Recognition of June 12 and Late President-elect Chief M.K.O. Abiola
President Muhammadu Buhari recently announced the recognition of June 12 as the Democracy Day in Nigeria and the conferment of Nigeria’s highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola.
President Buhari was subsequently joined by the Senate, which resolved to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission to announce the results of that popular election, in order to begin to clear the dark shadows cast upon our polity by the treasonable annulment.
The Eastern Mandate Union (EMU) welcomes these pronouncements, as they not only validate as sacred, the votes of all Nigerians, from every part of the country, who participated in the election, but aligns with some of our long held positions, on how to remedy the tragic events emanating from the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections, adjudged the freest and fairest election in our history, by both local and international election observers.
Against this background, EMU as the umbrella pro-democracy organization representing the democratic ideals and consciousness of, and the quest for justice and equity by all peoples from the former Eastern region, within the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), would observe that these restorative measures while long overdue, the government must do a lot more, to avoid being accused of engaging in brazen cosmetic politics.
EMU sacrificed so much in the June 12 struggle, including jail terms and loss of life, to settle for less. Our leader and Chancellor, the Vice Chairman of NADECO Dr. Arthur Nwankwo, led several high level campaigns, to International entities, including the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the United States Congress, the White House etc. He suffered jail term and his brother Victor Nwankwo, was assassinated. He subsequently and successfully sued in a US court, and held the former Head of State General Abdusalami Abubakar culpable.
The EMU-Abroad Chairman, Professor Eddie Oparaoji, was also Chairman of the US-based frontline pro-democracy group, the Nigerian Democratic Awareness Committee (NDAC). He was a senior adviser to Chief M.K.O Abiola, chaired his “Farewell to Poverty Strategy Development” Task Force, represented him at several international organizations, including the Amnesty International, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Carnegie Institute for Peace, the US States Department, etc., and facilitated a pivotal meeting with the revered late former President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Owelle of Onitsha, at the Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, USA- an encounter that inspired steeling of MKO Abiola’s resolve to confront the military for his electoral mandate.
EMU came into existence almost four decades ago, with the motivation to restructure the country according to the dictates of our citizens, not the colonial masters. Our stance has not changed, even as the polity confronts incessant avoidable turbulence, largely due to the insincerity of our so called constitution. Measures to calm the polity such as the resolutions from national conferences of 2005 and 2014, to facilitate a new people’s constitution, remain unimplemented.
With the numerous failures at measures to steady our nation ship, EMU recently conducted a wide ranging assessment, from which we distilled the following recommendations;
· Nigeria’s best option to move forward is to return to our 1963 Republican constitution, which specified in unambiguous terms the boundaries of our fiscal federalism.
· Alternatively, the resolutions of the national conferences of 2005 and 2014 should form the basis for crafting a brand new people’s constitution, to be subjected to referendum.
· Where none of these are tenable, to create an enabling environment for groups to actualize self-determination.
In conclusion, and as the debates begin on the merits, demerits and ramifications of the recognition of June 12 and late President-elect, MKO Abiola, it may be necessary to continuously remind some segments of the main stream media, that the Eastern Flank also played a pivotal role in the historical significance of June 12. The role of people like Chief (Dr) Arthur Nwankwo, Professor Humphrey Nwosu, Rtd Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Rtd. Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Professor Eddie Oparaoji, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Frank Ovie Kokori, Dr. Udenta Udenta, Ralph Uwechue, Clement Nwankwo and others must be properly situated.
On behalf of EMU
Professor Eddie Oparaoji (Kpakpando Gburugburu Ndigbo)
Chairman EMU Abroad