Your address to the nation on June 12, 2019 has to be a cracker. We are compelled to acknowledge that June 12, 1993 was a watershed in our nation’s history. We now have an opportunity to reconcile our past with the present and ignite hope for the future. In doing so, we are obliged to recognise the fault lines and fissures that threatened the corporate existence of our nation.
We were on the brink of disaster and right on the edge of the precipice that threw up a cataclysmic chasm that would have buried the glorious event which against all odds was a peaceful and credible election and signalled to the rest of the world that as a nation, we could transcend ethnic loyalties, religious affinity and gender bias.
Of course, June 12 1993 will remain evergreen in our nation’s psyche and memory on account of the outstanding doggedness of late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola who paid the supreme sacrifice. His patriotism was exceptional and his generosity knew no bounds. He was large-hearted and he touched so many lives. He was indeed a man of the people. From a humble background armed with education and determination to succeed, he climbed the ladder of success as a Chartered Accountant and very enterprising businessman. He had the audacity to abandon his comfort zone to venture into politics. It is not sufficient to declare that the rest is history.
On the contrary, we must seize this opportunity to acknowledge that June 12 and the heroic sacrifices that followed were not entirely and exclusively about the late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola.
Apart from the late Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, the other chieftains of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), whether dead or alive, deserve our eternal gratitude for their principled defence of the will of the people and the sanctity of the ballot box.
The best tribute we can pay to the memory of Bashorun M.K.O Abiola and the other fallen heroes is to commit our resources and energy to building a better Nigeria for all Nigerians regardless of their ethnicity, religion or gender.
Over the next four years, we must pursue with uncompromising vigour and relentless dedication the demolition of all obstacles to our nation’s progress in terms of peace, prosperity and harmony.
We are not in any way hostile to independent and credible measurement of our nation’s Human Development Index; Infant Mortality; Maternal Mortality; Life Expectancy; Literacy; Gross Domestic Product (GDP); Rate of Inflation etc.
In short order, we shall restore security in all the nooks and crannies of our nation. At the international level our voice will continue to reflect our deep concern for the legitimate aspirations of our brethren in the diaspora and beyond. However, a great deal of work requires our attention here and now. We are eager to attract foreign investment in addition to cultivating a conducive environment for local entrepreneurs.
We intend to invest massively in Agriculture and Industry while recognising the provision of power and electricity as a critical factor. The provision of water is also a matter of priority.
All over the country, the landscape has been bastardised with abandoned projects which have become eyesores. This is a matter which calls for our urgent attention.
As we commence the journey of the next four years, we can only do justice to the memory of Bashorun M.K.O Abiola by institutionalising democracy at every level – from Local Government to State Government and ultimately at the Federal level with our focus on leaving behind an enduring and robust legacy which would earn us the gratitude of future generations. We cannot afford to disappoint them or begrudge them the opportunity to not only excel but surpass our own achievements. However, we have a duty to remind them that prosperity is the reward for hard work and even more hard work.
On their behalf and for their sake, we subscribe to the template that the sky cannot be the limit. We commend to them the vignette by William Faulkner:
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
June 12 is our signpost for reconciliation and resolution of grievances anchored on justice and fairness. In our fifty-ninth year as an Independent nation, maturity demands that we resolve our differences while capitalising on our diversity. Diversity is our strength and we must catalyse it to diversify our economy beyond oil revenue which we know too well will not last forever. In the meantime, we must face the burden of the pollution and devastation of our environment. In addition, we now have to contend with issues about which we were only vaguely aware of on June 12 1993.
They are now monsters which have manifested as kidnapping, cultism, ritual murders, armed robbery, drug trafficking, opioids, “419”/internet fraud; human trafficking.
The last election and the campaigns that preceded them provided us with an opportunity to feel the pulse of the nation. We were left in no doubt about the palpable anger, hunger and frustration all over our beloved country.
We now have a fresh mandate to draw strength from our resilience and face the fresh challenges on the horizon – ranging from climate change to plastic contamination/suffocation of our environment and soil erosion as well as desert encroachment.
We have no option but to address objectively all those hyper-critical issues which the campaigns have thrown up – be they Restructuring or Fiscal Federalism or State police. We are not taking anybody or any section of our nation for granted. Indeed, we must ensure that it is not when people cause trouble or engage in acts of sabotage or treason that they get our attention. Every voice deserves to be heard as we forge ahead in our patriotic endeavours with the Almighty as our guide and guard. It is not enough to solicit divine intervention, we must earn it. So far, we have nothing but gratitude and adoration to offer for his limitless mercies. This is the time to move from noise making and sabre-rattling to concrete achievements and visible milestones in the pursuit of the goals we have set ourselves.
With God on our side, we shall succeed.
We cannot ignore the fact that Bashorun M.K.O Abiola was an outstanding Chartered Accountant and in his memory, we shall overhaul our entire financial system and instil discipline, transparency and accountability. Indeed, in consonance with what is being addressed in other parts of the world, the dominance of the accountancy profession by only four firms will be thoroughly investigated and redressed in the interest of our nation and capacity building.
The task before us is truly monumental but our resolve to do our nation proud is an equal match. It has been an arduous journey with numerous twists and turns between June 12 1993 and June 12 2019.
There were moments of despair and anguish for our nation and the family of Bashorun Abiola but faith and steadfastness provided the armour as well as ladder which enabled us to climb the hill that brought us together as we celebrate a new dawn and fresh hopes.
The late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola loved women and children who in turn adored him as a husband, father and grandfather. He was a legend in politics, business and philanthropy. In addition, he was the Pillar of Sports not only in Nigeria and Africa but also far beyond. The numerous trophies he donated attest to his phenomenal commitment to the development of sports. It is a profound legacy which must never be extinguished.
Also, in the field of IT (Information Technology), as the Chairman of I.T.T Nigeria, the telecommunications giant, Bashorun Abiola was a pioneer in delivering the benefits of rapid and mass communications well ahead of what we now take for granted – thanks to the convenience and accessibility of nimble and versatile mobile telephone networks which avail us of both data and voice messages. In his memory,the government will provide free Wi-fi for selected schools all over the country.
June 12 has provided us with fresh inspiration and energy to pursue the vision of Bashorun M.K.O Abiola for Nigeria where the different nationalities live in peace while reaping the bountiful harvest of the resources with which the Almighty has endowed our nation – fertile land; sunshine; oil and gas; gold; and a long list of mineral resources. We also have good people in abundance. While it is true that Africa is the next frontier for investment, it is our duty to ensure that Nigeria is the ultimate destination.
In conclusion, it is with sublime sense of humility that we are obliged to admit that whatever we do or say cannot bring back the lives that were lost or the hopes that were ruined in the slipstream of June 12, 1993. Bashorun Abiola was a man of legendary generosity and we have every reason to believe that he would not mind sharing the glory and triumph of today with our prayerful thoughts for the missing Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu. Our work is not finished until we secure their release from captivity. We shall not relent.
Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola deserves the honour we have accorded him. We have only given honour to whom it is due. May his soul rest in peace.