For the pioneer secretary-general, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Debo Adeniran, extending invitations to citizens by security agencies is not all that matters, rather, the outcome of such invitations that should be of concern to the generality of Nigerians.
Adeniran, who is the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) added that there are occasions when people make remarks or give information that are not generally available in the public space. When this happens, security agencies may think that such persons could help them shed light on the issues they raised or the remarks that they made. “It has happened to me a couple of times, even in the days of military rule.
“Of course, it is the fundamental right of every citizen to have freedom of speech, association, to hold opinion and disseminate it along the dictate of the law. What should not be tolerated is a situation whereby people who do not make inflammatory remarks, are unjustly invited. It should be noted that there is no freedom that is absolute anyway,” the consultant educationalist added.
He said even when citizens resort to protests, “as long as the protests are not violent, the government does not have any business stopping it. What government should do is to send its agents to join the protesters, listen to their demands, and take the information back to government for it to know the grievances of the citizenry. It is not the business of government to be over sensitive, and resort to stopping peaceful protests with brute force. That is not acceptable in a democracy, and is a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights.
“Even though we agree that no right is absolute. But the government should be tolerant of opposing remarks. Instead of chasing after the messenger, government should find a way of fixing the complaints and ensuring that there is good governance, accommodation and tolerance.”
Attempts to get the Presidency to comment on the travails of Mailafia, the former Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 general election failed as presidential spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina failed to respond to emails or calls and text messages sent to their mobile phones.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on the Federal Government to do more in the fight against corruption in the country and ease the burden of the citizenry especially at a time the government is just easing the lockdown.
In a release issued by the Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the Acting Director of Administration and Programmes, to mark CACOL’s 13th Year Anniversary he enthused that “the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) formerly known as Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders was established on the 3rd of September, 2007. Incorporated in 2016, our vision is a Nigeria without corruption both in public and private sectors. Our mission is to use any legal and civilized means available to cause relevant authorities to probe and try all corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions”.
Over the last 13 years, CACOL has been engaging in the business of research, enlightenment, advocacy and monitoring of government activities with a view to reducing corruption. We have been at the fore front of enlightening members of the society on the virtues of living modest and corrupt-free lives. We have organized public enlightenment programmes at regular intervals on the need to be good leaders. We have also liaised with relevant government agencies in carrying out global best practices on act of governance. We have come up with researches, studies and surveys on needy areas and unanswered questions concerning corruption and we have participated in budget tracking, scorecards, open parliaments, etc.
Furthermore, we have been the vanguard of enlightenment to the people on the need to see leadership as service to the society. Over the years, CACOL’s main activity is to campaign against corruption and advocate for open governance by embarking on fact-findings through: Research, Investigations, Surveys etc., We engage in policy review and engagements, by publishing books, journals, reports, pamphlets, posters, handbills. We also carry out mass outings like, rallies, processions, marches, petitions, litigations, festivals and anti-corruption tours. We also intervene on behalf of victims of corruption.
It is on record that we have been directly involved in writing petition against and exposing some suspected and alleged corrupt public officials notably Olusegun Obasanjo former President of Nigeria, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister, and James Ibori former Governor of Delta State which in turn led to his indictment, prosecution and conviction.
As we clock 13, we have observed that not much have changed in the Anti-Corruption drive in the country. In as much as we would like to commend the government for the introduction of various measures like Bank Verification Number (BVN), Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS), among others, aimed at curbing corruption in the country we believe there is still much to be done as corruption persists in both public and private sectors in the country. We also call on the three arms of government to synergize more to stem the tide of corruption in the country. The Judiciary as the last hope of the citizen should do more in the area of quick dispensation of justice so as to serve as deterrent.
As if that was not enough, the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, appears set to hit N160 per litre as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has increased the price at which it sells the product to marketers from N138.62 per litre to N147.67. This is coming at a time when most Nigerians are coming out of the lockdown forced on them by the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus pandemic.
Many Nigerian workers have not being paid salaries for months as some sectors especially the hospitality and private schools have not reopen for business. Others, especially those working in the banking and aviation sectors have lost their jobs and sources of livelihood due to the fact that their organizations have either downsized or outsourced their jobs.
Prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed while commuters have been forced to pay almost double as transportation fares due primarily to the social distancing regulation being observed by transporters. All these have negative impact on the disposable income of Nigerians most of whom will still struggle to pay house rents and other bills.
