THE SORE THAT WON'T GO
Last Sunday, June 12, 2011 was the 18th anniversary of the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Bashorun MKO Abiola. And human rights activists and pro-democracy groups celebrated the occasion with funfare by organising seminars, symposia, lectures and press conferences at various locations.
Late Bashorun Abiola was the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential elections of which the military junta headed by Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda annulled over yet to be known or declared reasons. Abiola later died in 1998 in the struggle for the actualisation of his mandate.
At the various fora where the event took place, the organisers insisted that, June 12 and not May 29 was the real democracy day, just as the issue of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC), true federalisim, restructure of the polity as well as immortalisation of the symbol of the election, Abiola were at the front burner of discourse.
Some of activity points in Lagos were the Excellent Hotel, Ogba, MKO Abiola's house at Ikeja, Latter Rain Assembly Church and Blue Roof event venue of the Lagos Television, Agidingbi, Lagos.
Setting the tone of the anniversary was the Vice presidential candidate of the Congress for Progress Change (CPC), Pastor Tunde Bakare who alerted those who collaborated in the annulment of June 12, 1993 election not to relax saying 'MKO Abiola's blood shed in the process is a time bomb that is about to explode.'
Dropping the hint at his Latter Rain Assembly Church in Lagos, Bakare, who likened the annulment to the just concluded election, where his party lost, also expressed confidence that his party, CPC, will come out victorious at the Appeal Tribunal, enthusing that 'the forensic analysis of the voting materials will expose the electoral malpractices of April 16 election.'
According to him, what June 12, 1993 did to the military was what the forensic analysis of April 16 elections would do to perpetrators of electoral fraud in the country.
The preacher cum politician however prayed that the fire incident that occurred in the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega would not affect the electoral materials to be so analysed.
While debunking the insinuations that the June 12, 1993 edifice had crumbled, Bakare alerted that the spirit of ill will, that would deal with those drawing the country's hand of clock backwards was about to sweep away traitors calling themselves patriots.
'Abiola's blood is a time bomb ready to explode. Just wait. The season of the spirit of ill will is here. They will turn against themselves and destroy themselves and Nigeria will be free from bondage and captivity. When God wants to destroy the wicked, he will hide the instrument of destruction in their own house and they will use the weapons to destroy themselves.
If you have not acted in truth, don't expect anything good to come out of your action. There is system failure in Nigeria and that is why nothing is working. If you bring good people to a crooked system, they will be destroyed. But if you bring a crooked man to a good system, the system will destroy him and good people will evolve to operate a good system, Bakare submitted.
According to him, it was the painted scenario that scared crooked people in the country that made them afraid of the combination of Buhari and Bakare believing they would be thrown to jail, enthusing that whether they liked it or not, truth would prevail at the end of the day.
'God will destroy all the wicked and peace will reign in the country,' Bakare prayed. He regretted that 'right now, it is not yet Uhuru for the country,' just as he urged good people to be in politics to better the lots of the people.
'Politics is about the welfare of the people and that is why I am in politics. I am challenged with the plight of the common people and I am ready to be an agent of positive change,' Bakare stated, vowing that 'the fight to liberate Nigeria has just begun.'
At the Excellent Hotel event organised by the National Coordinator of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, an Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo also stated that 'June 12 remains Nigeria's democracy day, regretting that 'many of those who made so much noise about June 12 seized to be consistent in the struggle since 1993.
'May 29 to me is a military democracy day, without June 12 there can never be May 29 because June 12 engineered and pacified the Yoruba nation in its entirety and I must say that those comparing the June 12 elections to the recent elections we had in April are not being sincere as there is no similarity between both elections,' Adebanjo declared.
Delivering his own speech, Adams said Nigeria has missed a lot from failing to take historic advantage of the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential elections and the gruesome murder of its presumed winner, Bashorun M.K.O Abiola.
His words: 'We are here today to remind ourselves of our nation's mistakes and failures of the past so as to set a vision for our future. The theme of the programme, 'Post election violence and the role of youths in Electoral recovery' was chosen to reflect on the issues that divides us as a nation.'
