June 12: History lesson for our youths

Last week, the social media was suffused with youth messages about their resolve to fight for their rights. Their new resolution they claim stemmed from the discovery that many PDP men have occupied the political space for far too long. Bamanga Tukur, current PDP chairman, they said was old Gongola State governor back in 1983. Bello Halliru a commissioner in old Sokoto State in 1980 is today, 33 years after, Minister of Defence; General David Mark, who was governor of Niger State in1984 has continued to monopolise the senate presidency. David Jonah Jang who was governor of Benue in 1985 is today governor of Plateau and trying to add the chairmanship of NGF he lost to Amaechi in an election; Murtala Nyako governor of Niger State in 1976, 36 years ago, is now governor of Adamawa State etc. They are keeping their battle strategy a secret.

The reawakening of our youths is a welcome development. After all, Nigeria youths were in the forefront of the battle against colonialism. But before our youths, who are now university graduates at 19s and 20s embarked on an unwinnable war against politicians who recently publicly declared they would rather die than lose power, I think they first need to understand how the past, when some soldiers of fortune claimed they were sacrificing their present for our future, has come to shape the present ‘cash and carry democracy’ and a recycled leadership.

Let us start with Ibrahim Babangida, the master of political subterfuge. He rode on the back of civil society groups and the press that detested Muhammadu Buhari’s tyranny following his palace coup against him in 1985. He introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which destroyed our economy and legitimized corruption. In an effort to teach Nigeria that had engaged in party politics since the 1920s how to form political parties, he self-conceitedly decreed two government political parties, National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP), wrote their constitutions and manifestoes, appointed Tom Ikimi and Tony Anenih to run them as parastatals. His institute for democracy became the breeding ground for many of today’s PDP leaders. After eight years of ‘transition without end’, and billions down the drain, he annulled the landslide victory of Moshood Abiola, his friend.

Arthur Nzeribe. He is the leader of government sponsored shadowy Association for Better Nigeria(ABN), declared illegal and banned from canvassing for ‘four more years’ for Babangida by the court. It secured a midnight judgment from Justice Bassey Ikpeme’s Abuja court to derail the Babangida’s eight year transition despite the existence of Decree 53 which shielded the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from court interference.

Professor Humphrey Nwosu was the author of much derided “Option A4” which turned out to be Babangida’s nemesis as the method produced the most credible election acclaimed by local and international observers but faulted only by Babangida. He remained faithful to the transition by exploiting Decree 53 which shielded his NEC from prosecution until Babangida committed political suicide writing his name on the wrong side of history.

Abiola made his fortunes through his military friends. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti described him as ‘international thief thief’. He set up a newspaper to fight Awolowo, the most prominent Yoruba politician who had mooted the idea of probing the military and their civilian fronts. He launched into politics, made a failed attempt at securing the NPN presidential ticket but was rudely told by Umaru Dikko that Nigerian presidency was not for sale. He stormed out of NPN and deployed his immense wealth to the services of the people all over the country without discrimination. He took on the West insisting it must make reparations for about 400 years of slavery. He was lured back into politics by Babangida who later betrayed him. He died in prison trying to protect the mandate freely given to him by Nigerians.

Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa of the NRC who during the presidential debate said he wanted to be president because “our nation is divided by issues of suspicion, distrust and the fact that most Nigerians have lost faith in the country’s leadership whether military or civilian”, was initially chief campaigner for ‘four more years’ for Babangida. He was an oil consultant under the military making thousands of pounds daily before he was lured into politics.

Tony Anenih was the chairman of a victorious SDP who bargained away the victory of his party. He has a larger than life image of ‘Mr Fixer’, a euphemism for election rigging. He is currently PDP BOT chairman and chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority.

Tom Ikimi was one of Babangida’s ‘new breed’ creations and the government-appointed chairman of the defeated NRC. He succumbed to pressure from his military masters in their conspiracy against our nation.

Nduka Irabor was the press secretary to Augustus Aikhomu, Babangida appointed vice-president. It was Irabor who read an unsigned statement, hurriedly scribbled on a piece of paper which confined the June 12 election to history.

Nduka Obaigbena, a failed senatorial candidate under NRC from Delta was on CNN barely 12 hours after the June 12 election calling for cancellation of the results because Abiola went into the polling booth wearing a dress with the stallion picture of SDP logo. His argument was the one adopted by government.

Okey Uzoho was the NRC publicity secretary who on June 16, 1993, four days after the election signed the NRC document that formally called for the cancellation of the election on the grounds that there were ‘intimidation of voters, falsification of results in most states and monetary inducement by the rival SDP. And quoting Obaigbena, the statement concluded that ‘Abiola breached electoral law by wearing a dress bearing SDP logo’

Walter Ofonagoro as Tofa’s campaign director of organization in a 14-point statement insisted that the election was not free and fair. And citing the Abuja court injunction, and quoting Obaigbena’s MKO’S alleged contravention of decree 13 of 1993 for parading himself before voters in Lagos in the colours and emblem of his party… he demanded “the disqualification of Chief Abiola, and Tofa declared duly elected or in the alternative, the June 12 election cancelled and a fresh poll conducted.”

Clement Apamgbo, the Attorney-General of the Federation, was privy to Section 19 of the Presidential Election (Basic Constitution and Transitional Provision) Decree 13, of the 1993 which says “no interim or interlocutory order by any court or tribunal shall affect the date or time of the election”. But Nwosu, the NEC chairman confirmed that “The commission was served with a writ of summons through the honourable Attorney-General of the federation to show cause why the commission should not be charged for contempt of the said Abuja High Court for conducting the said election in defiance of the court order.”

Duro Onabule, Babangida’s chief press secretary, while all this was going on, refuted foreign media reports that the federal government was interfering with the results of the presidential election. According to his statement: “NEC has been saddled with the responsibility of conducting the election; and it is left to it to bring to government’s attention any problem that tended to adversely affect its patterns. Government was yet to get any complaint from NEC.”

General Adulsalami Abubakar, another major player in the June 12 debacle emerged following the death of Abacha to rescue the totally discredited military from final humiliation. Abiola died under his custody. In 1998, the embattled military wanted someone that would protect them out of government. They reached out for jailed Obasanjo who had during his own transition in 1979 opposed Obafemi Awolowo for threatening to deal with individual military officers that looted state treasuries.

General Obasanjo was the main beneficiary of June 12 tragedy. He had said at the onset of the crisis that Abiola was not the messiah Nigerians were waiting for. He helped in installing an illegal Interim National Government headed by Ernest Sonekan, Abiola’s Egba kinsman. When the military zeroed on him as their candidate in 1998, Babangida, Danjuma, David Mark and other military ex- office-holders and their contractors including Kalu Uzor Kalu sponsored his candidacy. Obasanjo served two terms without acknowledging the contribution of Abiola to the enthronement of democracy. In an attempt to obliterate June 12 1993, Obasanjo and PDP fraudulently imposed May 29, the day the military was humiliated out of power as ‘Democracy Day’.

This abridged history of June 12 and its enemies is important for our youths because none of the above men except Humphrey Nwosu has bothered to write his memoirs.

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