By Saminu Ibrahim
The national secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA, Alhaji Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi opines that Nigerians would resist any attempt to annul future elections in the country on account of the sacrifice of Moshood Abiola adding that President Goodluck Jonathan as a beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice should immortalise him with a great national monument. Excerpts:
NINETEEN years after annulment of June 12th election, any relevance?
Well the annulment of June 12 elections in 1993 which was believed to be overwhelmingly won by late Chief Moshood Abiola under the platform of Social Democratic Party SDP, cannot be swept away, especially to all democrats and people who want the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
MKO Abiola struggled to uphold the aspiration and will of Nigerians to transform military rule to democratic rule, but was unfortunately aborted by the then military junta. Nigerians up till now believe the June 12 election is the most credible, freest and fairest election ever conducted in the history of Nigeria politics. But the junta was not comfortable with the way and manner the winner of the election was declared.
Some people in this country looked at the election as inconclusive, but in reality the election was concluded; because as at that time, the chairman of National Electoral Commission , NEC Professor Humphrey Nwosu resigned his position in protest.
A lot of democrats were also arrested and detained by IBB who was the head of the country. June 12 is very controversial and very disturbing in the history of Nigeria politics. We need to celebrate this day, June 12 and we also need to remember this day, because it is a great day to all democrats. We need to remember MKO Abiola and also remember the annulment. It was meant to terminate military rule but was aborted. June 12 led to exit of IBB.
Is there any lesson the nation could derive from June 12?
What we have learnt is first of all Nigerians will not take it any more from any government- whether military or civilian to wake up over night and cancel elections believed to be won by the candidate of any political party. And we are going to resist any attempt to annul any election in this country again.
Going by the 1999 constitution as amended it is only the election petition tribunal, or court of appeal tribunal or Supreme Court that can cancel any election. No President or Governor has power as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution to annul elections. We have learnt a lot if not because of the June 12 annulment, Nigeria would have by now been celebrating 19 years of democratic rule. But now we are just 13 years in democratic rule. The military has taken us backward.
Attempt to immortalise MKO Abiola has generated protest, what is the way out?
The Federal Government has not done justice to late Chief MKO Abiola by renaming of University of Lagos after the man. Abiola is a great nationalist who fought for democracy in Nigeria. The Federal Government should name an edifice that would have national reflection, not restricted alone to western part of the country. MKO was a nationalist, a great democrat, philanthropist; somebody who fought for the survival of democracy. I mean somebody who forced the military back to the barracks.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is a beneficiary of the Abiola struggle. So tell me how can he (Jonathan) name UNILAG after the great nationalist? Why can’t he name National Stadium after Abiola. The man apart from being a great politician contributed immensely to sports development in our country. Why can’t he name a very important national place after MKO?
To me UNILAG is too small for Abiola. Let Jonathan look for a big national monument and not restrict Abiola to university of Lagos. However I call on students of University of Lagos to remain very calm and embrace peace. The President of Federal Republic of Nigeria has forwarded the bill to National Assembly for consideration. Let the students wait for debate on the bill renaming the university at the National Assembly.
If the bill is unpopular it will be thrown out, but if majority of our legislators say yes and uphold the request of Mr. President, then the students will have nothing to do but to embrace the rule of law.