June 12, 2009

June 12: Why we need viable opposition — Yinka Odumakin

By Dapo Akinrefon
MR Yinka Odumakin is the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG). In this interview with Vanguard, he spoke on the historic June12 elections that was annulled by then Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and the need for a viable opposition. Excerpts:
The real democracy day is June 12. That’s the day that has been regarded across the length and breadth of Nigeria. That was the day we had a national consensus on how we wanted to move forward as a nation.

What we have today is not what we are proud of, we have not been able to build a country based on democratic culture, the vote of the masses no longer counts.

All that we’ve had after June 12 still reminds us that we have not had good judgement. These judgements could not be challenged in any court because there is no free and fair election. Every election we’ve had has been disputed.

1999 elections was challenged in court, the 2003 general elections was taken to the Supreme Court; and even now, Yar’Adua’s case is still in the Appeal Court just as we are celebrating another June 12. That tells you that the principles of June 12 have been lacking in all the elections we’ve had since June 12.

We have not had the kind of opposition I would have expected in the last 16 years. The serious opposition we’ve had was the one which forced the military back to the barracks. But in terms of serious political opposition, we have not had any in the last ten years and that’s why the PDP has been boasting that they will rule the country for 60 years. And unless we galvanize the opposition, the PDP will continue to bask in their euphoria.

June 12, not May 29 is democracy day — Ayo Adebanjo

CHIEF Ayo Adebanjo was until recently a member of NADECO. Adebanjo, a strong Awoist, is also of the opinion that June 12 should be regarded as democracy day. He argued in this interview with Vanguard, that the setting up of a mega party would outwit the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in future elections. Excerpts:

Those of us who fought for democracy know that June 12 is democracy day. May 29 was part of the agitation of June 12, when Abacha was sent out of power and a hurried transition was put in place. June 12 is the day Nigerians massively voted for Chief M.K.O Abiola as president until General Babangida scuttled it. That is the day many people voted irrespective of their religion and tribal affiliation.  Unfortunately, the military annulled it.

We have been fighting for democracy and have not got it right.  All we have had so far is civilian administration. The idea  that the government should reflect the wishes of the people, as demonstrated handsomely on June 12, has not been achieved, because elections have been rigged ever since.

The 1998 elections were rigged, the 2003 elections were worst. That of 2007 are still being contested today.

Some June 12 advocates have lost focus — Gani Adam

OTUNBA Gani Adams is the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC. In this interview with Vanguard, he said that some of those who fought for the enthronement of democracy have deviated from the struggle.

June 12 is the most appropriate democracy day. Nothing  happened on May 29 that makes it important to be regarded as democracy day; June 12 is the only day that Nigeria had the free and fairest election ever held in this country, it was the only day when Nigerians voted beyond tribal sentiments. As far as I am concerned, it is the only symbolic day for democracy in Nigeria.

Some people have forgotten the ideals, some have been corrupted, some infiltrated, while some have joined the bandwagons. Some of those who fought have lost the focus of June 12 especially some politicians who have their base in Abuja. Some politicians in the South West, who were also in the forefront of the June 12 struggle have lost focus.

Those who united to fight for democracy are not people of like minds, some of them, like you said, have gone into politics. And the unfortunate thing is that some of those who joined politics have forgotten those who fought with them to ensure democracy is enthroned in Nigeria. Some of them have even imbibed the character of those who were anti-June 12. But those who have not benefitted from the democracy they fought for are still in the struggle.