Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Thursday, 13 June 2013
TWENTY YEARS AFTER JUNE 12: LET US SAY THANK YOU
Twenty years ago, Nigerians trooped out in their millions, to vote in accordance with their conscience, at an election meant to serve as the culmination of General Ibrahim Babangida’s democratic transition program.
Today, as we reflect on that epoch making event, let us recall the collective sacrifices Nigerians made to change our destiny. Many often speak about MKO Abiola as the symbol of June 12, and I shall come back to speak about the man and his vision shortly. But first let us recall that June 12 was a people's movement, born out of the collective frustration and anger of Nigerian people at the direction our country was going. It was a movement that was given its first breath of life by students across Nigeria, who engaged in protests against the lack of jobs in the economy. It was sustained by our activists, our market women, our unions, our journalists, and our progressive politicians.
Perhaps, then it would seem self-evident, altogether natural and fitting, that MKO would emerge as the symbol of this dynamic, grassroots movement. His decisive victory during the June 12 elections and the military's unjust annulment made him the clear symbol and rallying point for the pro-democracy movement. Although he was a successful businessman who walked in the corridors of power in Nigeria and around the world, he was ultimately a man of the people, remaining steadfast in defense of the democratic mandate given to him by the Nigerian people in the face of deceit, betrayal, and treachery from his so-called friends; and intimidation, attacks of his businesses and his arrest by the military. Finally, the struggle claimed his life and that of his principal wife, Kudirat.
But today is not a day for sorrow. No, not even when the main beneficiaries of his sacrifice fail to honor the ideals for which these true democrats laid down their lives; not even when the national leadership since 1999 has sought to wipe MKO's name out of our living memory; no, not even when poverty eats more deeply into the minds and bodies of Nigerians than it did in 1993. For sorrow has no place when enough of us remain committed to MKO's vision of a Nigeria free of poverty.
Instead, let today be a day for true democrats to rise up again, and dust off our shoes and begin the march for true democracy once again. For 20 years later, we have come full circle. As the progressives across the land come together in a coalition party, our political landscape will soon be set for another election between two main parties; a contest that will force people to move beyond primordial sentiments towards performance as the means for deciding to whom they will give their support.
We will soon be set for an election not unlike the June 12 election. However, unlike the 1993 election, this time, the progressives may find that their daring, their determination, their courage and commitment will be rewarded with victory. So on this day, let us say thank you to those that blazed the trail, at the same time that we acknowledge that the journey continues. May 2015 see the blossoming of democracy in Nigeria.
Friday, 7 June 2013
It has come to the notice of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) that some prominent people from the Northern part of the country who are not happy with the determination of the Federal Government to put a stop to the wanton killings in the north have decided to cast aspersion on the OPC by equating it with the Boko Haram sect.
We have decided to remain neutral and maintain our peace since the orgy of killings started. But we have taken note of statements credited to some prominent Northern leaders, especially since the crack down on the Boko Haram sect.
In the Thursday, 6 June, 2013 edition of The Punch newspaper, former commissioner of police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, while condemning Federal Government’s all-out attack on Boko Haram, wondered why the president failed to ban other groups, including the OPC, because, according to him, the groups are involved in acts of terrorism.
We state here as a matter of fact that the OPC is a visible organisation, with known addresses all over the country. Its leaders are also known and accessible to all Nigerians, including security agencies. We draw our strength from our membership of more than seven million. It is also on record that we don’t engage in clandestine activities, since our activities are known to all and recorded for history by the vibrant and courageous Nigerian media, and therefore in no way a security threat to the country.
Let us recall here that our leaders, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, Otunba Gani Adams and four other leaders were arrested and detained by the Obasanjo administration in 2002 and 2005.
It may interest you to know that we were taken to court and discharged and acquitted of all the charges, including belonging to unlawful organization and unlawful association.
The first was time was at the Federal High Court, Lagos, where Justice Dan Abutu struck out the matter and discharged and acquitted us of all the charges. The second case was at the State High Court, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where Justice Charles Oluremi Jacobs (OFR) also struck out the case, discharged and acquitted us.
The government still took us before Justice Sybil Nwaka of the Lagos High Court. The honourable justice also struck out the case, discharged and acquitted us.
