June 13, 2009

June 12: A date that remains indelible

By Okey Ndiribe & Charles Kumolu

ALthough many of the gaily dressed  youths seated inside the hall listened to the guest   lecturer Prof Adebayo Williams  with half attention last Friday in Lagos,  the atmosphere  was nonetheless  melancholic as he went down memory lane to recall tense moments that characterised  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 Party  Chief MKO Abiola was set win the polls.

Williams who spoke on  the topic “varieties of annulments” compared the rigging of the 2007 general elections to the annulment of the 1993 polls both of which he described as “abrogations of  the will of the people.”

He also said the Federal Government’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 Fashola’s  ( SAN)  proposal -amidst shouts of Eko oni baje which literally translates into  Lagos will not spoil -  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 Onitiri  expressed this view when he spoke to Sunday Vanguard.

Said he: “ I well I will tell you that we have not done well. And the reason is not farfetched.  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 helm  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.”

He coninued: “They didn’t understand the purpose of our fight.  If  we look back to the struggle of democracy by  NADECO, you will know that June 12 is important.  MKO paid the  supreme sacrifice for democracy.  He died for democracy but some elements  who don’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 them  who fought against June 12  are not supposed to pose as democrats.  What good do you think they can do for this nation? “These are people who should not have been there in the first instance and that is the problem we are having in this nation.  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 have  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 100  years  of democracy, we cant go far with them.

May 29 is not a democracy day, the democracy day is June 12.  June 12 was when we willingly exercised our right to choose our leaders” He maintained that some of the people in the National Assembly are not supposed to be there adding that they are  there to serve their selfish  interest. “They will never serve the interest of Nigeria. That is why they have not been able to make quality laws.

They don’t even talk about the plight of the masses.  The National Assembly is far remorse from the feeling of ordinary Nigerian. Some of them  rarely go to their constituencies .Until we have change and when we have the right people at the helm  of affairs in this country, that is when we will get it right.

He maintained that even the seven point agenda can never work because  the president is surrounded by wrong people who cannot perform. If you look at the ministers, they’ve been appointed by god-fathers and they are expected to pay back as well. How do you expect that type of team to deliver”

He continued: “ They are not interested in the seven point agenda of  the president.  Until president Yar’Adua removes or drops all the ministers and appoint  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.”

JUNE 12: Lest we forget

By Charles Kumolu

June 10
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 that  the elections should proceed against the wishes of his colleagues.
June 12, 1993-Peaceful election nationwide.
June 13
Results from 30  states duly  released to the public by the National  headquarters of NEC.
June 15
NEC Chairman, Humphrey Nwosu, suddenly stops the display of the results on the Public Notice Board at NEC’s headquarters in Abuja.
June 15
ABN returns to court  to stop the announcement of the results.
June 16
NEC Chairman officially announces the suspension of the June 12 election results “until further notice”
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 “best in the nation’s history”.
June 23
The Armed Force Ruling Council, annuls the president elect.
June 26
The president addresses  the nation assuming authorship of the content of June 23 annulment. He gives  additional reasons for the cancellation of the polls.
June 29
Vice President Augustus Aikhomu while addressing state governors confirms assumptions on why the poll was annulled. He says  Armed Forces were not willing to accept the winner therefore the annullment came as an alternative to bloodshed.
August 26
General Babangida steps  aside and hands over to Ernest Shonekan to head an interim government.
A Lagos High Court declares  the Interim government illegal.
November 17
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
Abacha’s regime declares Abiola wanted.
June 23 1994
Chief Abiola is arrested, and  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
Abiola’s wife, Kudirat Abiola  killed by the agents of the state on the streets of Lagos.
June 8 1998
Abacha dies  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, makes  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.