President’ MKO Abiola’s Inaugural Address Delivered on June 11, 1994

Full text of the Epetedo, Lagos proclamation
delivered by the late M.K.O. Abiola on
Saturday, June 11, 1994.
People of Nigeria, exactly one year ago, you
turned out in your millions to vote for me,
Chief M.K.O. Abiola, as the President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. But politicians in
uniform, who call themselves soldiers but are
more devious than any civilian would want to
be, deprived you of your God-given right to be
ruled by the President you had yourselves
elected.
These soldier-politicians introduced into our
body politic, a concept hitherto unknown to
our political lexicography, something strangely
called the “annulment” of an election
perceived by all to have been the fairest,
cleanest and most peaceful ever held in our
nation.
Since that abominable act of naked political
armed robbery occurred, I have been
constantly urged by people of goodwill, both
in Nigeria and abroad, to put the matter back
into the people’s hands and get them to
actualise the mandate they gave me at the
polls. But mindful of the need to ensure that
peace continues to reign in our fragile
federation, I have so far tried to pursue sweet
reason and negotiation.
My hope has always been to arouse whatever
remnants of patriotism are left in the hearts of
these thieves of your mandate, and to
persuade them that they should not allow
their personal desire to rule to usher our
beloved country into an era of political
instability and economic ruin.
All I have sought to do, in seeking dialogue
with them, has been to try and get them to
realise that only real democracy can move our
nation forward towards progress, and earn her
the respect she deserves from the international
community.
However, although this peaceful approach has
exposed me to severe censure by some who
have mistaken it for weakness on my part,
those with whom I have sought to dialogue
have remained like stones, neither stirred to
show loyalty to the collective decision of the
people of their own country, nor to observe
Allah’s injunction that they should exhibit
justice and fair-play in all their dealings with
their fellowmen.
Appeals to their honour as officers and
gentlemen of the gallant Nigerian Armed
Forces, have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, they
have resorted to the tactics of divide and rule,
bribery and political perfidy, misinformation
and (vile) propaganda. They arrest everyone
who disagrees with them. Even the 71-year
old hero of our nation, Chief Anthony Enahoro,
was not spared. How much longer can we
tolerate all this? People of Nigeria, you are all
witnesses that I have tried to climb the
highest mountain, cross the deepest river and
walk the longest mile, in order to get these
men to obey the will of our people.
There is no humiliation I have not endured, no
snare that has not been put in my path, no
“setup” that has not been designed for me in
my endeavour to use the path of peace to
enforce the mandate that you bestowed on me
one year ago. It has been a long night. But
the dawn is here.
Today, people of Nigeria, I join you all in
saying, “Enough is Enough!” We have endured
24 years of military rule in our 34 years of
independence.
Military rule has led to our nation fighting a
civil war with itself. Military rule has
destabilised our nation today as not before in
its history. Military rule has impoverished our
people and introduced a dreadful trade in
drugs which has made our country’s name an
anathema in many parts of the world. Even
soccer fans going to watch the Green Eagles
display in America are being made to suffer
there needlessly because Nigeria’s name is
linked with credit card and fraud and “419.”
Politically, military rule has torn to shreds the
prestige due to our country because of its size
and population.
The permanent seat at the United Nations
Security Council that should be rightfully ours,
is all but lost. For who will vote for Nigeria to
get the seat if Nigerian military rulers do not
respect the votes of their own people?
Enough of military rule. We are sickened to
see people who have shown little or no
personal achievement, either in building up
private businesses, or making success of any
tangible thing, being placed in charge of the
management of our nation’s economy, by
rulers who are not accountable to anyone.
Enough of square pegs in round holes. We are
tired of then military repetitive tendency to
experiment with our economy: Today, they say
“no controls.” Tomorrow; they say “Full
controls”. The day after, they say “Fine
tuning”.
The next day, they say “Devaluation.” A few
days later, they say “Revalue the same naira
upwards again Abi?” All we can see are the
consequences of this permanent game of
military “about turns;” high inflation, a huge
budget deficit and an enormous foreign debt
repayment burden, dying industries, high
unemployment and a demoralised populace.
Our youths, in particular, can see no hope on
the horizon, and many can only dream of
escaping from our shores to join the brain
drain. Is this the Nigeria we want? We are
plagued also by periodic balance of payments
crises, which have led to a perennial shortage
of essential drugs, that has turned our
hospitals and clinics into mortuaries.
