Robert Obioha; 08111813041; [email protected]
President Muhammadu Buhari scored a high point with the recent honour bestowed on the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, and other June 12 actors. On M.K.O. Abiola and June 12, Buhari got it damn right. Whether the action was political or not is immaterial to its significance in the history of the country. June 12 is a date in the nation’s history when Nigerians spoke and acted as one united country devoid of ethnicity, religion and other dividing factors.
It is also a date that has refused to be swept under the carpet despite various attempts to ensure its closure. Buhari did what some of his predecessors in office had the chance of doing but turned a blind eye. Former President Goodluck Jonathan was close to it, but hit the wrong target. Ex-presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Umaru Yar’Adua did not look in that direction at all. What they missed is Buhari’s gain. Nobody can take it away from him.
By recognizing June 12 and the chief actors in that political drama, Buhari is having a good laugh for doing what is noble and acceptable by all. His supporters and handlers are also laughing for the masterstroke. It is good that the injustice of June 12 is being addressed. Honoring Abiola is just the beginning of the process of national healing. We are yet to reach the bus stop. It is not yet Uhuru.
What is June 12? This is indeed a big question. The answer will not be simple but complex. It means different things to different people. But one thing all Nigerians seem to agree on June 12 is that it is a great day for Nigeria’s democracy. Many books have been written on the June 12 political saga. In fact, more books will still be written on the June 12 political drama. June 12 is a huge topic for political discourse in the country now and in future but more futuristic than now.
It is a god theme for literature. It is equally a good theme for films. Nollywood practitioners can catch in on it and explore it the more. Comedians can explore it hilariously too. Historians can write volumes upon volumes on the June 12. June 12 has a beginning without a definite end in sight. June 12 is an ideology. It is also a movement of the progressives. I am becoming hesitant to use the word ‘progressives’ these days because of the attitudes of some progressives.
Politicians will continue to make capital out of June 12 and indeed other injustices in the country. It is what politicians are good at doing. They take advantage of any situation and capitalize it. That is the meaning of politics. They play politics with everything. It is their preoccupation. Nobody should blame them. Those who advised Buhari to do this really hit the nail at the head. They did a good job and the timing was ripe too, coming very close to the anniversary of the event celebrated every year in the South West region.
The honour given to Abiola and others has political and symbolic value. There is no doubt about that. All the same, it is a healing balm for the victims of the annulled June 12 election, coming 25 years after. It is a reassurance that Abiola and co did not die for nothing. They died for a worthy cause. They died so that we can have democracy in place as opposed to military dictatorship. They died so that we have freedom and fundamental human rights. They died so that we can have security of lives and properties.
They died so that we can have the good things of life. Why did Abiola win the election? He gave the people hope with his Hope ‘93 rhetoric that Nigerians have no pact with poverty. The thought of banishing poverty from the land was enough motivation to give him all the votes he gathered. Abiola campaigned in all parts of the country promising change for a better life and the way we do things. That can explain why June 12 is a date with a destiny.
It is a sacrosanct date that has refused to die or be cast in the dust bin of history. Buhari’s recognition of Abiola as the winner of the June 12 election, although the truth all Nigerians know, shows that truth is immutable. It shows that truth cannot be hidden or buried. Time does not eclipse truth. The best way we can honour Abiola and co is not necessarily by recognizing that he won the June 12 election or making the day a democracy day and a holiday. There is nothing wrong with that anyway. But this symbolic appeasement is not enough to put to rest the hovering ghost of June 12. But let us honour the memory of Abiola the more by ensuring that all future elections in this country will be as free, fair and credible as the June 12 election. The symbol of the June 12 election is its being free, fair and credible. If we recognize and honour Abiola and still rig elections, we are dishonouring him. If we do not allow the votes of Nigerians to count in the 2019 election, we are dishonouring Abiola and June 12.
Since June 12 is not the only injustice in the country, President Buhari should go ahead and address other injustices in the country, especially the marginalization of the South East region over state and local government creation. The injustices of the Nigeria/Biafra war must be addressed. Nigeria must be restructured. The injustice of the herdsmen killings must be addressed. Until these injustices are addressed, Nigeria will be having pockets of grievances and persistent tremors. If the nation truly wants a healing and closure of all past wounds, those ills must be addressed forthwith.
If we truly want a virile and prosperous Nigerian nation, all parts of the country must be carried along. Restoration of June 12 is good but it is never a cure-all remedy for all of the nation’s ailments. Each of the nation’s socio-political ailments requires specific solutions. That is what Buhari should address his mind to now. Buhari should tackle the general insecurity pervading the land with mush energy and enthusiasm.
Nigerians have not forgotten his unfulfilled campaign promises. He should create jobs for jobless Nigerians, increase power generation and supply, rehabilitate bad roads and make life more enjoyable to all Nigerians. He should revamp the health and education sectors as well. Medical and education tourism must be a thing of the past. Nigerians must patronize our hospitals and schools. The children of the rich and the poor must take pride in our universities and our cultural heritage.