By George Aluo
Sports minister, Sunday Dare has declared that Late Africa Pillar of Sports, Bashorun MKO Abiola (GCFR) remains the nation’s greatest sports lover.
Dare who spoke today (June 12) during the unveiling of the renamed Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja noted that the Ogun State born acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election was a consummate sports lover.
While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for adding a significant chapter to the democratic culture of Nigeria, Dare declared: “Sportsmen, sportswomen and sports lovers thank Mr. President for honoring someone who remains unrivaled as the greatest sports lover, investor and Philantrophist. Abiola was a consummate sports lover. He invested his time and resources in sports development particular football. Not many sports administrators will forget Abiola in a hurry.”
The minister who walked the memory lane, recalling how he (Dare) as a journalist, over two decades ago, went to Geshua near Maiduguri to interview Abiola in prison stated that MKO who eventually paid the supreme sacrifice, watered Nigeria’s tree of democracy with his death.
In Dare’s words:”This and many other reasons are why today is significant for me and for most Nigerians and lovers of Democracy. We are grateful, first to God who has kept many of the actors and participants alive and most importantly to President Muhammadu Buhari who has demonstrated courage where other leaders before him failed and who has further validated his democratic credentials by recognizing Abiola’s democratic value, apologizing for the political injustice and declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day. He also honored and conferred on Chief Abiola with the highest honor of the land GCFR- post humorously.
This event is auspicious in not just the celebration of a great Nigerian, Pan Africanist per excellence and a great lover and promoter of sports, but another opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the labour and supreme sacrifice of this pillar and symbol of democracy was not in vain.”
On the significance of renaming the national edifice after Abiola, Dare stated:”This renaming beyond its symbolism will remain a reminder through time of the indelible footprints Chief Abiola left in our political and sports development as a nation.
The naming of this stadium will serve to beckon to other Nigerians with ways and means like Abiola to emulate him and embrace, support and invest in sports development. Under this dispensation we have seen Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Adebutu Keshington step up to the plate to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the quest to restore our sporting infrastructure such as this. We thank them and several others supporting in their own little ways.
This event is an attestation of President Buhari’s vision and mission of giving recognition to worthy citizens and to encourage the younger generation to join him in building a strong, virile and indivisible nation. It also demonstrates the determination of the Administration to ensure that the achievements of our heroes past are forever etched in stone and their memories do not die with them. Chief Abiola will continue to be remembered for laying down his life so that our Democracy may thrive.”