Former Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), Gen Alani Akinrinade, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to join hands with state governors towards tackling insecurity in the country, noting that it will be impossible to have peace in an unstable environment.
“We can’t have peace when our people are being kidnapped and money is being taken from them,” said Akinrinade at an event, “June 12: Lighting the Candle of Democracy”, held in Ado Ekiti yesterday to commemorate June 12 Democracy Day.
Akinrinade, who applauded Buhari for branding June 12 Democracy Day, suggested that the day should also be set aside for the inauguration of incoming president and governors, to add glamour.
On the allegation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that President Buhari was plotting to Fulanise and Islamise Nigeria, Akinrinade said: “Don’t let us have the intention that President Buhari will Fulanise us.
“I have always believed that a criminal is a criminal, whether you are a Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa, when you commit offence, you must be treated as a criminal. It is not good to link every Fulani man to Buhari.”
Akinrinade stated that the “Fulanisation and Islamisation” accusation by Obasanjo had been settled by the honour bestowed on Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll.
The former army boss noted that “Buhari was one of the first retired generals to stand up for June 12, but they became disappointed because of the inordinate ambitions of our people here in Yoruba, so they became scared until they were told that not all the Yorubas are treacherous.”
“So, what he did was not for MKO Abiola, but for the growth of our democracy”, he stressed.
Addressing the gathering, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll and the honour conferred on the presumed winner of the election, Chief Abiola showed the country needed strong and virile political institutions.
The governor described those who opposed the annulment of the June 12 presidential election as committed patriots, who did the sacrifice in the interest of democracy and not for the late Abiola.
He said: “Some of those saying the June 12 was not worth dying for were poor students of history and not abreast of the war waged by people to restore democracy in the country.
“Over 70 per cent of our close to 200 million population did not have firsthand information about June 12, so those of us who knew what transpired must acknowledge the struggle.
“One thing is clear, there won’t be May 29 without June 12 and that was why President Buhari decided to honour the late Abiola.
“The honour was not just about the man, but about Nigerians who voted for Chief MKO Abiola.
“Some of us in the radical fold believed Chief Abiola was a military collaborator, who used his money to fund coups. He was a capitalist but a populist on the other hand, because of his strong philanthropic gesture.
“The man represented Nigeria in all its ramifications and he understood all the contradictions, so there are lessons to be learnt, especially with the way President Buhari decided to honour this man, who died for democracy.
“That is why we have to strengthen this democracy; we are not yet where we are supposed to be.”
Others who harped on the need for strong and potent political institutions in Nigeria at the event were: the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye and the former Editor of defunct Diet Newspaper, Mr. Niran Malaolu.
The discussants included: Professor Bolaji Aluko and the General Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, Chief Ayo Afolabi.