As we celebrate another anniversary of June 12, now for the first time, at the national level, it’s perhaps the most auspicious moment to do a critical assessment of our journey on the democratic road.
This year marks the 27th anniversary of the fairest democratic election in the annals of our national democratic electoral process. That election was a watershed in our troubled polity.
We recall how our founding fathers led us to independence on a federal constitution with federating units moving at their paces before the quest for domination and conquest brought the best moment for us to an end in just six years.
The advent of military rule imposed unitary rule upon us with all the diktat that was sustained even in the Second Republic that was another attempt at democratic rule before the military returned at the end of 1983.
The transition without the end of General Ibrahim Babangida led us to the unplanned output of the June 12, 1993 election.
The election was peaceful throughout the country and it was going to resolve the nationality question that there has never been a serious attempt to resolve. In a country where religion had been a serious divisive factor, the Muslim-Muslim ticket of Abiola and Kingibe won decisively in predominantly Christian areas. Against the strong ethnocentric politics of the country, Abiola from Ogun State defeated his opponent Bashir Tofa in his Kano State. A new Nigeria was being born before our very eyes until the Babangida junta annulled the election. The resistance to the annulment saw the winner playing heroic role with formidable organisations like National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and Campaign for Democracy (CD) leading the battle.
We went through five years battle during which the lives of many patriots were lost to military bullets and assassins weapons. The death of Abiola in detention on 7th July, 1998 was the climax of it.
June 12 was an event that promised to be a launchpad for a new, united and prosperous Nigeria. A dawn of new beginnings. New structures. New hope. A promising rebirth of a nation that had lost its glory in a web of deceit, political conspiracies, subversion of the popular will, corruption and destructive ethnic rivalries. There was palpable hope and promise in the air. The entire country was overwhelmed by uncommon enthusiasm. Alas, the country, on the contrary, would be seized by the wicked ambitions and greed of a few and the ensuing collapse of all structures upon which a solid future could be founded.
That it took us 26 years to give partial closure to June is a shame.
While we acknowledge the official recognition that was done last year, we insist that repairing the damage the annulment did to the polity is more than holiday.
The damage it did to our nationhood the election was going to put on a sound footing is evident in the ramshackle it is today and official willful damage of the last five years in particular through promotion of divisive factors.
Abiola promised HOPE in the land but we are under hopelessness in the land as we have regressed under all indices.
“Farewell to poverty” was the slogan of Abiola’s campaign but we are the global headquarters of poverty today. The on-going COVID-19 has exposed how totally dysfunctional our society is. Gainful employment for our teeming youths has become a mirage. Our economy, rather than build on the enviable model instituted at independence, has become a contraption in which, the quantum of our revenue is eaten up by corruption.
The persistent ethnic cleansing in Nigeria especially since 2015 in Agatu land and continuously in Southern Kaduna and the seeming complicit posture of the government in this evil, marks a significant level in the unbundling of the shaky pillars of Nigeria.
The present government has not only shown a lack of creative ability to fund governance through federalism but is piling billions of dollars in loans for that purpose with a long term debt burden on generations of Nigerians.
We are going nowhere on the road of progress except we return to the spirit of June 12 and not the symbolism we are holding at the moment.
We have to return the faith of our people in the ballot box like June 12 and restructure the polity so we can make progress under federalism.