…Says Monument’ll Forever Preserve Legacy, Greatness of Late Symbol of Democracy
…We’re Eternally Grateful To You, Family Tells Gov
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday unveiled a 46-feet statue of Nigeria’s symbol of democracy and adjudged winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO), expressing optimism that the monument will forever crystallize what he stood for in his lifetime.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the unveiling of the statue at the MKO Abiola Garden in Alapere, Ketu said it was in the tradition of the State Government to recognise and remember heroes and heroines who contributed to the greatness of the nation and the State in particular, adding that MKO Abiola deserves the best from the State as Lagos was his success story.
Alluding to the fact that a statue was previously sited at the location, the Governor said that his administration decided to erect bigger statues for MKO Abiola and late Rights Activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi to properly situate their immense contribution to nation building.
“There was a statue done by my predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola but in the divine world, some things are more glorious than what you think and so we decided at the end of 2016 that we should do bigger statues for Chief Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiola since almost everybody passing and entering Lagos go through this particular Ojota axis and so we started late in 2016 that we should build something bigger and so it took us about a year to do this. By the time we did the one for Gani to celebrate his posthumous birthday on April 22, we also agreed that we should unveil that of MKO Abiola today, June 12.
“But just as if God has a way of crowning all efforts to mark the 25th Anniversary of June 12, our President, President Muhammadu Buhari has deemed it fit to give our own MKO Abiola the highest honour in the land, GCFR and that is why we believe strongly that your presence here is not just for this statue but it is also historic which we would always remember in the annals of the history and politics of this country that sooner than later, there would be one day we would mark as MKO Abiola Day.
“We are very happy to gather here today at the MKO Abiola garden to unveil this statue, a monument that will forever crystallize his legacy, serves as a reminder to the greatness that Chief Abiola represents in our socio-political landscape,” the Governor said.
He described MKO Abiola as a man who transcended race, tribe and religion, adding that the late philanthropist appealed to all Nigerians who voted massively for him during the 1993 Presidential election.
“Sadly, he lost his life trying to secure his mandate. Even though he was from another State, Lagos was his home. And we recognize his contribution to our State and our democracy,” Governor Ambode said.
Responding on behalf of the family, MKO Abiola’s son, Abdul Mumuni Abiola thanked Governor Ambode and the Lagos State Government for the honour done the Abiola family, saying the statue was indeed befitting to honour his late father.
“God is great. I heard about this statue six months ago and I was called to come and see it and when I got here, I saw a statue of three-storey building. This is indeed massive. The family of late MKO Abiola really appreciates this and we want to thank the Governor,” Abdul Mumuni said.
He also appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for posthumous award conferred on his father and declaring June 12 as the Democracy Day, as well as the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for standing solidly behind the struggle.
“We thank the President for doing what he did. This statue was planned before the President did what he did and so we want to thank Governor Ambode for this,” he said.
Governor Ambode, who earlier spoke at a symposium held at the Blue Roof, Lagos Television in Ikeja to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the June 12, 1993 election, paid glowing tributes to other comrades who led the struggle from the front including Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Ambassador Walter Carrington, Justice Dolapo Akinsanya, Chief Frank Kokori, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Mr. Wale Oshun, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and other Nigerians and Civil Society Organisations, Trade and Labour unions.
“We also pay glowing tribute to the beautiful memories of patriots such as Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Chief Michael Enahoro, Chief Alfred Rewane, Dr Beko Ransome Kuti, General Adeyinka Adebayo and several others including innocent ordinary Nigerians, young and old who were murdered in cold blood on the streets of Lagos and in other major cities of Nigeria. Today, we declare that their sacrifice has not been in vain,” he said.
The Governor commended Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for being the pioneer Governor to declare public holiday on June 12 throughout his tenure in office as well as Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for his steadfastness in upholding the tradition, saying that the occasion attests to their visionary leadership.
Speaking on the theme: “Restructuring: Antidote For Efficient And Effective Polity,” guest lecturer, Dr. Dele Ashiru of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos (UNILAG), called for the amendment of the Constitution to ensure removal of provisions which inhibit successful running of functional system, especially revenue sharing formula which he said must be by derivation, among others.
He also said considering the strategic importance of Lagos to the country, special attention must be given to the State, adding: “The Federal Government must wake up and pay Lagos adequately from the national resource so that the State can continue to play the role it had been playing in the country.”
He described Lagos as a model and mega city not only in Africa but the world, and as such all hands must be on deck to work for its sustenance.
