By Ebun Babalola
Itâ€™s beenÂ 17 years that the country conducted its first ever free and fair election on June 12, 1993, believed to be won byÂ late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola who was the candidateÂ of the Social Democratic Party, SDP which was later annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda, rtd.
Admiral Ndubisi Kanu was one of those at the forefront of the struggle to actualise the June 12 mandate. As pro democracy groups celebrate the day of the fairest election in Nigeria, Admiral Kanu looks back at the days of the struggle. Excerpt
Is what we have today democracy?
Nigeria before and after independence was a democratic country. Letâ€™s forget a situation where the military rule came into power. Weâ€™ve gone back to civil rule and that is people being ruled by people who are in civilian dress, yet we are still inÂ a situation where peopleÂ Â in civilian dress but who actually possess a military mind still rule the people.
This situation therefore cannot be called democracy. We have a unitary and whilst we have a unitary structure, you cannot be taking about democracy as it should be for a country like Nigeria . Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. Nigeria is not a nation yet but can become a nation.
Earlier you mentioned something about having a civilian government that is governed by military minds…
There are so many things that are done by fiat and that fiat is what Iâ€™m talking about.Â We have a centre called federal government where the structure of the land included so many people from different parts of Nigeria but who are working under a unitarized situation. A unitary system of government is different from that of federal.
And you cannot have a country of different people running a unitary system of government and achieve democracy. That is impossible.
Are you saying we are running a failed unitary system of government in Nigeria ?
This country is being run in a unitary way and not federal and yet, this country couldnâ€™t have come about without being federal and this country will not make progress unless, it goes back to federal . It will continue to encounter problems if it doesnâ€™t go back to federal system of government. And that federal will be a federation of different people of this country.
So how do you think this country can achieve federalism?
There is no two ways to it. The fact is that the goodwill of this particular system is much . We should go back to the drawing board and see how we can go back to federal Nigeria . The fact that we donâ€™t have violence implies everybody wants a peaceful atmosphere.
But, it was in the same country that a free and fair election was conducted on June 12, 1993. How would you justify this?
June 12 election was annulled. Some people were focusing on how to conduct a free and fair election. We had June 12 which was an example of a free and fair election by whatever standard and we are talking about how to achieve a free and fair election.
That annulment of June 12 elections was the result of unitary system of government which we are practicing in Nigeria . It is impossible to annul June 12 election under a federal system of government. And if we continue with Unitarianism, that experience could still repeat itself.
We should aim at having a federal country and not a unitary government if there will be a free and fair election.Â June 12 was soÂ significant to show how Unitarianism can destroy a mighty country like Nigeria and if June 12 wasnâ€™t annulled, the country would have improved positively.
Would you say the leadership of this country hasnâ€™t helped the situation?
The problem is not leadership or followership but the structure on ground. I donâ€™t want to start mentioning names.
What do you think about Jonathan contesting in view ofÂ the zoning policy of PDP and should IBB contest as well?
For me, all these are distractions. What I preach is that Nigeria should go back to federalism. Any country that is depending on individuals without the institutional and structural provision put in place is giving itselfÂ headache.
We should have a structure that checks the bad and encourages the good, and then things will be better.
How best should Abiola be immortalised and June 12 actualised?
He has already been immortalised by whatever forces or factors that annulled June 12 free and fair election.
It is something that remains in the mind of every Nigerian. Some people think, they are doing theÂ late Abiola or his family a favour by talking of immortalisation but I tell you that a country where such evil was practised should work towards a positive change.
Anything different from that is a deceit and destroying the common will of Nigerians. Therefore, to honour that experience, there is need to go back to federalism.