But surprisingly, we were taken before Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja. On 19th of December, 2006, the honourable judge ruled in our favour, while discharging and acquitting us.
You will agree with us that these four rulings are enough proof that the OPC is not an unlawful organization or a threat to national security.
Setting the records straight
But for the purpose of setting the records straight, it has become necessary for us to come out and speak on this very serious and controversial issue, since our silence may be interpreted to mean admission of guilt.
To most discerning Nigerians, nothing can be further from the truth than this statement credited to the former police boss. The activities of the OPC in the last ten years in the south-west of the country speak volume of the peaceful nature of our group.
It would be interesting to educate these people on our activities. As we speak, the OPC is in the fore-front of the promotion and propagation of the cultural values, ideals and rich history of the Yoruba race, even beyond the shores of Nigeria.
At this juncture, let me list some of the prominent Yoruba festivals that our organization has put on the global cultural map with our involvement. They include the popular Osun Oshogbo festival in Osun State, Oke Ibadan festival in Oyo State, Okota festival in Ondo State, Olumo and Lisabi festivals in Ogun State, Oranmiyan festival in Oyo State and Oya festival in Kwara State, among several others.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of our cultural drive is the popular Olokun festival in Lagos State. It may interest you to know that Olokun festival was started in 2002 as part of our efforts to bring the world attention to our rich cultural values. In 2005, we took another step by registering this festival which holds in Badagry, Lagos State.
Since then, we have received kudos and encouragements from several groups, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for our efforts to promote culture.
Providing security for the people
It is a known fact among residents of Lagos State and other major towns across the south west that the OPC has played and will continue to play prominent roles in the security of lives and properties of the people.
Also, as part of our efforts to engender peace through quality leadership, the OPC has consistently organized leadership training programmes for its leaders both at home and in the Diaspora.
Aside these laudable programmes, we are committed to creating wealth and lifting our people out of poverty with our poverty alleviation programmes, targeted at widows and the less-privileged, through the Gani Adams Foundation. It is also on record that our organization has contributed to intellectual discourse in the country with our lectures, which aim to eradicate ignorance among the people.
Relationship with other ethnic groups
It is also a known fact that the OPC has and continues to maintain a solid peaceful relationship with other ethnic groups spread all over the south west region of the country. For instance, the National Coordinator of the OPC, Otunba Gani Adams, was the chairman recently at the Turban ceremony of the Seriki Hausa of Oshodi in Lagos. Activities like this are common, and speak volumes of the activities of our group.
Participation in Govt’s peace initiatives
It will also be recalled that the Otunba Gani Adams was a participant at the National Peace Forum, organized by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-party Relations, in 2004. The OPC leader was later appointed as a state Peace Envoy.
In the same vein, the OPC also participated at the African First Ladies Peace Mission meeting, organized in Abuja by the office of the First Lady in 2012.
You will recall that the OPC is Yoruba organization, formed with the basic aim of promoting the cultural values of our forefathers and also to protect the interest of our people. In this regard, nobody can fault our activities. Rather, unlike the acts of violence raging in other parts of the country, the south west has been very peaceful, with no single act of terrorism recorded on our soil.
Advice for Tsav
It is surprising that Mr. Abubakar Tsav, a former police boss, will choose to attack the OPC. While the OPC continues to contribute its quota to the development of the country, with activities like the donation of books that will assist indigent students to public libraries, Mr. Tsav, while seeking to remake himself, has become a critic of anything that catches his fancy.
Let him borrow a leaf from other retired police officers with sterling qualities to turn his efforts towards activities that will bring about peace among the diverse religions and the ethnic nationalities that make up the country.
Lets us remind Nigerians that the OPC remains committed to the promotion of the rich cultural values of the Yoruba people, with a view to a peaceful co-existence with other ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, let nobody make attempt to drag us into an unnecessary conflict in order to make a scapegoat of the OPC. As leaders, those seeking to drag the OPC into their conflict should direct their energies at efforts that will bring to an end the killings, hostage taking and kidnappings in the north and other parts of the country.
Oodua People’s Congress
Otunba Gani Adams