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Immortalising Abiola

THE House of Representatives has rejected a motion proposing the immortalisation of Chief Moshood Kasimawo Abiola, the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election. Patrick Obahiagbon (PDP/Edo) and 38 others sponsored the proposal.

They argued that Abiola fought and died for democracy and won the only presidential election widely acknowledged as the freest and fairest in Nigeria.

The election broke other grounds when Nigerians ignored the religious and ethnic implications of the Social Democratic Party’s choice of two Muslim candidates on the same ticket. Abiola even defeated Alhaji Bashir Tofa, his opponent of the National Republican Convention in his ward and in his State.

Had General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration not annulled the election, Nigeria’s democracy could have become Africa’s role model ahead of Ghana.  At that time of the annulment, Ghana was still in the first term of its elected former military leader, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. Nigeria bungled her opportunity.

Abiola died in prison five years after he won that election in cloudy circumstances. The nation owes him and his family an apology for the way he was treated.

It is not enough to say, the Yoruba his people, had been compensated with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s eight-year presidency.

It is ridiculous to approximate handing the presidency to Obasanjo, one of Abiola’s most outspoken personal foes, as a fair compensation to Abiola. What is the compensation for other patriotic Nigerians who gave Abiola the mandate?

The argument that Abiola was not the only person who fought and died for democracy is diversionary. Those who made this argument brought up the names of Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, retired Major General Shehu Yar’Adua and others.

Successive regimes have honoured these individuals by embossing their portraits on our national currencies or edifices have been named after them, though there is hardly any basis for comparing them with Abiola.

On June 12, Nigerians chose democracy but our leaders decided to plunge us back to the abyss of impunity and sectional domination from which we still reel.

What happened on June 12, 1993, was stuff of legend to which generations of young Nigerians should be encouraged to aspire to build upon to achieve national integration.

It is unfortunate that the same forces of darkness that were motivated by sectional power drunkenness to annul that election once again rose up in the House to defeat Obahiagbon’s motion, thus annulling June 12 a second time.

The day will still come when the right thing will be done. We have not heard the last of June 12, nor will the matters around June 12 be resolved by only honouring Abiola.

One day, someone would have to account for the annulment of the freest and fairest election in Nigeria and the havoc it wreaked on the country.

Those who fear Abiola being honoured have a lot more to dread – it is yet morning on June 12 as condemnations have trailed every election since we missed that milestone.


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