A scarcity of books and equipment has
rendered our schools into desolate deserts of
ignorance. Our factories are crying for
machinery, spare parts and raw materials. But
each day that passes, instead of these
economic diseases being cured, they are rather
strengthened as an irrational allocation of
foreign exchange based on favouritism and
corruption becomes the order of the day.
Enough is enough of economic
mismanagement! People of Nigeria, during the
election campaign last year, I presented you
with a programme entitled “HOPE ’93. This
programme was aimed precisely at solving
these economic (problems) that have
demoralised us all. I toured every part of
Nigeria to present this programme to you the
electorate. I was questioned on it at public
rallies and press conferences and I had the
privilege of incorporating into it much of the
feedback that I obtained from the people.
Because you knew I would not only listen to
you but deliver superb results from the
programme, you voted for me in your millions
and gave me an overwhelming majority over
my opponent. To be precise, you gave me 58.4
per cent of the popular vote and a majority in
20 out of 30 states plus the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja. Not only that, you also
enabled me to fulfil the constitutional
requirement that the winner should obtain
one-third of the votes in two-thirds of the
states.
I am sure that when you cast an eye on the
moribund state of Nigeria today, you ask
yourselves: “What have we done to deserve
this, when we have a president- elect who can
lead a government that can change things for
the better? Our patience has come to an end.
As of now, from this moment, a new
Government of National Unity is in power
throughout the length and breadth of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria, led by me,
Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, as President and
Commander-in-Chief. The National Assembly
is hereby reconvened. All dismissed governors
are reinstated.
The State Assemblies are reconstituted, as are
all local government councils. I urge them to
adopt a bi-partisan approach to all the issues
that come before them. At the national level, a
bi-partisan approach will be our guiding
principle. I call upon the usurper, General Sani
Abacha, to announce his resignation forthwith,
together with the rest of his illegal ruling
council. We are prepared to enter into
negotiations with them to work out the
mechanics for a smooth transfer of power.
I pledge that if they hand over quietly, they
will be retired with all their entitlements, and
their positions will be accorded all the respect
due to them. For our objective is neither
recrimination nor witch-hunting, but an
enforcement of the will of the Nigerian people,
as expressed in free elections conducted by
the duly constituted authority of the time.
I hereby invoke the mandate bestowed upon
me by my victory in the said election, to call
on all members of the Armed Forces and the
Police, the Civil and Public Services
throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to
obey only the Government of National Unity
that is headed by me, your only elected
President.
My Government of National Unity is the only
legitimate, constituted authority in the Federal
Republic of Nigeria, as of now. People of
Nigeria, these are challenging times in the
history of our continent, Africa, and we in
Nigeria must not allow ourselves to be left
behind. Our struggle is the same as that
waged by the people of South Africa, which
has been successfully concluded, with the
inauguration of Mr. Nelson Mandela as the
first African President of that country.
Nelson Mandela fought to replace MINORITY
rule with MAJORITY rule. We in Nigeria are
also fighting to replace MINORITY rule, for we
are ruled by only a tiny section of our armed
forces. Like the South Africans, we want
MAJORITY rule today, that is rule only by
those chosen by all the people of Nigeria as a
whole in free and fair elections.
The only difference between South Africa and
Nigeria is that those who imposed minority
rule on the majority rule whether it is by black
or white, remains minority rule, and must be
booted out. I call on you, heroic people of
Nigeria, to emulate the actions of your
brothers and sisters in South Africa and stand
up as one person to throw away the yoke of
minority rule for ever.The antics of every
minority that oppresses the majority are
always the same. They will try to intimidate
you with threats of police action. But do not
let us fear arrest. In South Africa, so many
people were arrested, during the campaign
against the Pass Laws, for instance, that the
jails could not hold all of them. Today,
apartheid is gone forever.
So, let it be with Nigeria. Let us say goodbye
forever to minority rule by the military. They
talk of treason. But haven’t they heard of the
Rivonia treason trial in South Africa? Did
those treason trials halt the march of history?
People of Nigeria, our time is now. You are
the repository of power in the land.
No one can give you power. It is yours. Take
it! From this day, show to the world that
anyone who takes the people of Nigeria for
fools is deceiving himself and will have the
people to answer to. God bless you all. Long
live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Long live
the Government of National Unity.

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