Also, Chairman of June 12 Coalition, Comrade Linus Okoroji commended the Lagos State Government for sustained commitment to the June 12 struggle which had yielded fruits with the recent declaration of the day as Democracy Day in Nigeria and recognition of MKO Abiola as GCFR.
…Family Endorse Ambode For Second Term, Says Edifice Befitting Of Gani’s Legacies
…NLC, NCP, Falana, Odumakin, Others Eulogise Late Activist, Laud LASG
…Gani Remains A Hero, Role Model, Says Gov
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday unveiled a new statue of the late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi at the ‘Liberty Park’, in Ojota, saying that the 44-feet edifice symbolises the phenomenon that the rights activist represented in his life time.
The unveiling of the statue, in commemoration of the 80th posthumous birthday of the late icon, the Governor said, was an affirmation of his administration’s commitment to celebrate personalities whose action have helped to define the fortune and spirit of Lagos State positively over the years.
Eulogizing the relevance of the personal sacrifices made by Chief Gani Fawehinmi in leading the struggle for attainment of human rights and dignity especially during the military regimes which dehumanized many Nigerians, Governor Ambode said the late human rights activist would continue to remain a hero and role model for many till date.
“We celebrate the invaluable contribution and personal sacrifices of Chief Gani Fawehinmi in the campaign for human rights and dignity, especially in Lagos State where he spent the greater part of his life.
“Chief Gani Fawehinmi loomed large in the minds of the people, especially the underprivileged and vulnerable masses for whom he was ready to lay down his life. In the hallowed corridors of the Law Courts where he fought many battles, he was revered as a titan. Also his acts of philanthropy were borderless. He remains a hero and role model to many till date,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, also seized the occasion to reiterate the commitment of his administration towards advancing human rights and upholding of social justice at all time, adding that his administration would continue to draw inspiration from Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s struggles and ideals in its quest to make life meaningful for Lagosians.
“Although Chief Gani Fawehinmi is no longer in our midst; like all great men, he lives on in our hearts and memories. We will continue to keep his ideals alive and pass it on to the next generation. He will continue to inspire us as we forge ahead with the missing of building a better society. This monument stands as a testimony of his strength and courage.
Responding on behalf of the family, the son of the late activist, Mohammed Fawehinmi thanked the State Government and Governor Ambode, saying that apart from being a befitting representation to the legacies of their patriarch, the Statue would place their father’s name on the global map.
“I am totally overwhelmed. I want to say a big thank you to Lagos State Government and another very big massive thank you to Governor Ambode. In all honesty, he is the man I least expected this to come from.
“We understood when former Governor Fashola started this with a smaller statue and we were all glad that at least he remembered our mentor, our father, our leader in the human rights struggle and senior advocate of the masses. But now seeing this, I now started to say to myself that Governor Ambode has placed the name Gani Fawehinmi on a global map,” Mohammed said.
While describing Governor Ambode as a very reputable accountant and one of the most outstanding Governors in Nigeria, Mohammed said the Governor was the first in the history of Nigeria to do something such gigantic, saying that the statue would enter the Guinness Book of Records.
Mohammed, who alluded to the massive infrastructural renewal and efforts to make Lagos rank among top global cities, also announced the decision of the Fawehinmi family to endorse Governor Ambode for a second term in office to continue the good works across the State.
“We hereby endorse Governor Ambode for second term in office to continue the good works in the State,” Mohammed said.
In his goodwill message, rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana described the statue as one of the best in the country, and thanked the State Government for honouring Fawehinmi with such imposing edifice.
“The monument we are unveiling today is one of the best in the country and it has to be so. We want to thank the Lagos State Government for the investment in this edifice. We can assure you that many Nigerians or anybody who enters Lagos through this road will want to find out who is here and every day we are going to teach lessons about Gani Fawehinmi.
“We thank the Lagos State Government for rebuilding this statue. We were wondering when the former one was collapsing but we are sure this one can never collapse. It is very solid and very strong,” Falana said.
On his part, National Secretary of National Conscience Party (NCP), Comrade Ayodele Akele, said the edifice was a wonderful 80th posthumous birthday gift to the family and associates of the late activist.
Akele, who spoke on behalf of the NCP, a party founded by late Fawehinmi, specially thanked the State Government and Governor Ambode, saying that the government deserved to be commended.
“I am totally flabbergasted by this wonderful edifice in honour of my icon, in honour of my mentor, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. For me, this is a wonderful memory of late Chief Fawehinmi.
