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PHOTOS: Nigeria spoke as one on June 12, says Kola Abiola at rebranding of MKO stadium

PHOTOS: Nigeria spoke as one on June 12, says Kola Abiola at rebranding of MKO stadium
June 12
18:44 2020

Kola Abiola, the first son of late Moshood Abiola, says Nigeria will always remember June 12, as the day it “spoke as one filled with hope for a greater tomorrow.”

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Kola was speaking on Friday during the official unveiling of the signage at the MKO Abiola Stadium, which was formerly the Abuja National Stadium.

He said the renaming of the sport complex after his late father showed that the nation’s hope in democracy is restored.

“And so from today, we’ll always remember the day in June when we spoke as one filled with hope for a greater tomorrow,” Kola said.

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“It was a day like we had never seen before. We left our homes to cast our votes leaving behind all the things that we liked.

“We spoke all as one, filled with hope. Our hope was raised, our hope was dashed, our hope was strangled and caged taking with it our messenger of hope.

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“And when we thought our hope was forever gone, our land retraced its steps and the people requested a whole new life.

“We remember those who stood for it, those who stood against it and those who paid with their lives. Those who never gave up, those who were too young to know and those who came much later.

“We also give thanks to the Commander-in-chief, that’s the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to the people and friends of Nigeria, to those who believe in the promise of this land.”

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Last year, Buhari had, while delivering his speech during the Democracy Day celebrations, named the Abuja stadium after Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 election.

In his remark, Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, commended the president for recognising Abiola’s democratic value.

He also described Buhari as a man who chose to walk the path many failed to.

“It is therefore fitting and proper for President Buhari to have named our national stadium, an iconic monument after such an illustrious citizen and a lover of sports. This renaming beyond its symbolism will remain a reminder through time of the indelible footprints Chief Abiola left in our political and sports development as a nation,” he said.

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“The naming of this stadium will serve to beckon to other Nigerians with ways and means like Abiola to emulate him and embrace, support and invest in sports development.

“Under this dispensation we have seen Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Adebutu Kessington step up to the plate to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the quest to restore our sporting infrastructure such as this. We thank them and several others supporting in their own little ways.

“We are grateful, first to God who has kept many of the actors and participants alive and most importantly to President Muhammadu Buhari who has demonstrated courage where other leaders before him failed and who has further validated his democratic credentials by recognizing Abiola’s democratic value, apologizing for the political injustice and declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day. He also honored and conferred on Chief Abiola with the highest honor of the land GCFR- post humorously.”

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Mohammed Bello, FCT minister, who represented Buhari at the unveiling, said Buhari’s action is aimed to appreciate Abiola for his many contributions to Nigeria.

“This ceremony is the fulfillment of the promise made by the president Muhammadu Buhari to rename the national stadium Abuja after the late chief Moshood Kashimawo Olalekan Abiola, GCFR in appreciation of his many contributions and other endeavors to Nigeria,” he said.

“Today, It is a celebration of Nigeria democracy.”

Lekan Afolabi, deputy chairman, house committee on sports, who represented the national assembly at the unveiling, thanked the president for the recognition on Abiola when other leaders before him “failed” to do so.

“We thank Mr President for having the courage to do what others have not been able to do before. Because they lack the courage by naming the Abuja stadium after MKO Abiola, a man that laid his life down for the democracy that we enjoy today,” Afolabi said.

Other dignitaries at the occasion include Adeniyi Adebayo, minister of trade and investment; Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and productivity; Ibrahim Shuaibu, DG of NYSC’ Sanusi Muhammed, secretary-general of NFF; and Shehu Dikko, chairman, League Management Company (LMC).

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