by Adeola Aderounmu
June 12 1993 is a day that has refused to depart from our memories and to millions of witnesses it appears like it was just yesterday. Making it right once and for all is an enormous task and the fact that the successive undesirable governments in Nigeria continue to ignore this date is a very sad omen that will hunt this generation and the next. I do not see any ray of hope for Nigeria until the actualization of what June 12 represents. Call it superstition but Nigeria is worse now than it was in 1993. With the continuous denial of what June 12 represents and the non-actualization of the dream/ ideals, it can only get worse in Nigeria!
Though it’s been 16 years we must continue to tell and repeat the story so that the truth is not distorted and for those who didn’t know what happened then to know what transpired because until we learn from our common history and make amends for our avoidable mistakes we will most likely continue to rotate at the same point. We cannot move forward until we start doing the right thing.
June 12 was not about the contest between MKO Abiola and Bashir Tofa. June 12 is not about the junta and it is not about the military tropical gangster called Babangida. June 12 is not about these people. It was about democratic principles and the simple rule of law. On June 12 1993, millions of Nigerians voted in the best election ever conducted in the history of Nigeria. It was possible for the people to vote correctly because the elections were actually properly planned and well conducted.
As a result of the precedents to June 12-long years of wasteful and corrupt military rule, vain promises, crushed dreams, battered economy and complete hopelessness in the order of things-, the hope that came with June 12 elections was greater than that which Obama brought with his campaign and victory in the US. There were pre-election debates and it was easy to discern that one of the two candidates had a plan and promises of hope for a brighter future.
The people voted and the results were rolling in to the favour of MKO Abiola. When it became evident that Abiola would win, Bashir Tofa (the opponent) was said to have sent him congratulatory messages. I was humbled by that simple gesture of sportsmanship. It was supposed to usher in an era of politics without bitterness. Records have it that as the results were been announced, the prices of goods and services were dropping. There was a tailor who refused to be paid for the services he had rendered. He was so overjoyed that “at last” hope has come to the people. Even the cost of transportation went down drastically in those few hours of glory. There were numerous fine moments that accompanied the announcement of the results. Hope and a sense of belonging were in the air.
That was the spirit and mood until Nigerians received a rude shock from the nonentity called Babangida. This useless man cancelled or annulled the best election in our history. There were many hypotheses to this annulment including that Abiola was a creditor to the government, or that a few ignoble persons would not like to see him become the president of Nigeria. Some people said it was because of what he did when he was in NPN that he betrayed Awolowo. In democracy, these or any other fabrications are useless and thoughtless arguments.
The fundamental thing about June 12 was that a presidential election took place in Nigeria and Abiola won. The crime about it was that some cabal secretly plotted against Abiola and eternally denied him of the mandate that the Nigerian people gave to him. He was asked by the people to give them hope, but a few arrogant and selfish persons, a few of whom are unfortunately still around the corridors of power decided otherwise.
The annulment was resisted by many true democrats, some were killed and many went into exile. Prominent Nigerians chickened out and were back in subsequent illegal governments because they were simply opportunists originally. Kingibe who should have been the vice-president in a rare muslim-muslim ticket (which Nigerians were satisfied with) even had the guts to serve in the present lame government. Many Nigerian politicians are shameless. As looters, they never get enough, do they? They always stage a return to our lives and the implication is that since 1960, we have had a system of recycling sycophants in our government. Those that cannot be recycled stay out as godfathers-destroying the system to meet their own needs and selfish ends.
Many people died in vain in the struggle to actualize that mandate popularly called JUNE 12. May their souls find peace. They are more honourable than Babangida and the thoughtless cabal put together. Have we heard all concerning the brutal murder of MKO? He died under questionable circumstances while a delegate from the United States was visiting him. How did a cup of tea become a poison? We knew that a delegate from the US visited him in prison but is the story of the poisonous tea cup actually valid? Was he beaten to death? Is Mr. Abubakar Abdulsalam paying yet for the crime committed under his watch?
