Buhari renames Abuja National Stadium after MKO Abiola

THE National Stadium in Abuja has been renamed after the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, a Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

It was renamed after the late business mogul by President Muhammadu Buhari in his Democracy Day address at the Eagles Square, Abuja.

The results of the election adjudged as the fairest and freest were annulled by former military President Ibrahim Babangida.

But Buhari, on June 6, last year, honoured Abiola posthumously with the GCFR award, meant only for presidents.

He urged world leaders to assist his administration in rebuilding the country, saying that he spent the first tenure in laying a foundation for development.

According to him, the privileged few who want the old order would not be allowed.

Buhari said: “Our focus will not be to help the privileged few but to ensure that Nigeria works for Nigerians of all persuasions. That is a more just arrangement.

“In my first term, we put Nigeria back on its feet. We are working again despite a difficult environment in oil on which we depend too much for our exports.

“We encountered huge resistance from vested interests who do not want Change, But Change has come, we now must move to the Next Level.

“By the Grace of God, I intend to keep the oath I have made today and to serve as President for all Nigerians.”

He warned that his government would not tolerate any action aimed at drawing back the hands of the clock.

Buhari said: “We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.

“Nation building takes time. But we must take solace in the knowledge that our country has everything we require to make Nigeria prosper.”

Yesterday at the Eagle Square, the President said: “As we all know, correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity. As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and invested the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe with national honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

Buhari said: “The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential elections of that year.

“Today, I propose the renaming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called Moshood Abiola National Stadium.”

Read also: Naming national stadium after Abiola shows Buhari has good heart, says Olu Akerele

The President also said that Nigeria, if it gets its acts together, has all it takes to become a world power, noting that nations like China, India and Indonesian achieved the feat.

He noted that his administration has made remarkable progress in the fight against corruption, improving economy and securing the nation in the past four years.

The President assured that his administration would in the next four years consolidate on the achievements recorded during his first four-year tenure.

According to him, the military, police and other law enforcing agencies should be commended for working round the clock to protect Nigerians, defend its values and protecting its future.

He said: “Terrorism and insecurity are worldwide phenomena and even the best policed countries are experiencing increasing incidents of unrest and are finding things hard to cope.

“The principal thrust of this new administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavours and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria.”

With the right leadership and a sense of purpose, the President noted that 100 million Nigerians can be lifted out of poverty in 10 years.

For the next four years, he restated that his administration’s commitment to improving the people’s lives by consolidating efforts to address these key issues and emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities and dealing decisively with the new flashes of insecurity across the country, and the impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.

He said: “We are not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Instead, we are revived by this new mandate to work collaboratively with state and local government areas, legislators, the diplomatic corps and all Nigerians to rebuild and reposition our country as the heartbeat and reference point for our continent.”

Pointing out a strong correlation between economic inequality and insecurity, he said:  ”When economic inequality rises, insecurity rises. But when we actively reduce inequality through investments in social and hard infrastructure, insecurity reduces.

“The disturbing increase in rates of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities can be attributed to the decades of neglect and corruption in social investment, infrastructure development, education and healthcare.”

Dignitaries at the Eagle Square included: wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo; Senate President Ahmed Lawan; House of Representatives Speaker of Femi Gbajabiamila; representatives of the late MKO Abiola’s family led by Kola, All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.

The world leaders included: Presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Mauritania); Paul Kagame (Rwanda); George Weah (Liberia); Denis Sassou (Nguesso) and Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana).

Also at the event were: President Macky Sall (Senegal); Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda; President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou; President of Guinea-Bissau, José Mário Gómes Vaz and President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon; Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi II, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, and Jim Ovia.

State governors were: Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Umar Ganduje (Kano); Mai Mala Buni (Yobe); AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Willy Obiano (Anambra); Malam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and former Ogun State governors Olusegun Osoba and Ibikunle Amosun.

Former ministers, including Lai Mohammed, Solomon Dalung, Mansur Dan-Ali, Head of Service (HoS) Winifred Oyo-Ita and members of the diplomatic corps and service chiefs were also in attendance.

On corruption, the President traced the pervasive corruption to inequality and insecurity, saying: “When we took office we realised that if you fight corruption, corruption will fight back – and we have seen this at all levels.

“For Nigeria to progress, a collective resolution to address corruption and foster broad-based prosperity is required to create a country that is not only for a few privileged, but for all Nigerians.

“This charge is not only to civil servants, ministers, legislators and state government functionaries, but also to corporate leaders. We shall make greater investments in our rural economies. We shall aggressively source locally our raw materials.

“Over the next four years, we are committed to assembling a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.

“We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary reform, in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.

“We will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of our medical personnel to stem the flight of our best trained people.”

On his plan to diversify the country from oil, he said: “On food security, our farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame. We remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.”