By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
It’s exactly one year ago today that President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rtd General Muhamadu Buhari declared June 12, as the new Democracy Day in Nigeria as well as renaming the Abuja National Stadium after the winner of June 12, 1993, Presidential Election, Late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
In a bid to officially rename the stadium and change its appellation from Abuja to M.K.O. Abiola International Stadium, new signage for the stadium was unveiled on Friday, June 12, 2020.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare, during the unveiling eulogised President Muhammadu Buhari for the honour of renaming the National Stadium after the winner of the acclaimed June 12th, 1993 presidential election Chief Moshood Abiola, describing the President as a man who chose to walk the path many failed to.
In his welcome address at the first anniversary of the renaming and the unveiling of the Moshood Abiola National stadium in Abuja, the Minister disclosed that the occasion was an attestation of the President’s vision and mission of giving recognition to worthy citizens while encouraging the younger generation to join him in building a “strong, virile, and indivisible nation.”
While also describing the late MKO Abiola as a great Pan Africanist and a great lover and promoter of sports, he said, “Abiola was a consummate sports lover. He invested his time and resources in sports development, particularly football. Not many sports administrators will forget Abiola in a hurry.
“It is therefore, fitting and proper for President Buhari to have named our national stadium, an iconic monument after such an illustrious citizen and a lover of sports. This renaming beyond its symbolism will remain a reminder through the 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 Kessington 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 little ways.
“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.”
The President was represented at the occasion by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Mallam Musa Bello as the Special Guest of Honour at the event while Kola Abiola son of the late Moshood Abiola represented the family.
Other dignitaries at the occasion were the Minister of Trade and Investment Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity Barr. Festus Keyamo, DG NYSC Brig. General Ibrahim Shuaibu, General Secretary of the NFF Dr. Sanusi Muhammed, Chairman League Management Company Alhaji Shehu Dikko among others.
MKO Abiola was a sports-loving philanthropist during his lifetime as he founded defunct Nigerian League side, Abiola Babes before his death. His magnanimous gesture helped the club represent Nigeria at continental competitions before it became moribund.
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