The anti-corruption crusader said “we want to say emphatically that the current increase in electricity or energy tariff and the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit is a wrong move coming at a very wrong time. It is ill-advised, unkindly and unsympathetic to the plight of the already overburdened Nigerians who eke out a living by a dint of hard work”.
“CACOL would like to call on the government to deliberately reduce prices of energy and power which are used by most Nigerians majority of whom did not benefit from the palliatives distributed by the government to cushion the effect of the lockdown. The government should rescind these unholy decisions and think of ways to ease the current socio-economic problems of the already overburdened citizens rather than further extorting them. Government should also desist from introducing anti-people policies that will burden the people and further ensnarl them in abject poverty while the few individuals that were elected to govern them live so large on the commonwealth of the generality of the populace”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has chided the Governing Council of the University of Lagos headed by Dr. Wale Babalakin on how Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe was controversially removed as the university’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday 12th of August, 2020 at a meeting held in Abuja.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “With bated breath, we received the news of the hasty removal of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe”.
“We have been drawn to the lingering crisis within the topmost hierarchy of the university of Lagos management, occasioned by allegations of mismanagement of funds by certain officials of the university on one hand and the alleged overbearing attitude of the Pro-Chancellor of the institution, which has weighted negatively on free administration of the school that threatens the traditional and symbiotic relationship between the Governing Council, the Senate and the university’s Vice-Chancellor as the Chief Accounting officer of the ivory tower on the other end”.
“We have tried to intervene in the crisis as a concerned Civil Society Organisation and our intervention became necessary considering the primal position the affected university holds as one of the premier universities established shortly after Nigeria’s independence in the 1960s and its impressive array of alumni that cut across all social strata in the country”.
Though we were able to gather some information from a cross-section of the University community representing both sides of the divide, we could not take a stand, specifically because we could not hear the Pro-Chancellor’s side of the story directly as all our attempts including the letter of request were rebuffed on the ground that the university’s law forbade him from discussing the issues with an off-campus organization like ours.
Although, a few of the direct stakeholders including Professors sounded out at Akoka and the College of Medicine Campuses of the institution supported the Governing Council but most of them were on the side of the Vice-Chancellor.
Inasmuch as we are not saying the embattled Vice Chancellor is right or wrong, our major interest is that due process guiding the removal of a Vice-Chancellor must be followed. The fact that the selection of the Acting Vice-Chancellor announced by the Governing Council was not known to the Senate who runs the day to day activities of the University left much to be desired of the whole process leading to the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.
Moreover, the four labour unions of the university namely, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) also kicked against what they described as arbitrary removal of the Vice-Chancellor and even staged a protest on Thursday, 13th of August, 2020 to demand for his reinstatement.
It is a popular saying that whenever two Elephants fight, it is the grass that will always suffer, this is what seemed to be playing out at UNILAG as the administrative impasse within the University of Lagos will no doubt not only affect the majority of undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University but also affect other areas of administration, research and teaching.
CACOL strongly recommends that the way out of this quagmire is the immediate reversal to the status quo and to allow all and sundry especially the primary stakeholders which include all the Unions in the university to agree that due process has taken its course. It is University of Lagos today; it may be another University tomorrow and if the right things are not done now, then it may turn out that the wrong precedents would have been laid for such future rascality and arbitrary hiring and firing of Vice-Chancellors in our citadel of learning.
“It is disheartening that almost a week after the announcement of the sack of the Vice-Chancellor, there has not been an official statement from either the Ministry of Education or the National Universities Commission (NUC). This seemingly conspiracy of silence from the two principal agencies of government who should be in the know concerning the running of the reputable institution of higher learning is loud enough to send the wrong signals to other stakeholders and even members of the public”.
We therefore call on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University now and bring all warring factions to the roundtable with a view to ensuring that lasting peace and harmony reign on the campus, so that the goodwill and the brand the university has built over the years will not be brought to disrepute and the University as a whole will not be irretrievably demarketed.
Mr. Tola Oresanwo
Acting Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL.
President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Aso Rock Villa, 3 Arms Zone
Garki – Abuja
Federal Republic of Nigeria
NIGERIAN ROADS: A TALE OF WOES
Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was established by Act No.7 of 2002 enacted by the National Assembly and assented to by President Olusegun Obasanjo. With this Act establishing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency and for matters connected herewith, FERMA became Nigeria’s first institutional mechanism for monitoring and maintaining all Federal roads in the country. First Governing Board of FERMA chaired by Engr. Guy Otobo was inaugurated by the then Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih on 27th January 2003.
