Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Dr Fredrick Fasehun would be honoured as the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) celebrates its silver jubilee anniversary on Thursday in Lagos.
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, said in a statement on Sunday that the journey that started 25 years ago was not an easy thing.
The Aare Onakakanfo explained that it was the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election that culminated in the establishment of OPC.
“The zeal and patriotism of some Yoruba nationalists to liberate Nigeria from the brutal, ferocious and savage hold of military junta led to the thrusting of OPC into national consciousness on Aug, 29 1994”.
“The late Dr Frederick Fasehun, myself and seven others took a critical and patriotic decision that the mandate of the late Aare Moshood Abiola (M.K.O.), annulled must be actualised and Nigeria must be set free from the clutches of dictatorship.
“Five years after the formation of OPC, democracy took a firm root in the country in 1999; today it is a thing of joy that we have 20 years of uninterrupted, participatory democracy in Nigeria.
“But this is not without sacrifice, the late Abiola, whose mandate was annulled in 1993, alongside OPC leaders, fought for the actualisation of the June 12.
“But sadly, the business mogul died in detention in controversial circumstances during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 7, 1998,” Adams said.
The OPC leader said that many Nigerians that protested the continued detention of Abiola were shot on the streets by soldiers between 1993 and 1998. .
“Some Nigerians such as Pa Alfred Rewane, Mrs Kudirat Abiola, Alhaja Suliat Adedeji, Admiral Tunde Elegbede, James Bagauda Kaltho, Shola Omasola, Oluwatoyin Onagoruwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa were killed.
“Activists and journalists such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Frank Kokori, Kunle Ajibade, Chris Anyanwu, Ben Charles-Obi, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Babafemi Ojudu and others were detained and some jailed.
”Prof. Wole Soyinka, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others were forced to relocate from Nigeria, it was a period of persecution, victimisation and wickedness.
“But today, democracy has come to stay. OPC is 25 years and we have every reason to remember Nigeria’s heroes and those who have been forgotten,” he said.
Adams also expressed regret that despite the death of a number of nationalists and sacrifices of the fallen heroes, not so much had been achieved with democracy.
He, however, said that with the determination of the group not to relent and continue pressing for better change, Nigeria, and the Yoruba nation will be liberated.
“Though, democracy is here, we are still faced with several challenges. Part of these challenges is the spate of insecurity in the country, but I am optimistic that Nigeria and the Yorubaland in particular, will get it right one day,” Adams said.
Adams said that Prof. Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science, University Of Lagos, and the Electoral Commissioner, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) would deliver a public lecture.
He said that special Awards would be presented to 21 eminent Nigerians.
“Some of the recipients of the OPC special posthumous awards include the late Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo, the late Moshood MKO Abiola, Gani Fawehinmi, Dr Beko Ransome- Kuti.
“Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Abraham Adesanya, Justice Adewale Thompson, Amb. Segun Olusola, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Olumide Adeniji, Tony Ngrube, Prof. Sophie Oluwole.
”Ibraheem Abobanawo and the founding father and Spiritual leader of the Congress, the late Dr Fredrick Faseun.
Prof. Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana, Femi Aborishade, Kehinde Oluwole, the Managing Director of Freedom Online, Gabriel Akinadewo; Dr Joe Okei- Odumakin and Yemisi Shylon, among others.
“The awards are to appreciate all the recipients for playing different roles in the course of the struggle to liberate the nation,” he said.