I was taking note last week after reading some articles in the daily news over the June 12 pre-celebration event, when I got struck again with the reality of annulment of 1993 general elections by military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, leading to a crisis that ended with Sani Abacha heading a coup later in the year. JUNE 12, 1993 was a victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, who defeated Bashir Tofa of
the National Republican Convention. The annulment of the election elicited widespread protests across the country which also claimed a lot of lives and properties. June 12 comes with a honed face every year and one wonders, if the memory of HOPE 93 will ever evaporate in the political arena of Nigeria.
Agitation has been going on over the years to include the name of M.K.O Abiola in the ex-head of states’ configuration of Nigerian rulers. The June 12 movement, a political platform committed to the principle of popular democracy has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to recognize the late winner of the annulled 1993 Presidential Election, Moshood Abiola, as a former president of the country. The group also proposed JUNE 12 to be the democracy day rather than MAY 29 as it is currently being celebrated across the federation.
M.K.O and June 12 is a highly complex story and phenomenon. First Abiola was never president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, we should not fake an ex (prefix) to his title? We should recognize that those misguided people who annulled the JUNE 12, 1993 mandate of Chief M.K.O. Abiola did not even admit that he was president-elect. So, how come someone who was not declared president should now be recognized as an ex-president? It is neither logical, nor desirable, and above all, it is unconstitutional. It takes the deep to call to deep; June 12 annulment is deeper than the shallow mind can fathom.
The battle to obliterate the phenomenon of JUNE 12 is very much on-going. The annulment per say was to stop the man, and the enforcement of annulment that followed was to erase Abiola’s memory from the minds of the people. In the first phase of the struggle, the agenda of the annulers triumphed. The military retained power and one of its members, General Sani Abacha tried to usurp the presidency in a barren exercise which evaporated at his death. However, the struggle to totally suppress the significance of JUNE 12 did not end and by some unfortunate set of circumstances, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) struggle was derogated from a national campaign to a tribal or sectional agitation by those who themselves still wanted to ensure that JUNE 12 died permanently.
But If only they could spare a little thought, they will come to grips with the realities that JUNE 12 has brought about what will not go away from Nigeria. If not for JUNE 12 and the agitation of NADECO, perhaps, the Niger Delta will today be in slumber over the issue of resources control. Maybe those who still hoodwink themselves that JUNE 12 is a tribal struggle, may need the wisdom of the deep understanding that the call for true federalism today has its deeper root in the JUNE 12 struggle.
Every inch of the essence of JUNE 12 is embedded in the democratic ethos today. Declaring M.K.O as an ex-president is not part of it. But anyone who ignores the critical essence of JUNE 12 would be doing so at his or her own witlessness. M.K.O may be dead, but the significance and/or consequence of JUNE 12 is very much alive with us and remains a critical factor that will determine this nation’s tomorrow.