The Mission of the agency is to efficiently and effectively monitor and administer road maintenance with the objective of keeping all federal roads in good and safe conditions while the Vision is to become the most efficient road maintenance management organization that will enhance the economic well-being and interest of Nigerians.
From the foregoing, it can be observed that the agency has not lived up to expectation going by the present state of roads in the country. Most of the federal roads that dotted the length and breadth of the country are crying for attention.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed once disclosed that most of the bad roads in Nigeria belong to the states. The minister argued that most bad roads in the country were within the jurisdiction of states. She made this statement after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that held on the 13th of November, 2019 in Abuja.
She went further to state that the Federal Ministry of Works was the biggest beneficiaries of funding in the 2019 budget as it was adequately reimbursed for the purpose of roads rehabilitation in the country.
Ahmed acknowledged that the government had not done enough to rehabilitate roads all over the country but still attributed most of the bad roads in the country to the states.
In the same vein, and contrary to general reports making the rounds that Nigerian roads are terrible and not motorable, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola was also reported as saying that Nigerian roads are not as bad as people think.
Fashola made this statement late last year after one of the Federal Executive Council meetings. He dismissed reports on the poor state of the country’s roads as exaggerated. In his words “The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad”, he had told State House correspondents.
We found this statement by the honourable minister as a clear indication that some of those occupying public offices are not in tune with the terrible realities of their fellow citizens’ daily experience.
Despite the claims made by the Ministers, ordinary Nigerians plying the roads know the true situation of our roads. Most of the roads are now death traps. It is worrisome that in addition to the adverse effects of the poor state of the roads, kidnapping and armed robberies, loss of vital man-hours, loss of lives and merchandise and enormous damage to vehicles on a daily basis are recorded, thus adversely affecting the growth of the developing economy like Nigeria’s.
For example, the current state of the Lagos – Sango Ota – Abeokuta express way that links Lagos and Ogun state is appalling and an eye sore as virtually all sections of the road has completely broken down. Major bus stops like Obadeyi, Kola, Salolo, Moshalashi, Alakuko, Toll-Gate, Joju among others are characterized by crater-sized potholes and gullies resulting in commuters and motorists spending long hours in traffic, accidents and damage to health and vehicles which is immeasurable in monetary terms and health costs. Sometimes, petrol tankers and container trucks have fallen at bad portions of the road, causing havoc to people.
One can only wonder the essence, importance or relevance of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), if federal roads under their direct supervision can deteriorate to such an inhuman state without any intervention to mitigate the suffering of the commuting public. More annoying is the fact that the Ministry of Works and Housing who happens to be the supervising ministry of FERMA is maintaining an unholy silence. Is it that the Ministry is unconcerned?
Though we are aware of the fact that the Lagos Sango Abeokuta express road is a federal road, we believe that the Governors of Lagos state Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Ogun state counterpart, Dr. Prince Dapo Abiodun can harmoniously and as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the suffering commuters in both states, whose manhour, lives and livelihood is being jeopardized by the unmotorable state of the Lagos Sango Ota Abeokuta express road, by directing their respective states ministries of works and roads intervention agencies to urgently provide palliatives to the road.
Apart from the federal roads, the roads that are within the purview of the states are not faring better. In fact, state-owned roads are just as horrible as the stretches of roads controlled by the federal government. In Lagos state, from the expressways to the inner streets, it is a tale of complete abandonment and neglect. The dividends of democracy in terms of infrastructure development promised to be delivered to the electorates by the politicians are just nowhere to be found.
Knowing how Lagosians crave good roads, the Governor, a day after his inauguration, signed an executive order, directing the state Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to run at least two shifts and work till 11p.m and the state Public Works Corporation to commence patching and rehabilitation of bad roads to address the perennial problem of traffic in the state. Till date, Lagosians are still waiting for this order to be carried out in some areas.
