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Tributes, as Lagos, Activists Honour Kudirat Abiola

By Lekan Sanni, Clifford Ndujihe and Lekan Okusan, Seun Adeoye and Iyabo Sotunde, The Guardian, 5 June 2001

Lagos, Osogbo, Ibadan—Tributes yesterday poured in torrents for the late amazon of pro-democracy activism, Alhaja Kudirat Olayinka Abiola, as thousands of citizens trooped to various venues where anniversary of her murder on Lagos street, five years ago, was commemorated.

Remarkably in the South-West, ordinary citizens kept the flame aglow in remembrance of the June 4, 1996 incident which had thrown the nation into mourning.

In Lagos, the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration continued the tradition it began last year, of immortalising the deceased by renaming a newly dualised road after her.

Dualised at N990 million, the road from Ojota to Oregun in the Lagos mainland is now Kudirat Abiola Way.

Last year, a cenotaph erected at the 7-up Junction of the Secretariat Road, Ikeja where she was murdered, was commissioned in her honour.

Yesterday's ceremony was attended by a mammoth crowd, including Senator Polycarp Nwite, senior wife of the Abiola clan, Adebisi, and four of the late Kudirat's children led by Hafsat.

Speaking at the ceremony, Governor Tinubu said his government decided to immortalise the martyr of democracy to serve as a reminder to the assassins that they did not kill the ideal she represented.

He said: This day last year, we were gathered as we are today at the memorial monument of Kudirat Olayinka Abiola. If you all recall, on that occasion, we said that the monument was erected as a mark of our salute to her courage, convictions and principled stand on the side of democracy.

Lagosians have pledged to constantly nudge the consciences of the evil doers who murdered our mother of democracy in cold blood on the anniversary of her death.

The naming of this beautiful road after Kudirat Olayinka Abiola today, the fifth anniversary of her death, is in fulfilment of that pledge. It would also serve as a poser in the conscience of the evil doers who must be reminded constantly that you can only kill a person, you cannot kill an idea.

According to the governor, the road renamed after the late Kudirat is our authoritative declaration of her triumph over her killers and another monumental testimony to her march into immortality

Tinubu said that Lagosians who suffered more during the struggle for democracy, must be determined more than ever before to protect that democracy, majority rule and the rule of law.

He went on: This is the only way that we can do honour to MKO, his wife and all those such as Pa Alfred Rewane, Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Dr. Omotshola, Rear Admiral Elegbede and several youths cut down by the despot's guns during the protest for the restoration of the annulled victory of MKO.

Tinubu said that the road was dualised to ease perennial traffic bottlenecks along the Ikeja and Oregun axis, with main features like concrete side drains/culvert, median kerbs and lay-byes, sidewalk, laterite sub-base, service ducts to avoid tar cut, street lights among others.

The governor said that the road was constructed to specification, withstand traffic pressure with long life span, adding that apart from easing traffic, it would ensure the socio-economic development of the area by facilitating commerce and trade.

Tinubu said that in the next two weeks, construction giant Julius Berger, will move to the Idi-Oro-Babalosa stretch of the Agege Motor Road which is in a very bad shape, since the Federal Government has refused to carry out necessary repairs on it.

But he said that the Abuja authorities must refund the N2.5 billion spent by his administration to rehabilitate abandoned federal roads.

The governor promised to use the next two years to continue fulfilling his electoral promises, with more people having access to better healthcare, quality education, effective social services and security of lives and property.

He urged the people of the state to promote peace and peaceful co-existence which, he noted, prosperity depends on.

He hinted that plans are on to also immortalise Chief M.K.O Abiola by the state government.

Hafsat thanked the governor for honouring her mother and she also thanked Nigerians for remembering her.

In Osun, activists led by the state branch of the National Consciences Party (NCP) poured onto the streets to honour Kudirat.

Speakers at the commemoration services held at the state NCP office, berated those they referred to as beneficiaries of the June election annulment as callous politicians who have so soon forgotten democracy martyrs.

NCP Deputy National Chairman, (South-West), Mr. Akintolu Shittu, its state chairman, Mr. Waheed Lawal and the state president of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE), Dr. Oyebade Olowogboyega expressed displeasure at today's politicians especially the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the South-West for not doing what actually is beffiting to Abiola's family.

In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) admonished the Federal Government to declare the day a national day.

The students who frowned at President Olusegun Obasanjo's attitude towards striking university teachers reminded the government that the lingering strike would further adversely affect the naiton's ailing education sector.

NANS in a statement made available to The Guardian commended the late Kudirat for her efforts in restoring democracy to the country and urged government to constitute an independent panel of enquiry to investigate the gruesome murder.