Abiola would’ve doused religious, tribal tensions –Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that ethno-religious tensions would not have arisen in the country if the late MKO Abiola had been allowed to become the President in 1993.

He said the late politician had the popularity and acceptability to unite Nigerians across tribal and religious lines. These factors, he said, were the  reasons he could contest and win the election on a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Buhari spoke in Abuja when a delegation of Elders and Leaders of Thought from Ogun State visited him at the Presidential Villa.

The delegation, which was led by the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, came to thank Buhari for renaming a national monument after Abiola.

The government had also conferred the country’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, on Abiola, posthumously.

“If MKO Abiola had been allowed to rule, the religious and tribal issues now in Nigeria would not have been as strong because he ran on a  Muslim-Muslim ticket, chose his deputy from the Kanuri, a minority tribe, and because of his personality,  he went across Nigeria and was accepted.

“He used his resources and energy to convince Nigerians that all he wanted was a solid Nigeria and nothing else,” Buhari said.

The President explained that the  renaming of the National Stadium in Abuja after Abiola underscored the important sacrifice the late philanthropist paid for democracy.

The Ogun delegation presented a talking drum to Buhari as a gift.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, the governor sought the approval of the Federal Government to dualise three of its roads in the state through a Public Private Partnership.

 Abiodun named the roads as Ikorodu-Ogijo-Shagamu Road; Epe-Ijebu-Ode Road and; Lagos-Ota-Abeokua Road.

Citing the case of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road, Abiodun recalled that it was awarded in 2001 but due to poor funding, the work made little progress till date. He observed that only N1bn was budgeted for the road in 2019, while up to N26bn was needed to complete it on current assessment.

He informed Buhari that except another funding option was adopted, the project could drag on for another 26 years at the current yearly budgetary provision of N1bn.

 He said, “Ogun is named the ‘Gateway State’ for a reason. We are the gateway to one of the biggest economies on this continent, which is Lagos. You cannot go from Lagos to anywhere else without going through Ogun state.

 “Consequently, we, the gateway state, stand to benefit from providing all the services that Lagos may need, that will also put us in a position where we should be the economic capital of this country.

 “Today, we have the largest industrial hubs in Nigeria. There are no fewer than 500 companies today in Ogun State.

“So, for us, our vision in this administration  is to provide focused and qualitative governance, whilst providing an enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership, which we believe is fundamental to the economic growth of the state and individual prosperity of the citizens.”

Abiodun emphasised the need for access and connectivity between Ogun and neighbouring states of Oyo, Ondo and Osun states as well as the Republic of Benin.

Those on the delegation included the Deputy Governor, Mrs Noimot Salako, former governors Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Senator Gbenga Kaka, Segun Adesegun, Kola Abiola, some royal fathers and members of the National Assembly.
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