“This would be auspicious gift to the posthumous 80th birthday of our mentor and this is wonderful. For doing this to the memory of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, my humble self, National Conscience Party (NCP) and all its associates across the world say a big thank you to the Lagos State Government and particularly Governor Ambode,” Akele said.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) represented by the Deputy National President, Comrade Issa Aremu also appreciated the State Government for the statue, saying it was well deserved.
“We appreciate the Lagos State Government ably led by Governor Ambode for the honour done to our mentor, our leader, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. For us to identify with this occasion is a total commitment because when the late chief was alive, he was with us totally. He was there on the streets joining our protests and several times when we were being harassed with black market injunctions, Chief Fawehinmi was always there to defend us,” Aremu said.
On her part, rights activist and President of Women Arise, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin commended the State Government, saying that the legacies of the late Fawehinmi would continue to be remembered.
“We are gathered here today at the statue of a great life wire of the human rights and pro-democracy movement. I want to specially thank the Lagos State Government. I know that Gani Fawehinmi continue to live in the unconsciousness of the people,” she said.
The event was well attended by members of the human rights movement and Fawehinmi’s family including his widow, Alhaja Ganiyat Fawehinmi; Chief Femi Okurounmu, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Jiti Ogunye, Debo Adeniran, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Declan Ihekaire, Nelson Ekujumi, Dr Yunusa Tanko, among others.
…Says Sector Contributed N800bn To Lagos GDP In 2017
…Lagos Can Truly Become Hub For Tourism In Africa- Mahama
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday said his administration was consciously investing huge resources to develop an enduring infrastructural architecture that would ensure that the State’s tourism potentials are fully harnessed for all round economic growth and development.
The Governor, who spoke at the Lagos Tourism Summit, held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, with the theme- ‘Destination Lagos: Towards A Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy’, said the plans, concepts and executions of his administration are deliberate and well thought-out to make the highly populated mega city-state culturally attractive and artistically functional.
“As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development. We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive,” he said.
He said his administration was not unmindful of the fact that for the State to match up with other leading world tourism destinations like Miami; São Paulo; Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo as well as African cities such as Cape Town, Cairo, Marrakech and Accra, the right infrastructure has to be put in place.
“In order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructural architecture that will endure. It must be safe and secure; it must provide functional and diverse venues for the arts, culture, festivals, creative industry, recreation and wildlife; and it must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.
“So when you see us reclaim 50 hectares of land at the Oworonshoki end of our lagoon; when you see us clear a whole stretch at the Badagry and Epe Marina; when we insist that our prime waterfront must not be taken over by shanties and slums; when you see us embark on some ambitious road, fly-over and modern bus terminal constructions; we are preparing the grounds for a major source of employment and prosperity.
“When you see us continue to plead for the control of wasting federal assets like the National Arts Theatre, National Museum and National Stadium and possibly declare our intention to have the Muritala Mohammed International Airport concessioned to us; we are focused on our tourism sector.
“When you see our unwavering commitment in changing the face of public transportation, committing more funds to providing jetties and expanding access to waterways, please know that we are driven only by the need to build and sustain the needed infrastructure upon which an enduring tourism landscape can stand and outlive our administration and those coming after us,” the Governor said.
Alluding to the massive opportunities available in the sector, Governor Ambode said that the activities within the tourism sector contributed about N800billion to the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.
“The tourism sector contributed about $2.2billion (N800billion) to the Lagos GDP in 2017 and with the infrastructure and resources we are deploying in this sector, we expect this figure to double or treble in the next 5 years.
“The enormous resources we have deployed in physical and social infrastructure across the State will begin to crystallize by December into mega structures that will support tourism and market our state as a smart destination,” the Governor said.
Noting that Nigeria boasts of very rich culture and heritage, Governor Ambode said it was not in doubt that the country has the largest concentration of the black race, adding that Lagos sits in a better position to tell the story of the black race.
He said the Lagos Tourism Master plan, which would emerge at the end of the summit was premised in the context of the fact that the State can become an iconic brand of the black race.
“The Tourism Master Plan is focused on Six (6) key sectors; Culture and Heritage, Film, Art and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure,” Governor Ambode said.
Besides, he said the Tourism Summit, coming a week after a Security Summit was held at the same venue was a demonstration of the government’s commitment to find alternative platforms that can enrich and propel the State to prosperity continuously.
In his keynote address, former President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama said that Lagos has the potentials to emerge as a foremost destination for tourism development in Africa.
While commending Governor Ambode for his efforts towards growing tourism through investment in infrastructure, he said with the billions of dollars revolving in the sector across the world and over 1.8billion tourists, the State was heading in the right direction in its bid to become Africa’s tourism hub.