Unfortunately for this country, it has been all along politics of jealousy and ruthless games of running down and killing of our fellow citizens and if Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo had been killed in those days during their youth service, will they ever become leaders today' he queried.
Further, he maintained 'As a people, our major task is how to chart a good course for a peaceful, orderly and progressive development for our country and we should all direct our efforts towards looking into the past which has brought forward a catalogue of errors and mistakes that resulted in political chaos in our country'.
Speaking on the theme of the day, 'Election violence in Nigeria and Role of our Youths', the guest speaker, Dr Derin Ologbenla of Department of Political Science, University of Lagos said political violence has been a primary threat to democratic consolidation in Nigeria since independence.
'After 14 years of military rule, (1983-1999) and return to civil rule, the attitude of politicians have remained unchanged, rather disagreements have degenerated into violence more than was the case in the first and second republic,' he said. Since political office is perceived to be a means to an end, the urge amongst politicians is to seek to return to political office through the use of force, election rigging and violence before and after elections'.
Speaking at Abiola's residence, former Kaduna state governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and the President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shetima Yerima were of the strong conviction that restructuring of the polity through Sovereign National Conference was the panacea to peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.
Yerima was of the opinion that a conference of peoples representatives was imperative to find lasting answers to the national questions, warning that failure to do the right thing in time would amount to postponing the evil day.
The youth leader therefore urged the current leaders in the country to emulate the patriotism of the founding fathers like Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamidi Azikiwe all of blessed memories.
Also at the Lagos State Television venue, prominent Nigerians and civil society groups led by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State also stressed the need for the practice of true federalism if the democratic values must be sustained in Nigeria.
This call came even as Fashola urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to work with other organs of government in ensuring that all reported cases of elections malfeasance, misfeasance or howsoever described are thoroughly investigated and vigorously prosecuted.
Speaking on the theme: Sustainability of Democratic Values: The Nigerian Experience organised by Lagos state government in collaboration with the June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations, held at Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Fashola asserted that June 12, 1993 election has become historic and memorable not because it produced the expected results, but because its sabotage produced a reaction that the saboteurs did not contemplate.
According to him, June 12 produced a platform for the expression of the need for change, a better life, true democracy and responsible governance by millions of Nigerians.
'The annulled election produced heroes and martyrs. It is to them that this day is dedicated. A day to salute their courage and selflessness.A day to honour them and to keep the flame of hope alive. A day to remind those of us who hold public office that we are trustees of legacies of hope created by the sacrifices of others.
Remembering those Corpers that died in April general polls, the governor called upon Nigerians to look back at their families and dependents and to spare a thought for them and of course to pray for them.
Fashola continued: 'This day also calls upon us to remember the heroes who are living, to honour and cherish their leadership as testimonies and inspiration to others that the true freedoms and choices have not been achieved and that there remains work yet to be done, and new heroes yet to emerge.
'The evidence of work yet to be done is manifested in the mindless orgy of violence that followed the recently concluded general elections.
'Those elections exacted a price that was too much for our country. They claimed the lives of 10 (ten) known young persons, who were serving their country; and many others who have not been so prominently identified.
'If elections are meant to secure the future and our prosperity, it is not right that they should be delivered at the cost of the lives of the youth who represent that future, or indeed at the cost of any human life.'
'We must move from here to see not only that justice is done patently and manifestly at the election tribunals, our law enforcement agencies must work with other organs of Government to ensure that all reported cases of elections malfeasance, misfeasance or howsoever described are thoroughly investigated and vigorously prosecuted.'
Earlier, Oshun in his paper which hemade several references to the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo submissions stressed the need for true federalism.
He said: If the three arms of government were meant to advance democratic values, is it not to be expected that the political structure of the country would have a role to play in ensuring full attainment of separation of power.
Dignataries present at the various event venues were Ambassador Segun Olusola, Otunba Gani Adams, Dr Joe Odumakin, Mallam Shetima Yerima, Mr. Mike Ozakhome Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, Comrade Ayodele Akele, Sen Suleiman Salawu, Comrade Debo Adeniran, Senator Biyi Durojaiye and Juju maestro Sir Shina Peters among others.