From the mainland to the Island, particularly, the densely populated areas of Ikeja (like Ipodo Street), Coker-Aguda (Akin Olowolagba Street), Somolu (Haastrup Ajimoke Street off Apata Road), Mushin-Odi-Olowo (Agege Motor Road before Olosa bus stop, Idioro), Ikorodu (Church Street, Odogunyan, Frontage of Ikorodu West LCDA, Odonla Road, Ojuemuren Street Odogunyan, Sagamu Road), Yaba (Herbert Macauly by Birrel Avenue, Kadara Street, Oyingbo, Ladipo Street off Bornu way) Lagos Island (Idumagbo Avenue, Oroyinyin Street off Adeniji Road) the story is the same as one is faced with the embarrassing sight of the decrepit roads that dots Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan city despite the high internal revenue generated by the government.
So bad are the roads in Lagos thatThe Economist Intelligence Unit and World Bank in their 2018 Global Liveability Index, ranked the state as the third worst city for humans to live in the world. The state was ranked 138 out of the 140 cities considered for the ranking. This, however, was a slight improvement from the 2017 ranking, where the country was ranked 139th out of 140 cities on the index. According to the ranking, Lagos only outperformed Dhaka in Bangladesh and Damascus in war-torn Syria. Out of an overall score of 100, Lagos was rated 38.5 points. The 2019 least liveable list has 10 cities with five from Africa. Lagos, Nigeria tops the list for the continent. This is Lagos’ third consecutive time as the worst liveable city in Africa.
Similarly, Ogun State that happens to be a close neighbour to Lagos is fast becoming a State identifiable by its bad roads. From Toyin to Giwa, Oke-Aro, Lambe, Matogun, Isaashi, Akute, Ajuwon, Alagbole, Agbado to Agbara, Lusada and all other major roads in that axis where some major factories are located, the sad reality is the same.
Recently, it was reported that the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun was fully aware of the challenges occasioned by the deplorable condition of Sango-Agbado Expressway and other roads. The statement was credited to the Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, who inspected the abandoned project. This followed his earlier inspection of the Ojodu-Abiodun-Denro Ishasi-Akute and Oke Aro-Lambe-Matogun roads some weeks back, as engineers from the ministry visited the area to further assess the roads.
Akinsanya, who said it is worthy of note that the construction of the 32km Sango-Agbado road was started by the immediate past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, decried how the project was left unattended to months before the end of Amosun’s administration.
He said: “The Prince Dapo Abiodun-led Administration is now engaging contractors, as the government evaluates how to rescope, accelerate and get the contractors back to site towards completing the road for use by the people”.
The key to economic growth and development in any nation is the provision of basic infrastructure such as good road network. We believe the rehabilitation and completion of the various roads will revive economic activities in the axis while ensuring the safety of persons, goods and vehicles.
In addition, we feel the pains and agony being encountered by the commuting people on our roads who have had to endure both the physical and psychological trauma of traffic gridlock all over the state caused by the poor condition of roads.
Your Excellency, the pains and agony commuters are enduring on our roads on a daily basis can only be mitigated by the commitment of both the federal and state governments of the states concerned to deliver dividends of democracy to the people through reconstruction, rehabilitation and completion of various road projects that litter the various parts of the states in particular and the country in general. There is an urgent need for both the Federal and the State Governments to redouble their efforts and commitments to addressing the hardship being faced by road users across the country. Alternative means of transportation like the rail and the waterways should also be improved upon to reduce the pressure n our roads.
Therefore, we are calling on your office to immediately swing into action by directing and mobilizing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to provide palliative measures for temporary relief pending the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the federal roads in Lagos state in particular and other states in general.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the action of Former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari for allegedly assaulting an environmental officer enforcing the COVID-19 protocol put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus at the nation’s airports.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he noted, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL received with concern and disapproval news making the rounds to the effect that the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari allegedly assaulted an airport official who was doing what he was paid to do”.
It would be recalled that the airport officer, on Saturday at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, tried to disinfect the luggage of the former governor who was a passenger but Yari pushed him away, claiming he was a very important personality.
“We condemn the attitude of this former governor in its entirety. His action is reckless and height of irresponsibility. By his action he has portrayed himself as an enemy of the state going by the enormity of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the country. One would have expected a supposed ‘Very Important Personality’ to support and abide with all directives and protocols laid down to stem the tide of this pandemic”.
“It is lamentable that a man of his status would make nonsense of a well thought out arrangement and protocol aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus. His attitude shows that many of our past and present public office holders see themselves as superman and demigods that should always be revered, adored and worshipped wherever they are. Can he try that absurdity in a foreign land? Little wonder then, the reason many of them are so bold to engage in various acts of corruption and acting as if they were above the law while holding public offices and forgetting that power is ephemeral”.
