The Lagos state government, on Tuesday, unveiled the statue of late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election to commemorate Democracy Day.
The event took place at the MKO Abiola Garden, located in the Alapere area of the state. At the event was Akinwunmi Ambode, the state Governor; his wife, Abimbola; and Idiat Adebule, his deputy.
“There was a statue done by my predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola but in the divine world, some things are more glorious than what you think and so we decided at the end of 2016 that we should do bigger statues for Chief Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiola since almost everybody passing and entering Lagos go through this particular Ojota axis and so we started late in 2016 that we should build something bigger and so it took us about a year to do this. By the time we did the one for Gani to celebrate his posthumous birthday on April 22, we also agreed that we should unveil that of MKO Abiola today, June 12.
“But just as if God has a way of crowning all efforts to mark the 25th Anniversary of June 12, our President, President Muhammadu Buhari has deemed it fit to give our own MKO Abiola the highest honour in the land, GCFR and that is why we believe strongly that your presence here is not just for this statue but it is also historic which we would always remember in the annals of the history and politics of this country that sooner than later, there would be one day we would mark as MKO Abiola Day.
“We are very happy to gather here today at the MKO Abiola garden to unveil this statue, a monument that will forever crystallize his legacy, serves as a reminder to the greatness that Chief Abiola represents in our socio-political landscape,” the Governor said.
He described MKO Abiola as a man who transcended race, tribe and religion, adding that the late philanthropist appealed to all Nigerians who voted massively for him during the 1993 Presidential election.
“Sadly, he lost his life trying to secure his mandate. Even though he was from another State, Lagos was his home. And we recognize his contribution to our State and our democracy,” Governor Ambode said.
Responding on behalf of the family, MKO Abiola’s son, Abdul Mumuni Abiola thanked Governor Ambode and the Lagos State Government for the honour done the Abiola family, saying the statue was indeed befitting to honour his late father.
“God is great. I heard about this statue six months ago and I was called to come and see it and when I got here, I saw a statue of three-storey building. This is indeed massive. The family of late MKO Abiola really appreciates this and we want to thank the Governor,” Abdul Mumuni said.
Other Lagosians who attended the unveiling were full of praise for Abiola. Babatunde Rotinwa, the Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, said: ''Abiola has worked and brought democracy to this great nation, he tried his best during his time, he helped the poor and assisted all religious organizations and all the tribe he is a man to be remembered for his works. The good he did is been recognized today. He sacrificed his life to bring democracy to this great country. Previous administration did not recognize him but Buhari did and we must thank him for this.''
Oluwafemi Kayode, a sculptor, said the late politician deserved more for his efforts in Nigeria's democracy.
with additional reporting by Raphael Adenaike and Michael Smith