Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has called on Nigerians to draw strength from the 1993 general election and make the 2023 exercise even better.
The governor also advocated stringent punishment for violators of due process in elections, saying that people’s ballots must count and be respected in 2023.
Abiodun, spoke during the 2022 June 12 Commemorative Anniversary and Nigeria’s Democracy Day, held at the M.K.O International Stadium, Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
The governor also approved the commuttal of six convicts on death row to life imprisonment and also released 40 inmates.
Abiodun said that the commuttal to life imprisonment and release of the convicted inmates was in accordance with the provisions of Sections 212 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) and Sections 4 and 5 of the Ogun State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy (Establishment Law), Laws of Ogun State 2006.
According to the governor, the struggles of June 12 as orchestrated by late MKO Abiola gave birth to the seamless democracy Nigeria has enjoyed in the last 29 years.
He added that “only by upholding the tenets of democracy and ensuring its sustainability that we can truly honour the memory of those ideals that Chief MKO Abiola and others stood and died for”.
While advocating a free, fair and credible election, the governor said the process begins, among other things, with voters’ participation in the registration exercise.
Abiodun stressed that for the 2023 general elections to be a huge success, every eligible Nigerian must register to vote and actually take part in voting on the day of election.
“While it is heart-warming to note that in the last 29 years, we have enjoyed seamless civilian-to-civilian transition, it is only by upholding the tenets of democracy and ensuring its sustainability that we can truly honour the memory of those ideals that Chief MKO Abiola and others stood and died for. People’s ballots must count and be respected, while violators of due process in elections ought to be dealt the full wrath of the law.
“If the ideals matter to us, religion and ethnicity too should not become campaign issues or determinants of who gets what, when, how in our body-politic or become primary considerations in our leadership recruitment and governance processes. I can envision how these Nigerians who gave their all would be cringing in their graves seeing us celebrating divisive vices and our do-or-die politicking”, the governor stated.
He charged Nigerians to internalise democratic values and tenets of the late MKO Abiola and other heroes and heroines on democratic principles and practices.
“Our schools should teach them and we should hold them in our hearts and not our mouths. We labour in vain if we claim to have laid the ghost of June 12 to rest as long as Nigeria still experiences banditry, insurgency and ethnic champions still hold sway. Rather than all these, we should restore our country back to true federalism and ensure that powers are properly devolved”, he added.
“As our administration is in the final year of our first term in office, we will not drop the baton. We will continue to deliver on our mandate. In fact, the people of Ogun State should expect a faster pace in the actualization of our electoral promises. We are determined that Ogun State shall fulfill the dreams of our founding fathers.
“As we reflect on the unquantifiable, selfless sacrifice and contributions of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and other democratic legends towards the development of our fatherland, I enjoin us all to rededicate ourselves to the service and unity of our great nation.
“Beyond this celebration, I enjoin you all to shun all acts that could be an albatross against the democratic success we have made and continued to sustain in our dear State in the last 36 months. This is the only way we can make progress and achieve our collective dream”. Abiodun said
A march past by students, unions, organisations and associations, as well as observation of a minute silence for late Abiola and other legends of democracy were major highlights of the event.