“I’ve been following the progress Lagos has made on various fronts and I join those who have celebrated Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the contributions he has made within this short period to enhance the efforts and contributions of his predecessors.
“There are potential billions of naira in revenue that Lagos State could earn in the next several years with the successful implementation of the plan that you intend could come out of this summit.
“If you look at the nearly $7trillion that is supposed to be earned from tourism, then definitely Lagos State positioning itself as a favourite destination for tourism in order to get a share of this huge cake is a very wise decision by Governor Ambode and his team.
“Thankfully, Lagos in preparation for the launch of the State’s tourism master plan has began upgrading and expanding critical infrastructure including transportation, roads and of course the recent reclamation that is ongoing,” Mahama said.
Several paper presentations by speakers at the Summit including Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Professor Pat Utomi, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Mrs Omotayo Omotosho, Mr. Philip Hughes, while commending the State Government for putting together the summit, made recommendations on what Lagos must do to harness the massive potentials in the tourism sector.
Just a week ago, we held the Security Summit here at this venue. This summit further demonstrates our commitment to find alternative platforms that can enrich our State and propel her prosperity continuously.
We are very proud of our culture and heritage. It has become very clear and evident; that there is no other concentration of the black race that is larger than Nigeria, and most especially Lagos that can tell the story of the black race.
The Lagos Tourism Masterplan; which is the ultimate end product of this summit is premised in the context of this analogy.
As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.
We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive.
Our plans, concepts and executions are very deliberate and well thought-out to make a highly populated mega city-state culturally attractive and artistically functional.
We are humble enough to draw inspiration from what Cities like Miami; São Paulo; Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo are doing with Tourism and we see how AFRICAN Cities like Cape Town, Cairo, Marrakech and Accra have drawn attention to themselves as tourist havens of varying degrees.
Our reputation as the commercial and entertainment nerve-Centre of Africa is not in doubt. With our young and energetic population, coastal location and other natural resources, we are arguably the city best suited to promote the idea of an iconic super brand for the black race.
But in order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructural architecture that will endure. It must be safe and secure; it must provide functional and diverse venues for the arts, culture, festivals, creative industry, recreation and wildlife; and it must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.
So when you see us reclaim 50 hectares of land at the Oworonshoki end of our lagoon; when you see us clear a whole stretch at the Badagry and Epe Marina; when we insist that our prime waterfront must not be taken over by shanties and slums; when you see us embark on some ambitious road, fly-over and modern bus terminal constructions; we are preparing the grounds for a major source of employment and prosperity.
When you see us continue to plead for the control of wasting federal assets like the National Arts Theatre, National Museum and National Stadium and possibly declare our intention to have the Muritala Mohammed International Airport concessioned to us; we are focused on our tourism sector.
When you see our unwavering commitment in changing the face of public transportation, committing more funds to providing jetties and expanding access to waterways, please know that we are driven only by the need to build and sustain the needed infrastructure upon which an enduring tourism landscape can stand and outlive our administration and those coming after us.
Our Government recently commissioned the development of a Tourism Master Plan which will show the road map to be taken in the next couple of decades to make Tourism a major sector of the Lagos economy.
This masterplan is one of the legacies we are determined to bequeath to Lagosians and the coming generations
The Tourism Master Plan is focused on Six (6) key sectors;
- Culture and Heritage
- Film, Art and Entertainment
- Business Tourism
- Nature and Adventure
- Medical and Wellness
- Beach and Leisure
We have put Tourism at the core of our growth strategy at this point in the development of our State – Laying a solid foundation for the continued prosperity of Lagos and Lagosians.
The tourism sector contributed about $2.2billion (N800billion) to the Lagos GDP in 2017 and with the infrastructure and resources we are deploying in this sector, we expect this figure to double or treble in the next 5 years
The enormous resources we have deployed in physical and social infrastructure across the State will begin to crystallize by December into mega structures that will support tourism and market our state as a smart destination.
In conclusion, the time and input from today’s Summit can never be adequate. The outcome is just a bye-product of another legacy we seek to build. We seek the cooperation of every interested persons and groups; to build “Brand Lagos” that we will all be proud of.
I want to thank all our panelists and other invited guests, most especially His Excellency, the former President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama.
We remain committed to listening and learning more from all the experts in the tourism sector as I believe strongly that Lagos is on a journey to greatness and I want to stand up to be counted as being part of that history.
Thank you for listening.