Stadium naming: ‘Why MKO deserves more’
On June 12, 2019, at the refocused Democracy Day celebration, President Muhammadu Buhari named the National Stadium, Abuja after Nigeria’s icon of democracy, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, MKO. While the posthumous honour has been lauded as a move to immortalise him, some have viewed it as a mismatch, arguing that the Eagle Square which is Nigeria’s centre of political activities was a more befitting insignia of the political ideals MKO stood for. David LAWAN and Williams ABAH encountered some Nigerians who bared their minds on the matter. Excerpts:
CALISTUS CHIME: Well, it is not a bad idea. MKO Abiola's pedigree as a well-known politician and business man deserve such a national honour. However, I think the Nigerian Government has not done well for not recognizing Abiola's family.
The circumstances that led to Abiola’s death came as a result of the failure of government to recognize democratic values. So it is expected that the government carries members of his family along. But that was not the case as none of Abiola's family members has been given any political appointment since his death while in prison custody.
Since the government and, indeed, all Nigerians have attested to the fact that he actually won the June 12, 1993 general election, they must not also forget to give his family a sense of belonging.
YAKUBU DANLADI: For Abiola, such a national honour is well deserved. MKO played a vital role in different areas of human endeavours in Nigeria. His political status towers above all. And that was the reason President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 every year as democracy day.
However, I would prefer he was given a posthumous honour by naming a public edifice associated with politics after him. Some people argued that he was a sportsman, and that he had won some trophies in sports during his lifetime. But the reason for naming the national stadium after him was because of his role in bringing democracy to the country after many years of military rule.
That notwithstanding, the declaration of June 12 as democracy day has indeed demonstrated that we appreciate the role he played in the aborted third republic.
ADEBAYO AJULO: The naming of the national stadium after MKO Abiola is long overdue. We all know the sacrifice he made to ensure that democracy is entrenched in Nigeria. He paid the supreme price that deserves this national honour earlier than now. I want to suggest that government keeps accurate record of what happened in June 12, 1993 general election.
It would serve as a reference point for government to learn from that grave mistake. Naming the national stadium after Late Abiola will not return him to life to fulfil his desired ambition. Those who see political power as a do or die affair should bear in mind that no human being lives forever. Hence the need for all politicians to stop playing politics of bitterness.
Now that the government has recognized Abiola and immortalized him what is next? Those who masterminded his downfall should be made to face the full weight of the law; and I think that would serve as a deterrent to others who may want to perpetrate such a treasonable crime. Justice can be given at any time. It does not matter how long it delays. The basic thing is that those who seek redress should be given justice.
OKOKORO TUNDE: I see nothing wrong with honouring Abiola, except that some of these actions are not borne out of a genuine intention to set the records straight. I am not against naming the national stadium after MKO. But why was the stadium not properly rehabilitated before it was eventually named after him?
I am also aware that there is another stadium named after him in South West. As huge as the impact of Abiola was, something more functional should have been named after so people could see and remember him, not this stadium that is not in use. It is filled with grasses, open defecation; nothing is working there.
I know it is all politics but they should not soil his reputation through this less befitting edifice. MKO deserves more than this. He fought for democracy. For that, he should be more respected than the way he is being treated by these politicians. How come the University of Lagos named after him was not allowed to see the light of the day?
IKE GODWIN: Government should be encouraged and possibly commended for a job well done. It is only a government that is willing and ready to serve that can go to such an extent. It is a demonstration of commitment by the Buhari administration. June 12 symbolises hope for victory and I do not see naming such a monument after such a man as wrong.
It shows that government can do more in his memory by ensuring that those other ideals he shared can be revived for the good of Nigerians. Government can do a lot of things if it truly cares. His free education policies and programmes should be critically looked into.
The stadium is big enough to have his footprint as a mark of hope for generations to come. How can you honour someone like Abiola more than this stadium? This stadia is one of the best in the country. I want to request that it should start hosting different sporting programmes since he was a lover of sports.