Shina Ogunyale is a lawyer and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks on the posthumous awards bestowed on the winner of June 12 election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and others.
President Muhammadu Buhari has honoured late Abiola and others in recognition of their role in nurturing the country’s democracy, how would you describe this development?
In my own view, it is a welcome idea. It is long overdue. It is a very good initiative in a good direction. This reminds me of the words of my late mentor; Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) that June 12 is symbolic. May 29 is not symbolic because May 29 is just like October 1st; May 29 is just a mere hand-over day from military to civilian and nothing more.
What made June 12 symbolic was because that was the only day that we had a free and fair election, well-conducted with over 40 million Nigerians across tribe and ethnic divide, went out to elect Abiola as their president. You will agree with me that we have never witnessed that type of election before and even now, an election where Abiola won across all the geopolitical zones. He even won in the hometown of his major contender, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of National Republican Convention (NRC).
The step to recognise June 12 as Democracy Day ought to have been taken since, but Chief Obasanjo may have refused to do this out of petty jealousy for the person of Abiola. Imagine a Yoruba man from the same state as Abiola failing to recognise him, but a Fulani man from Katsina has done it.
But some Nigerians have insinuated that President Buhari took this step for political reason to get the votes from South-West and spite Obasanjo. Do you agree?
I agree with them. In politics, you must be smart to outwit your opponent. That means the opposition is not smart enough to take the right step at the right time. With this, every average Nigerian will vote Buhari for removing shame from their faces. It is a thing of pride to us that our late son has joined the league of past head of state, a thing Obasanjo would have done but couldn’t out of hatred and jealousy.
Come to think of it, (Goodluck) Jonathan tried to immortalise Abiola by naming Unilag after him, but enemies of democracy scuttled that arrangement. In fact, I commended President Buhari for using executive order instead of consultation. Consultation would have run into the same hurdle that ruined Jonathan’s initiative on Abiola. I can assure you that more political moves to lure the South-east, South-south and other geopolitical zone is underway.
Were you surprised that the Late Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) also got an award?
No. The award bestowed on Gani is a well-deserved one. Remember that the award was given to him by the late Yar’Adua and he rejected it. Why? If Abiola had been honoured by Yar’Adua, Gani would have followed suit. So in this case, President Buhari honoured Abiola, Gani and others who fought for democracy and I am sure if Gani was to be alive today, he would accept the award wholeheartedly.
Do you think Kingibe deserves that award?
Looking at his political antecedent, maybe he should not have been honoured but by the virtue of the fact that he was the vice president-elect to Abiola in that election, so automatically he should enjoy all the benefits that go with that office.
But the Southeast is saying, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the then electoral umpire should not have been left out of the honour’s list, what’s your take on this matter?
Honestly speaking, Prof. Nwosu is one of my mentors. Like I said when he was appointed NEC chairman then, I had confidence in his ability to deliver. He deserved to be honoured. We will continue to speak with President Buhari to see the reason why the former NEC boss should be honoured. He didn’t compromise. If he had compromised, he would have stopped the announcement of the result. But he stuck out his neck to announce all the results. For this singular reason, I think he deserves to be recognised. June 12 is symbolic just like Prof. Nwosu. So without him, Abiola’s mandate wouldn’t have been realised.
As the person who organised that election don’t you think IBB too deserves mention?
If there is anything IBB deserve, it is to retrieve the GCFR from him because of his act of cowardice. In many of his interview, he said he annulled the election because of fear of young officers in the military who threatened to kill him if Abiola becomes the president. So such person doesn’t deserve the honour of valour at tall.
Using Agbara Community in Agbara Igbesa LCDA, would you say APC has done well in the past three years?
In fact, I am ashamed to identify myself as APC member in my community because our people are disappointed in the leadership style of Senator Ibikunle Amosu for his gross negligence of Ogun West senatorial district. Today roads are in bad shape and economy of the people in the area has come to a halt.
Is Senator Olamilekan Adeola still in the governorship race?
As a member of APC and a member of Yayi forum, I am telling you that Senator Olamilekan Adeola is in the Ogun governorship race. Recently he addressed his supporters in Abeokuta where he reaffirmed his stance to run for the governorship race in 2019. The news that Yayi is no longer in the race is from detractors and come 2019, he will prove his worth at the poll. (The Sun)