WHY JUNE 12 SHOULD BE CALLED M.K.O ABIOLA DAY
In recent years, there have been several stories about the June 12, 1993 elections as the day has come to represent different things to different people with majority Nigerians and political observers concluding that the day symbolizes new dawn in the annals of the nation when a rebirth of new nationhood was about to spring up but unfortunately aborted by the maximum ruler, Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s government and what was supposed to be a unifying factor for the multi-various nationalities comprising of the nation, became a most divisive and destructive event. However, more than 25 (Twenty-Five) years after the annulment of the supposed freest and fairest elections in the country, the momentum has taken another angle, especially with the Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government declaring the day the new Democracy Day for the nation rather than May 29, which has no symbolic relevance to the nation than being a transition day from military rule to a democratic government.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) stated that June 12 is more of a day to dignify Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s, Government which created political parties and gave them ideologies by writing their manifestoes for them which he called a little to the left and a little to the Right underpinning his amorphous political undertone; built parties Secretariats for them instead of allowing the people to determine what they wanted, ideologically and through financial commitments of their members and their original founders. Political offices were built on his whims rather than where the people actually existed. To keen and informed political observers, everything that happened before, during and immediately after June 12, 1993 elections never signified true democracy in any way; the declaration of the election was not holistic, the open secret ballot system, even the option A4 was never democratic as other political parties were not only disbanded, but their leaders and founders prevented from establishing or belonging to any other political parties thus, preventing generality of the people the free choice to choose who they wanted.
The June 12 incident was the day Abiola acquired the instrumentality of struggle that made him commit grand suicide apparently by taking side with the majority of the Nigerian people that were very poor and ordinarily outside his original bourgeois class. Abiola rekindled the hope of the Nigerian people and fought on their side, ultimately sacrificing his life for what an ordinary and average, toiling Nigerian stood for. He campaigned throughout the length and breadth of the nation to give hope and succour to man in the street. He shocked members of his economic class by declaring that his emergence would signal a new beginning in the annals of socio-economic cum political affairs in the nation and would herald a time where ‘No Nigerian would go to bed on an empty stomach’. To the majority Nigerians, this was the galvanizing factor the MKO Abiola’s presidency represented. He had demonstrated this before with his enormous wealth put at the behest of many unfortunate and struggling Nigerians, from the West, East and South of the nation. It was, therefore, not surprising when he defeated his main rival, Bashir Tofa, at his own polling booth in Kano and most other parts of the nation. It was a day Nigerians collectively put aside their religious, ethnic and nationality grouping aside to vote a Muslim-Muslim ticket throughout the length and breadth of the nation and gave a general mandate to their symbol of ‘Hope 93’ as the slogan adopted by all.
Today, this same day, ironically, has been used by certain elements that were either originally responsible for the unfortunate annulment and destruction of a rare chance of rooting democracy in the country or those people that later ethicized or betrayed the struggle, one way or the other. One of the key figures in that epoch was Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, a Vice Presidential candidate of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, believed to have abandoned the ship when it mattered most and currently a member of the kitchen cabinet to President Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government. This is why the JUNE 12 has become different things to the classes of the ruled and the rulers, to those in government, it represents a day their class survived a major political tsunami, meant to galvanize and mobilize the mass against their rudderless system and supplant their reign, while majority Nigerians view it as a day the masses had an opportunity to free themselves from the shackles of social enslavement and economic miasma. As the Yorubas are wont to aver, “Ninu ikoko dudu ni eko funfun tin jade’, literally meaning we get our white pap from a blackened pot. Though events and activities leading to June 12, 1993, maybe far from being democratic or civil, the symbol of that event, MKO Abiola, seized the momentum to side with the toiling and suffering Nigerians and rekindle their hope in a new Nigeria where religion, ethnicity and other primordial considerations would pave way for merit and excellence in determining leadership and other strivings in the country. Like the United States of America (USA)’s Civil Liberty emblem, Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr., equally assassinated while struggling for racial equality and non-discrimination, Abiola has come to make June 12 an unforgettable moment in Nigeria’s quest for social identity and political/ideological direction. This informs why we advise that the government should declare the day (June 12), MKO Abiola Day never to be forgotten and to reiterate the lesson and occasion when we all chorus and say, NEVER AGAIN. As a civil society organization with a preference for open and responsible leadership that eschews corruption and its devastating effects, we received the news of the NATIONAL STADIUM Abuja being named after this patriotic Nigerian that laid down his life for the emergence of a new Nigeria with so much éclat, we, however, implore the current government to call on the then Humphrey Nwosu’s National Electoral Commission, NECON, to officially declare the final results of the June 12, 1993, Presidential elections, which Chief MKO Abiola won so that he is officially recognized as the 2nd democratically elected Executive President of the nation and accorded all benefits and recognition derivable thereto.
Executive Chairman, CACOL