Balarabe Musa and June 12 ignoble players

Speaking two weeks ago at an event to mark the June 12 Democracy Day, Balarabe Musa, a second republic governor of Kaduna and a social crusader whose pan-Nigerian views must be taken seriously called for probe of all those involved in the June 12 debacle.

There have been very few pan-Nigerian vision-driven northern political leaders since the Enahoro’s 1953 ‘motion for independence’ constitutional crisis. Ahamadu Bello who shortly after the event started exploring the possibility of drilling a canal to link the north with Congo river was given all he demanded for (the north must have 50% of members of the house and minority issues status must not be discussed) to remain part of Nigeria. Tafawa Balewa ignored the struggle for self-actualization of northern 45% minority and 35% eastern region minority whose course Awo vigorously pursued up to the London 1957 constitutional debate to create a region for the West’s 26.4% minority, a move designed to weaken Awolowo’s political base than a strategy to address crisis of nation-building that has continued to haunt us. The cry of ‘araba’ during the July 1966 Murtala Muhammed-led vengeance coup was designed to sink Lagos with a dynamite and take the north out of the country until Britain and American diplomats talked him out of such insanity. Shehu Shagari abandoned the Third Mainland Bridge just as he according to Alhaji Jakande, derailed the Lagos Metroline apparently in line with northern politicians post-independence policy of standing-down projects that cannot be replicated in the north started by Balewa’s back benchers.

Except for the likes of the late elder statesman Yusuf Maitama Sule, one time Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations, late Adamu Ciroma, former CBN governor and Col Dangiwa Umar, one time governor of Kaduna State who resigned his commission over June 12 Abiola’s victory, not many northern leaders are known for pan-Nigerian sentiments or crusade for social justice.

Buhari’s 2015 victory was on account of his 1984-85 pan Nigerian vision and his promise to restructure Nigeria. Unfortunately his inability to rein in Fulani herdsmen engaged in mindless killings in the Middle Belt region and other parts of the country has led many to accuse him of being indifferent, out of ethnic and geographic identity, to those rampaging the country in a bid for territorial expansion.

But Balarabe Musa is widely regarded by many as the conscience of the north and the nation. His periodic interventions since he was impeached by those with Northern (arewa) agenda in the second republic have been about equity and social justice.

While most northern governors were hiding behind one finger to escape blame for their neglect of ‘almajiris’ (disadvantaged children of the poor) in the wake of Covid-19 early this year, he laid the blame on the door step of northern leaders. Asking the northern governors to learn from Awolowo’s example in the West in the 1950s, he recommended free and compulsory primary and compulsory education” as solution to the almajiri crisis in the north.

He also not too long after blamed the general insecurity especially in the north on “the level of poverty, unemployment, the level of corruption, stealing and waste of resources particularly in the North.”

Balarabe Musa has also criticized the current 36 unviable states structure and parasitic 774 LGAs, that most northern political leaders want to preserve reminding them of ‘the sense of responsibility in the leadership and coordinated progress achieved under our four regions of the first republic”, which he said justifies replacement of current structure with “six or seven regions with each deciding how many states and local governments it wants to have and finance.”

His current call on President Buhari to “complete the task he started by investigating the circumstances that led to annulment of June 12, (fish out) those responsible for the annulment and punish them effectively so that it will not happen again” is therefore along his crusade for social justice.

And perhaps since it is said we all suffer from collective amnesia in the absence of documented history, it may be pertinent to list some of those who played ignoble role in the June 12 war against Nigeria,

Topping the dishonour list is General Babangida. Claiming “Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance; efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perception only served to aggravate those attitudes”, he carried out a palace coup, and told Nigerians that he and his colleagues “are determined to change the course of history.”

He postponed his eight years “transition without end’ four times before the June 12 election ‘won round and square’ by MKO Abiola, but annulled on June 23, 1993, claiming “widespread use of money during the party primaries as well as the presidential election and irregularities and other acts of bad conduct leveled against the presidential candidates but NEC” .

His principal partner in crime against the nation was Arthur Nzeribe , a military arms contractor who on June 10, 1993, tried to stop the election, through a midnight order by Justice Bassey Ikpeme of Abuja High Court, secured by his pro-Babangida Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) which Humphrey Nwosu, the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), ignored citing section 19(1) of the presidential election decree 13 of 1993: “No interim or interlocutory order of ruling, judgment or tribunal before or after the commencement of this decree in respect of any intra-party dispute or any matter before it shall affect the date or time of holding the (presidential) election.”

On the dishonour list are also two prominent Abiola fellow Egba kinsmen, Ernest Sonekan, the usurper and interim head of Babangida’s illegal interim government, and, Obasanjo who claimed Abiola was not the messiah Nigerian were waiting for but went on to become the greatest beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice for democracy when the northern hegemonic class imposed him as president. Babagana Kingibe, is on record as saying “one of the architects of the annulment, was ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo”.

Others include Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the defeated NRC candidate who was beaten even in his Kano base but refused to concede defeat, Walter Ofonagoro, his spokesman who provided intellectual justification for the annulment, Uche Chukumerije, Babangida’s Secretary for Information who laboured hard to reduce Abiola’s pan-Nigerian mandate, to a Yoruba mandate and the government critics to Lagos sectional press and of course Justice Minister, Clement Akpamgbo.

There was also General Abacha, who facts after his death have shown was a common thief. Rejecting all entreaties from world leaders including Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he kept Abiola in a solitary confinement for four years with only the Bible and Qur’an until his mysterious death in detention.

We also have on the list General Oladipo Diya who re-christened NADECO “Agbako”, General Jeremiah Useni who shared with Abacha the same predilection for insane acquisitiveness and some other quibbling loyalty-badge wearing ‘Generals’ like the two Bamayis, Aziza, Akhigbe, Abdul Kareem Adisa and Tajudeen Olanrewajus who had no ambition beyond self-preservation after their treachery against Nigeria. There was also General David Mark who allegedly threatened to personally shoot Abiola if his electoral victory was upheld.

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