By Okey Ndiribe & Charles Kumolu
ALthough many of the gaily dressedÂ youths seated inside the hall listened to the guest Â lecturer Prof Adebayo WilliamsÂ with half attention last Friday in Lagos,Â the atmosphereÂ was nonethelessÂ melancholic as he went down memory lane to recall tense moments that characterisedÂ the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12 1993 presidential election.
Adebayo was the guest lecturer at the occasion which was organised by the Lagos State Government to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the annulled election.
The election had been annulled by the military junta headed by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida after results from most parts of the country had indicated that the late politician and presidential candidate of the Social Democratic PartyÂ Chief MKO Abiola was set win the polls.
Williams who spoke onÂ the topic â€œvarieties of annulmentsâ€ compared the rigging of the 2007 general elections to the annulment of the 1993 polls both of which he described as â€œabrogations ofÂ the will of the people.â€
He also said the Federal Governmentâ€™s rejection of certain aspects of the recommendations of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais Electoral Reforms Committee ( ERC) was another way of annulling the will of the people since the committee consulted widely within the country before arriving at its submission. Governor of Lagos State Mr Babatunde Raji Fasholaâ€™sÂ ( SAN)Â proposal -amidst shouts of Eko oni baje which literally translates intoÂ Lagos will not spoil -Â that the late Abiola be honoured posthumously received instant ovation from the audience.
Pointing out the link between democracy and development, Fashola declared that there cannot be regular power supply nor any other meaningful development without entrenchment of democracy in the country. Apart from pro-democracy activists several prominent politicians also share the view that Abiola should be immortalised. For instance, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Sunbo OnitiriÂ expressed this view when he spoke to Sunday Vanguard.
Said he: â€œ I well I will tell you that we have not done well. And the reason is not farfetched.Â Those at the helm of affairs now are not the right people. So there is nothing to celebrate. It is because those that are at the helmÂ of affairs now are not the right people that can take this nation to anywhere. This country is unfortunate to have some elements that have hijacked the political structure of this nation. When we fought for democracy, these people were against us. In fact they were enemies of democracy.â€
He coninued: â€œThey didnâ€™t understand the purpose of our fight.Â IfÂ we look back to the struggle of democracy byÂ NADECO, you will know that June 12 is important.Â MKO paid theÂ supreme sacrifice for democracy.Â He died for democracy but some elementsÂ who donâ€™t want democracy to thrive , hijacked the structure and they are benefitting from it.
They are not out to render any service to this nation; they are out to loot the nation and that is what they are doing. Some of themÂ who fought against June 12Â are not supposed to pose as democrats.Â What good do you think they can do for this nation? â€œThese are people who should not have been there in the first instance and that is the problem we are having in this nation.Â I am still insisting that Abiola deserves to be honoured because of the supreme sacrifice he made.
When you look at those who are at the helm of affairs, 99 per cent of them are not supposed to have been there. like Fela Anikulapo Kuti said that we haveÂ vagabonds in power. Nigerians will never reap any dividend of democracy if these people continue to be at the helm of affairs in this nation , even if they celebrate 50 or 100Â yearsÂ of democracy, we cant go far with them.
May 29 is not a democracy day, the democracy day is June 12.Â June 12 was when we willingly exercised our right to choose our leadersâ€ He maintained that some of the people in the National Assembly are not supposed to be there adding that they areÂ there to serve their selfishÂ interest. â€œThey will never serve the interest of Nigeria. That is why they have not been able to make quality laws.
They donâ€™t even talk about the plight of the masses.Â The National Assembly is far remorse from the feeling of ordinary Nigerian. Some of themÂ rarely go to their constituencies .Until we have change and when we have the right people at the helmÂ of affairs in this country, that is when we will get it right.
He maintained that even the seven point agenda can never work becauseÂ the president is surrounded by wrong people who cannot perform. If you look at the ministers, theyâ€™ve been appointed by god-fathers and they are expected to pay back as well. How do you expect that type of team to deliverâ€
He continued: â€œ They are not interested in the seven point agenda ofÂ the president.Â Until president Yarâ€™Adua removes or drops all the ministers and appointÂ professionals from the universities and religious bodies who are committed to serve the interest of the people, that is when any agenda can work. The war against corruption is not even getting tougher, its even getting worse. In four years time, there will be nothing to show until he removes the ministers given to him by god-fathers, and those who hate this country.â€
JUNE 12: Lest we forget
By Charles Kumolu
June 12, 1993 be suspended. An Abuja High court headed by Justice Bassey Ikpeme at grants the request of Association for Better Nigeria to suspend the June 12 presidential elect.
June 11 1993
President Babaginda orders thatÂ the elections should proceed against the wishes of his colleagues.
June 12, 1993-Peaceful election nationwide.
Results from 30Â states dulyÂ released to the public by the NationalÂ headquarters of NEC.
NEC Chairman, Humphrey Nwosu, suddenly stops the display of the results on the Public Notice Board at NECâ€™s headquarters in Abuja.
ABN returns to courtÂ to stop the announcement of the results.
NEC Chairman officially announces the suspension of the June 12 election results â€œuntil further noticeâ€
June 18 1993
Fourteen SDP governors meet in Lagos and proclaim Abiola as President-elect.
General Babangida and Prof Omo Omoruyi were reported to have agreed that the election was the â€œbest in the nationâ€™s historyâ€.
The Armed Force Ruling Council, annuls the president elect.
The president addressesÂ the nation assuming authorship of the content of June 23 annulment. He givesÂ additional reasons for the cancellation of the polls.
Vice President Augustus Aikhomu while addressing state governors confirms assumptions on why the poll was annulled. He saysÂ Armed Forces were not willing to accept the winner therefore the annullment came as an alternative to bloodshed.
General Babangida stepsÂ aside and hands over to Ernest Shonekan to head an interim government.
A Lagos High Court declaresÂ the Interim government illegal.
General Sani Abacha sacks the Shonekan led government. He also dissolves all democratic institutions.
June 11 1994
M.K.O Abiola declares self president in what is now known as the famous Epetedo Declaration:
June 12 1994
Abachaâ€™s regime declares Abiola wanted.
June 23 1994
Chief Abiola is arrested, andÂ arraigned on the charges of treasonable felony for declaring himself winner of the June 12 Presidential elections and proclaiming himself President and Commander-in-Chief.
June 4 1995
Abiolaâ€™s wife, Kudirat AbiolaÂ killed by the agents of the state on the streets of Lagos.
June 8 1998
Abacha diesÂ mysteriously.
July 9 1998
Abiola dies under questionable circumstances in detention, after taking a cup of tea.
May 28 2008
Former Chief Security officer to Abacha, says Abiola was beaten to death.
Al-Mustapha, an intelligence officer with the Nigerian Army and a major player in the despotic regime of the late Abacha, makesÂ the declaration in a sworn affidavit dated May 20, 2008 and filed at the Ikeja High Court Registry before Commissioner for Oaths, Mr. E. O. Ajiboye.