The sprawling premises of the late MKO Abiola located in Ikeja played host to scores of civil right activists, prominent personalities, students, media men and family members of the late political icon who all gathered to mark the 17th anniversary of the man popularly elected by Nigerians as president of annulled elections which took place on the 12th of June 1993.
Present at the well attended remembrance were prominent activists such as Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; President, Women Arise and Campaign for Democracy, Barrister Comrade Femi Aborisade; Social Crusader, Mrs. Hafsat Abiola-Costello; President KIND, Dame Priscillia Kuye; former NBA President, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu; NADECO Chairman, Ayo Badmus; Nollywood actor and Babatunde Tokunboh; Nollywood actor.
The procession started with a walk around the premises of the late politician as all who gathered sang solidarity songs in remembrance of late MKO.
In her remarks, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin described MKO Abiola as a man who stands tall than all his adversaries 17 years after his elimination.
"President Abiola displayed uncommon courage, unparalleled dignity and unusual candour in defence of the mandate reposed in him by change seeking Nigerians who trooped out to vote for him in 1993 and engaged all the illegal regimes that held sway while the legal president was languishing in jail.
"17 years after his elimination, Abiola still stands tall than all his adversaries and murderers. He represents what Nigeria is capable of being but which we are not because of the evil machinations of a greedy cabal.
"All the troubles of Nigeria which his victory was about to abolish are the very things that are threatening the corporate existence of the country today. A country that elected Abiola with would not hear of such today as it is badly divided along regions and religion. We are now remembering MKO in the midst of insurgency ruins, Chibok abductions and people burying their dead in Boko Haram's harvest of blood. His memory challenges us to end terror of whatever form in Nigeria."
Speaking at the anniversary, Hafsat Abiola-Costello reminded all about the deeds of her father while challenging Nigerians not to let go of the ideals that MKO stood for.
"I am sure if my father were still alive he would have gladly welcomed you all to his family home but that is not the case today as we all gather for his 17th year remembrance. My father was aware of the power of the opposition but that didn't bother him as he was committed to the mandate of the people. MKO had faith in Nigeria and the Nigerian people and he so badly wanted to change the lives of the masses of Nigerians which explained why he pursued his mandate with all vigour.
"I urge us all not to forget the sacrifice he made in the entrenching Democracy. Let us not forget what he stood for; we should not loose sight of his courage and leadership qualities as we commemorate his 17th anniversary".
On his part, fiery lawyer and social crusader, Comrade Femi Aborisade went down memory lane on the life and times of MKO Abiola while also asserting that his deeds should be emulated.
"The lessons of the life and times of MKO Abiola was one which was committed to the emancipation and eradication of poverty in Nigeria. He was given conditional bail which he refused because he wanted to fulfil the mandate of the mass of Nigerians who trooped out to vote for him on the 12th of June 1993.
"Today MKO is being remembered because he was doggedly committed to the cause of the common Nigerian; his quest to end poverty which he upheld till he breathed his last singles him out as a selfless Nigerian. His is a life of commitment to humanity and we must emulate his efforts."
In the same vein, a lecture organised by Aliu, Kazeem and Habibat Abiola (children of the MKO Abiola) was staged at the Airport Hotel in Ikeja to mark the 17th anniversary of MKO.
The lecture witnessed the attendance of dignitaries and personalities such as Chief Yinka Odumakin; Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Governor of Ondo State; Olusegun Mimiko, who was represented by Honourable Sola Eniseni, Professor Chris Nwakoebia and Mrs Akinsaya; PDP women leader, Oshodi.
Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the lecture, Honourable Sola Eniseni remarked that MKO's life was meaningless if he didn't fight to end the sufferings of Nigerians.
"I'd like to welcome all who came to experience this intellectual excursion into the life and times of MKO Abiola and his struggle for Democracy in Nigeria. My Governor sent me here because he know I was part of MKO's struggle. He stood for the emancipation of Nigerians and he was neck deep in ending poverty in Nigeria. His life was meaningless if he didn't sacrifice to end the sufferings of Nigerians. It is not life that matters but the effort and courage you put into it; today it is the courage put in by MKO that is making us enjoy the benefits of Democracy."
Chief Yinka Odumakin went philosophical with his comments when he mounted the podium. He said: "when a community is afflicted, they look for a man who will carry the Calabash and the bearer of the Calabash may go and return or not return at all. We are all gathered here today because MKO lived and died for a cause; if Nigeria was worthy of it, we would be celebrating him. A monument is supposed to be erected to immortalise MKO. Be it as it may, Nigeria is at crossroads and we must not loose focus because MKO's dreams must be actualised."
One of the organisers of the event, Aliu Abiola who spoke glowingly about his fathers deeds said;" we owe a gratitude of thanks to the Ondo state government for supporting this lecture geared towards the advocacy of Democratic tradition and also to actualise the dreams of my late father. His was a struggle for the emancipation of Nigerians from poverty and he died defending the peoples mandate.
"There have been several calls for my father to be immortalized and I want to thank Goodluck Jonathan for trying to name the University of Lagos MKO but we all know how his effort was rebuffed by misguided elements. If you ask me, I don't think my father should be immortalised, I think he has to be recognised as a past president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He paid the ultimate price for the enthronement of Democracy and we must recognise that fact."
17 years after, the memories of the man who was popularly elected by Nigerians as president on June 12, 1993 and who also lost his life after four years of incarceration for his blunt refusal to compromise the mandate given to him by Nigerians at the time, still lingers on.
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