President Muhammadu Buhari has described the late MKO Abiola as a bridge builder who could have prevented the religious and tribal issues besetting the country now from coming up if he had been allowed to rule Nigeria.
The President stated this on Tuesday in Abuja, when he received elders and leaders of thought from Ogun State, at the State House.
“If MKO Abiola was allowed to rule, the religious and tribal issues now in Nigeria would not have been as strong because he ran on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, chose his deputy from Kanuri, a minority tribe, and because of his personality, he went across Nigeria and was accepted.
“He used his resources and energy to convince Nigerians that all he wanted was a solid Nigeria and nothing else.”
President Buhari also said that he named the National Stadium, a national monument, after the late politician because he knew that the youths would, in future, want to find out why such an important national institution was named after MKO Abiola.
He expressed appreciation to Governor Dapo Abiodun for mobilising such a strong delegation to thank him for the gesture towards their illustrious son.
The Ogun State delegation, led by the governor, had come to thank the President for the honour done to Abiola, a native of Ogun.
President Buhari had conferred on Abiola the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), for his ultimate sacrifice in enthroning democracy.
The delegation, which presented a big talking drum to the President, also used the opportunity to solicit the rehabilitation of some federal roads as well as other critical infrastructure.
They told the President that the rehabilitation, if carried out, would check the persistent gridlock occasioned by the movement of consignments along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that Abiola, who ran for presidency in 1993, was imprisoned, and later died in incarceration while fighting for his mandate.
The late business mogul was coasting to victory when Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), then military president, annulled the polls.
Buhari has, however, formally recognised Abiola as winner of that election and apologised to his family and Nigerians for the injustice meted to him which eventually led to his incarceration, and subsequent death.
He also declared June 12, the day of that election, as the nation’s Democracy Day to be celebrated every year to commemorate Abiola’s victory and sacrifice toward entrenching democracy in the country.