The CACOL Chairman added, “Against this unfortunate aberration, we therefore call on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to put mechanism in place that would prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate incidence and spell out sanctions that would be meted out to anyone who violate the COVID 19 protocols so as to serve as deterrent to others while calling on the former governor to publicly apologize for his action”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, with clear mandate for anti-corruption crusade and open, transparent governance has hailed the Auditor-General of the Federation for exposing the financial misappropriation of several millions in the records of the Nigerian Law School.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Coordinator for Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “it would be recalled that the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation uncovered multiple infractions in the school records, ranging from outright misappropriation to spending without approval and necessary appropriation. The Auditor-General’s Financial Report for 2015 which was submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for investigation indicted the management of the Nigerian Law School and exposed how N32 million was paid to an unnamed “cleaner over a period of 12 months.”
The payment, it was noted was not appropriated in the budget of the Nigerian Law School, which indicated the money was withdrew directly from its internally generated revenue without necessary approval. The Auditor-General also queried the payment of another N36 million as dressing allowance through the account of one of the staff for 52 others; again without approval and in violation of Nigeria’s Financial Act.
The Auditor-General’s report also indicated that the financial record of the Law School showed very weak signs of internal control measures, the Law School Storehouse had no ledger to show its inflows and outflows with some of its bank mandates not dated and even the Internal Auditor official stamp was not numbered; suggesting massive recklessness in the finance of the Law School.
The anti-corruption czar noted that “It is despicable that an institution meant to train and develop the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of legal professionals could be embroiled in acts of corruption like this. What are the values the school wants to inculcate in our young lawyers, if it cannot be run with probity and accountability?”
It is in light of these revealing allegations that we (CACOL) commend the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation for submitting the report to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for investigation. We urge the authorities not to sweep this case under the carpet and call on the Anti-corruption agencies to take this case up and carry out diligent and meticulous investigation in order to bring all known culprits from both past and present management staff of the school to book by recovering all the misappropriated funds, while making them to face the full wrath of the law to serve as necessary deterrent”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has called on all security agencies and the general public living and operating at Ile Zik Round-about, Ikeja Lagos, to be more vigilant as hoodlums has converted the boat monument into a brothel where unsuspecting victims are lured extorted and raped.
This was contained in a press release issued on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Debo Adeniran on Saturday June 20th.
The Centre got wind of these immoral acts through one of its CACOL’s Good Governance, Accountability and Transparency Educators (C-GATE) Units.
According to the CACOL Chairman, “the CGATE Units were created and inaugurated in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Developmental Areas(LCDAs) in both Lagos and Osun state to educate the grassroots on how to hold the government accountable and demand transparency through its educators.”
The Chairman expressed worries on the escalation of the nefarious acts perpetrated by the hoodlums in that vicinity during and after relaxation the lockdown.
According to the Mr Adeniran, “report reaching us at one of our C-GATE meetings indicated that this wicked and ungodly act has been persistent underground even before the Coronavirus lockdown and many have fallen prey to the criminals hunt as undergarments, purses, wallets, school bags and one passport picture of a young school girl were found at the suspected crime scene. Although the notoriety of the place had been acknowledged in the recent past, up till this present moment, nothing has been said or done by the law-enforcement agents to detect, investigate and to bring these suspected possible perpetrators of the suspected heinous crimes to book.”
The anti-corruption leader expressed his utmost disappointment towards the security agencies under-performance in curbing street crimes in Lagos, especially during this pandemic crisis.
The CACOL Chairman lamented on the increased rate of crime and sexual violence during this pandemic and urged all security agencies to up their games in bringing it under perpetual check.
According to him, “since the beginning of the pandemic and the attendant lockdown, reports of rape cases have sky-rocketed in all states of the federation, hence the extra vigilance of all security agencies on active duty and the protocol cannot be overemphasized. He urged the authorities to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the capacity of different security agencies are reinforced to ensure maximum protection for the Lagos citizens and that of Nigeria in general.”
The CACOL’S boss therefore demands for an immediate investigation into this demonic and shameful act and diligently prosecute anyone found culpable to ensure that the guilty ones are given deterrent punishment.
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.