Renaming of National Stadium: Afenifere, Falana, Balarabe, others hail Buhari


…ask him to end poverty, impute, electoral malpractice

…activist wants Aso Rock, National Assembly named after MKO

…restructuring, best way to immortalize Abiola, says Gani Adams

By Ayo Fadimu

The Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, Elderstateman, Balarabe Musa, Human Right Lawyer, Fermi Falana and the National Coordinator of Democracy Vanguard, Comrade Adeola Soetan has lauded President Buhari for renaming the Abuja National Stadium after the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Mashood Abiola.

Speaking in separate exclusive interview with our Correspondent, they hailed the president for the initiative which they described welcome development and departure from the past regime which did not accord rightful recognition to the winner of the election which was generally agreed to be the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria.

They also called on the President to go beyond renaming monuments after Abiola but also put into practice the ideals which the late Abiola stood for. They are eradication of poverty, official impunity and free and fair election.

Speaking on behalf of Afenifere, the Spokesman of the group, Yinka Odumakin described the Presidents offer as tokenism as a stadium in Abeokuta had already been named after Abiola.

“What we want the President to do is to remove the name of Nigeria from the list of poorest countries in the world as Abiola stood for prosperity and good life for all Nigerians and in extension, Africans”

“The President should also make sure election malpractice totally ends in the country, then, we can talk of remembering Abiola” he added.

On his part, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who said he was part of those who nominated Abiola as the candidate of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP), actively participated in the primary election and campaign for Abioa’s victory in the election and also was at the forefront of actualization of June 12 mandate said he would totally be convinced that President Buhari is not just being political about June 12 mandate of Abiola after analyzing what the President and his close aides say about Abiola on Democracy day.

“I will give my full comment tomorrow when I go over all the speeches and comments made by the President and his close aides. Then, I will know if it’s positive or negative departure front the past “the Elderstateman told our Correspondent.

On his part, Falana said after renaming stadium, President Buhari should proceed to end poverty and official immunity.

Falana said, “A resolution was passed by the Senate for the renaming of the Abuja stadium after Chief MKO Abiola under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. But the resolution was ignored. Therefore the renaming of the stadium after Chief Abiola has further demonstrated the resolve of the Buhari regime to honour the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election By conferring the highest national award on Chief Abiola, making June 12 Democracy Day and naming the national stadium after him, President Buhari has made himself a man of history. The administration should now proceed to end poverty and official impunity”.

On his part the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland,   Iba Gani Adams, said the best way to immortalize the late icon of democracy is to restructure the country.

Aare Adams who spoke during the commemoration of June 12 organized by Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, said that restructuring remains imperative if the memory of the late MKO Abiola must be honoured.

He said: “If Nigeria is properly restructured, the spate of kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and clashes will become history.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century states still go to Abuja, cap in hand, for monthly allocations. That action is, in itself, contrary to the spirit of federalism. Although we are in a democracy, Nigeria is still being governed through a unitary system.”

He also used the avenue to warn the perpetuators of kidnapping in Yorubaland to be mindful of their act, saying: “I want to say it with pride that the Yoruba were never conquered and nobody can conquer Yorubaland.

“Those behind this dastardly act should repent now or face the music soon. The patience of our people has been exhausted. As the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I must lead this battle and it will won.”

Similarly, Comrade Soetan praised Buhari for the gesture but wanted either Aso Rock or the National Assembly named after him as he was elected but not allowed to rule.

“MKO Abiola was a pillar of sport in Africa, he sponsored sports development in all branches of sport locally and internationally. He even owned two football clubs – Concord FC and Abiola Babes. So, any honor done him in sport like naming national stadium after him is a welcome development”.

He went further, “However, I will want the presidential Villa or the national assembly named after MKO Abiola too. Since he was elected and not allowed to rule by the military gangs so the seat of power will be a better honor.”

Buhari had announced the renaming while delivering his 2019 June 12 Democracy Day speech at the Eagles Square Abuja. According to Buhari, “The National Stadium in Abuja shall henceforth be known as the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.