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Yoruba, Ndigbo, Arewa call for re-awakening of June 12 spirit

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Opinion leaders, traditional rulers and notable leaders of thought in South West, South East and northern Nigeria have called for re-awakening of the June 12 spirit for the country to attain development beyond religious and ethnic leanings.

The Ekefa Olubadan of Ibadanland, Lekan Alabi; Eze Ndigbo of Oyo State, Dr. Alex Anozie; Head of Nupe Community in Ibadan, Alhaji Shehu Ibrahim; the Seriki Ebira of Ibadan, Lamidi Balogun; and Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, Mr. Ademola Babalola, made the call in Ibadan yesterday during the celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria.

Also, the Mogaji of Adegboro Compound in Ibadan, Prof. Aderemi Raji-Oyelade, who was Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan (UI), lent his voice to the call.

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The event was organised by Oyo NUJ and the Ekefa Olubadan, who was secretary-general of the M.K.O. Abiola Dynamic Group and the first Culture Ambassador of the National Museums and Monument, Ile-Ife.

Featuring the public presentation of the book, June 12: Lest We Forget, written by Alabi and reviewed by Raji-Oyelade, the event held at the NUJ Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2018 designated June 12 as Democracy Day in honour of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, Chief Moshood Abiola, who died in incarceration on July 10, 1998. He was arrested during struggles for the actualisation of the mandate given to him by Nigerians, after the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the election.

Alabi noted that Abiola paid the supreme price for the democracy that the country had been enjoying in the past 21 years without any break, and that the sort of spirit Nigerians had then that made them vote en masse for Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, without any emphasis on religion or ethnicity should be re-enacted for a better future for the nation.

Anozie said, “The annulment of June 12 presidential election was one of the worst things that ever happened to Nigeria, because it was injustice in its totality.”

Babalola described Abiola as a man of many parts, who contributed immensely to the media industry in the country, as a detribalised Nigerian.

“In 1993, Nigerians put aside tribalism and other sentiments and voted for the candidate of their choice as president, but the election was later set aside. He was a philanthropist, who touched the lives of many Nigerian citizens,” he said.

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