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Lagosians lounge indoors on first national June 12 day

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Eleganza Hall, Epetedo yesterday… Photo: Jesutomi Akomolafe

In spite of the elevation of the June 12 anniversary of the 1993 historic but botched presidential election into a national celebration, it was business as usual without any fanfare in many parts of Lagos except the MKO Abiola crescent at Ikeja GRA, home of the day’s hero.

People went about their normal business with little care for the essence of the national holiday. Apart from pupils who were off the streets, nothing else showed a national celebration was being held.

Rather, it was a heavy presence of security operatives that manned the Chief MKO Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Parks in Ojota, to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

In Epetedo, where Chief MKO Abiola had declared himself as president of Nigeria on June 11, 1994, residents were only bothered about government’s neglect of the community as children, youths played football in the hall where the memorable declaration was made. The hall, Eleganza, now known as Premier Palace club, was littered with bottles, nylons and other dirt.

Abdul Waheed Aremu Jawando, an octogenarian and a witness of Epetedo declaration, noted that he had a relationship with Abiola, which was supposed to make June 12 worth celebrating, but the neglect of the community has made it less significant to mark the day.

“I was there when he declared himself winner of the presidential election of 1993 elections here in Eleganza. I was there when it happened. But it is a pity that the place, which is significant to us, as Nigerians, has deteriorated and abandoned by the state government. It has been 25 years now and the state of Epetedo area as a whole has been nothing to write home about. We do not have primary healthcare, roads, water and power supply. The drainage have become a dumpsite,” he lamented.

At the Abiola park in Ojota, where a giant statue of Abiola stands, many passed by without even a moment to gaze at the statue blazing under the sun. a passerby who was asked about the Abiola statue only said: “The statue is okay since it is for Abiola remembrance. We Nigerians believe in making statues after the death of someone, which is wrong. It’s good to appreciate someone when such person is still alive.”


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