IF the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye Presidential Committee are accepted, the federal executive council may soon approve the scrapping of 321 out of 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies. The FEC started discussion on the draft White Paper on the report on Wednesday, June 12. Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, dropped the hint while speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Abati said there was no cause for anxiety in the government’s bid to restructure for efficiency. He disclosed that a White Paper Drafting Committee set up by the president accepted only 321 out of the 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies considered by the Oronsaye committee. “The Oronsaye Committee considered suggestions and recommendations from different quarters in respect of 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies. The white paper drafting committee, accepted 321 out of that number and noted some recommendations and rejected some,” Abati said. He made it clear that the exercise was not aimed at pushing anybody out of employment but to restructure in such a way that it would make the government more efficient. He said the discussion by FEC members on the draft would continue at the next meeting.
Twenty Years After June 12
IT was the celebration of one their own. On Wednesday, June 12, all the states in the South-West, except one, shut down business in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential election in which the late Moshood Abiola, a business mogul, emerged winner. But the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, a general and the then military president, on June 23. In the struggle that followed, hundreds of people were killed and properties worth billions of naira were destroyed. In honour of Abiola, who eventually died in detention in July 1998, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states declared the day (June 12) a public holiday. The day was also marked with various activities. It was only Ondo State, which did not declare a public holiday, but commemorated the day with a lecture.
In Lagos alone, there were at least five activities, which attracted people from all walks of life at various venues across the metropolis.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, called for an end to impunity in the polity. At Abiola’s house in Ikeja, Lagos, a wreath was laid on his grave. Fashola and Tinubu criticised the culture of impunity that is threatening the survival of democracy. Speaking at an event organised by the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the June 12, Coalition of Democratic Formations, J12CODEF, they called for an electoral system that would guarantee a smooth transition in a democratic government.
Fashola said the lessons learnt from the June 12, 1993 election was enough to show the way for the nation to avoid threading the path that plunged it into its present situation. He said the process leading to the annulment of the elections as well as the inability of Abiola to regain his freedom were key pointers to the consequences of flagrant abuse of law and order. Fashola faulted the move by President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after Abiola, saying the process was a sham and a disrespect for law and order.
“Lately, an institution of higher learning, created by an Act of parliament, which gave the institution its name, was visited with an action that, in my view, was done to mock the memories of Abiola. The name of the institution was changed to MKO’s name without changing the law. I venture to argue that MKO would have distanced himself from such action if he were alive,” Fashola said.
Tinubu, who was represented by Ayo Opadokun, secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which led the struggle at the time, said Abiola’s struggle left a mark on the progressives to ensure the era of June 12 never repeats itself. “It is a protest that gave birth to democracy and it is the protest that will keep it on its toes. When Abiola fought for the recognition of his mandate, he did it in the spirit of protest, many people went to the streets to protest, Abiola and Alfred Rewane died in the spirit of protest. Those who stand against protest do so in the spirit of tyranny, that the military prides itself in. I dare say that we stand to ensure that never again will a mufti crowd of people deny us of our fundamental rights.”
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, led a march by senior government officials in Abeokuta, the state capital, which incidentally is Abiola’s home state. The march terminated at his compound in the ancient city. On his part, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State urged the federal government to identify Abiola’s killers and bring them to justice. He also asked the government to announce the result of the presidential election which is adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest ever and declare Abiola the true winner and thereafter, accord him his rightful place in history. Aregbesola commended Abiola’s family members and condoled with them over the sacrifice paid by their bread winner for the enthronement of democracy.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in his own little way, celebrated the day while inaugurating the Board of the Police Service Commission, by describing June 12 as “a unique day that has changed the political history’’ of the country. “Today is also a unique day, June 12, a date that has changed the political history of this country in one way or the other. In some parts of the country, some state governments have declared public holiday to mark today, but at the centre, it has not been formally recognised as a public holiday. We appreciate what happened on this day that you are being inaugurated. I think it is a unique date,’’ he said.