MKO Abiola was killed on July 7 1998 when many thought he would be released to claim his mandate after the death of one of the notorious generals called Abacha. The implication is that he was up against an evil cabal who will not mind travelling to hell just to deny him the honourable mandate. Indeed the cabal succeeded in their plots and 16 years after, Nigerians are paying dearly the price for the evil of a few men.
Why is June 12 our only hope? It is because unless we conduct a normal election where our votes are counted like that fateful day in 1993; there will be no democratic government in Nigeria. I do not believe that Nigeria is yet a democratic nation. What we still have are hand-picked sycophants and looters who are not answerable to anyone and who are above the laws of the land.
June 12 election was peaceful, free, fair and devoid of violence. If the election was not stupidly annulled it would have been the benchmark for electoral processes in Nigeria and indeed Africa. We lost that chance and we have not been able to regain it since 1993. Lowly countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia that are recuperating from recent wars did better in electing their leaders and making them accountable while the sleeping giant of Africa has failed to produce a credible election since 1959. What a real shame?
June 12 is not only a symbol of democratic struggles but also a symbol of the dignity of man. The dignity of the Nigerian masses has been perpetually rubbed in the mud. Today the masses still have no rights, no dignity and are not respected by the wicked leadership. The typical Nigerian man or woman knows very well that his/ her vote is not worthy. These people suffer from extreme low esteem and self-pity. It is pathetic and sorrowful.
The only way forward for this country is to set the records straight. The corruption, injustices and social inequality being perpetrated by the leaders and looters in Nigeria are the reasons for the poverty that prevails in Nigeria. It is the reason that 3 square meals is a privilege. It is the reason why the nation is making giant strides back to the Stone Age as the rest of the world continues to enjoy the fruits of the 18th century industrialisation and 21st century globalisation.
Those who disengaged us from the dreams of June 12 are among us and the time is now to bring them and their stooge to Justice. Anything short of justice means that peace, progress and prosperity will be an everlasting mirage for the common man in Nigeria. Justice must be done. Babangida must account for his deeds as a chief truncator of the hope of June 12. All the participants in that treasonable act in June 1993 should be brought to book.
It is not right that a country so blessed can also accommodate more than 90m people living desperately on less than 2 dollars a day and having no access to clean water, no proper housing and lacking a befitting standard of life. If the estimated 90m people living on less than 2 dollars a day in Nigeria stand up to be counted in a mass action, they will salvage the remaining days of their lives and secure the future for their children. There are more than 140m Nigerians and a solid resistant is needed to pull down the cabal and their antidemocratic bidding once and for all.
One thing is sure, in as much as we have refused to take the right steps and as long as we have not resisted those who are manipulating our country to a selfish end, millions of people will continue to live in poverty. This is not a curse; it is just what I call the unarguable reality of our lives. When is the truth going to set us free in Nigeria? When?
It is one thing for us to know the truth, acknowledge it, make amends and set Nigeria on the path of glory and it is definitely another thing to continue to deny ourselves the knowledge of the truth thereby allowing a few people to continue to enjoy the fruits of the land while leaving the helpless and resilient majority wallowing in abject poverty.
The way to GLORY will be a struggle on all aspects of our lives, social, economic…and so on. The way to prosperity and the good of all will be to seek the men and women who will be ready to serve selflessly and dedicatedly. In Nigeria, we need the rule of law above the rule of men. The present incapable government in Nigeria is the biggest joke of all epoch.
Each June 12 continues to unsettle the mind of the wicked. It will eventually bring judgment who those who spilled the blood of the innocents. The goodness of June 12 will bring milk and honey back to the Nigerians who are weak and poor, living on less than 2 dollars a day.
I will like to repeat and emphasize that June 12 is not about Abiola or Tofa. It is not about the cabal or a tropical gangster called Babangida. It is not about the unsolved conspiracy that killed MKO. June 12 is about the destruction of the everlasting foundation upon which the glory of Nigeria would have been built. It is about the confinement of Nigerians to a state of extremely low esteem and self-pity. Until the actualization of the ideals of June 12 this country will neither know peace nor make progress.
This is my personal opinion and that is the way that I see it.