The Oodua Peoples Congress will on August 29 celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The silver Jubilee celebration will hold at the Grandeur Event Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.
Disclosing this on Sunday in a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the group, Yinka Oguntimehin, the National Coordinator, and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, said the journey that started 25 years ago was tortuous and there is reason for celebration.
He gave reasons for celebrating the silver jubilee of the Congress.
The Aare Onakakanfo went down the memory lane, explaining that it was the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election that culminated in the struggle to liberate the Yoruba nation, thus bringing about the establishment the OPC on August 29, 1994.
Isa Adams said: “The zeal and patriotism of some Yoruba Nationalists to liberate Nigeria from the brutal, ferocious and savage hold of military junta led to the thrusting of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) into national consciousness on August 29 1994.
“The late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, myself and seven others took a critical and patriotic decision that the mandate of the late Aare Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola, annulled by former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, must be actualised and Nigeria must be set free from the clutches of dictatorship.
“These and many other injustices from the then Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha, led to the formation of the Congress.
“Five years after the formation, democracy took a firm root in the country in 1999.
“Today it is a thing of joy that we have 20 years of uninterrupted, participatory democracy in Nigeria.
“But, this is not without sacrifice.
“The late Abiola, whose mandate was annulled on June 23, 1993, alongside OPC leaders, fought for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 democratic wishes of Nigerians.
“But sadly, the business mogul died in detention in controversial circumstances during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 7, 1998.
“Many Nigerians that protested the continued detention of Abiola were shot on the streets by soldiers between 1993 and 1998.
“Some Nigerians such as Pa Alfred Rewane, Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, Alhaja Suliat Adedeji, Admiral Tunde Elegbede, James Bagauda Kaltho, Shola Omasola, Oluwatoyin, Onagoruwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa and others were killed.
“Activists and journalists such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Frank Kokori, Kunle Ajibade, Chris Anyanwu, Ben Charles-Obi, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Babafemi Ojudu and others were detained and, some, jailed.
“Prof. Wole Soyinka, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others were forced to relocate from Nigeria.
“It was a period of persecution, victimisation and wickedness in high places.
“But today, democracy has come to stay. OPC is 25 years and we have every reason to remember Nigeria’s heroes and those who have been forgotten.”
Adams also expressed regret that despite the death of a number of nationalists and sacrifices of the fallen heroes, not so much has been achieved with democracy.
He, however, said with the determination of the group not to relent and continue pressing for better change, Nigeria, and the Yoruba nation, will be liberated.
“Though, democracy is here, we are still faced with several challenges. Part of these challenges is the spate of insecurity in the country, but I am optimistic that Nigeria and Yorubaland in particular will get it right one day.”
On the silver jubilee anniversary of the Congress, Iba Adams said there have been series of programmes lined up for the celebration.
Part of the programmes for the grand finale, he said, is a public lecture by Professor of Political Economy and International Relations, Prof. Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, and the Electoral Commissioner of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission.
Special Awards will be presented to 21 eminent Nigerians, both the living and the dead, and a dinner party for all the guests.
“Some of the big names and recipients of the OPC special posthumous awards include the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Moshood Abiola, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Abraham Adesanya, Justice Adewale Thompson, Ambassador Segun Olusola, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Olumide Adeniji, Tony Ngrube, Prof. Sophie Oluwole, Ibraheem Abobanawo and the founding father and Spiritual leader of the Congress, the late Dr. Fredrick Faseun,” the statement on Sunday said.
Other awardees are Prof. Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana, Femi Aborishade, Kehinde Oluwole, Gabriel Akinadewo, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin and Yemisi Shylon among others.
“The awards is to appreciate all the recipients for playing different roles in the course of the struggle to liberate the nation,“ Iba Adams said.