Babagana Kingibe, Vice-presidential running mate to late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the June 12, 1993, presidential election, has urged Nigerians to be inspired by the deceased’s steadfast commitment and willingness to sacrifice his life.
He made the appeal on Monday after President Bola Ahmed inspected a Guard of Honour at the Forecourt of the Presidential Villa in Abuja as part of activities scheduled to mark the 2023 Democracy Day celebration.
Kingibe, while fielding questions from State House reporters, the nation would forever be grateful for his sacrifice for the country’s democracy.
When asked if he thought the country had done enough to recognise what MKO Abiola truly stood for, the diplomat, politician and civil servant who had held several high ranking government offices said: “Well, I don’t know; when is enough, enough? May his soul rest in peace. The President, Abiola, is no more. We can’t bring him back. And whatever we do, will never bring him back to life. But we should never forget.
“We should be inspired by his courage. We should be inspired by his steadfast commitment, and we should be inspired by his willingness to sacrifice his life, which he has, and for which I think the country will forever be grateful.”
On the kind of nostalgia today’s event had evoked as the Vice President of the winner of the June 12 1993 election, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said: “Well, it always brings back very vivid memories of the whole process and sadness at the end of the process with the annulment, but I think today as always, I believe in looking forward and the President in his Democracy Day address has set out the markers as to where we are coming from.
“And he has set up beacons as to the direction we should take to make our country great, to strengthen democracy and to defend democracy at all times. And I believe that his speech was really inspiring and I think all right-thinking men and women of this country should very carefully go through and be inspired by it and be guided by it. It is a great thing.”
While speaking, the new SGF, Senator George Akume said June 12 represented deliberate attempt to enthrone the sanctity of democracy and due process as far as elections were concerned.
He expressed happiness that Senator Tinubu regarded as one of the most critical persons in the struggle for the attainment of that mandate is now the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
When asked about what Democracy Day meant to him, he added that “It also bothers on fundamental human rights, the right of people to vote freely and choose their own leaders.
“The abandonment of this principle leads to unpleasant consequences by way of demonstrations, when that annulment was made. It was long ago, but we give glory to God that today, we are celebrating this very important landmark in the history of our country. Remember, it was 2019 that former President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as work free day and by that tradition, the present government is continuing to walk in the steps of the last administration.”