disposed to the passage, even as the second attempt to make the motion sail through suffered a similar defeat two weeks ago.
It was apparent that legislators from the North were not in good accord with the motion sponsored by Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon and supported by 34 other members, as the opposing camp canvassed ethnic sentiments to deny Abiola an opportunity to get immortalised for the roles he played in entrenching democracy in Nigeria.
The motion on Abiola’s immortalisation had hardly been presented for debate when signs began to emerge that the debate would toe an ethnic line in which the sponsors, perceived as southerners, appeared to have been drawn in a war of sentiments with their northern counterparts.
Obahiagbon and his co-sponsors had argued that the late MKO Abiola stood as a symbol of democracy having laid down his life for promotion of democratic rule in Nigeria, notwithstanding the humiliations he suffered in the hands of the military government, which annulled the June 12 election, which, they said, he had won overwhelmingly.
They argued that he deserved to be immortalised. Leading the debate on the motion, the representative from Edo State said the need for immortalisation of Abiola was long overdue, given the role he performed in making Nigeria overcome the problems of ethnicism, tribalism and religious bigotry through his candidature in the 1993 presidential election, which he won.
Comment: My personal opinion is that Abiola should be immortalied for gaining the majority of the votes on June 12th. While some people could find certain objectionable qualities of Abiola- the man; the issue of the vote touches the root of our democracy today, and probably in the future. Abiola was not just denied office, but the millions of Nigerians that voted for him were robbed in broad daylight. In many countries, the issue of immortalizing a man who won a popular election, was denied tenure, and eventually died in prison wouldn't even be a debate in the first place, but this is Nigeria. What do you think about immortalizing MKO Abiola.