By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Former member of the House of Representatives, former Senate Chief Whip and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rowland Stephen Owie says the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election was a divine recompense for Abiola’s alleged past political misdeeds.
What is your perspective on the June 12, 1993 election?
When people talk about June 12, June 12; June 12 has no meaning. June 12 is the repayment of evil for MKO Abiola. Whatever you sow, you reap. I said about four years ago that if Abiola had been president he would have been dead.
You think so?
Yes, let me tell you. Before anyone can say that the annulment was evil they should answer four questions. Number one, who was that politician that brought what was called the Maroko land deal to limelight? Who was that politician who used the Maroko land deal as an albatross on the neck of Chief Obafemi Awolowo? Who is that Nigerian or group of Nigerians who went to Obasanjo and connived with him and removed the Electoral College act from the decree of 1978?
Who is that politician or group of politicians that aided the military to take over the government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983 after the NPN convention? Who is that politician? Who is that politician that aided the military in disqualifying all the major candidates of SDP and NRC?
I say if they can answer it and the answer is negative for MKO Abiola, then the annulment of June 12 is evil. But if the answer is yes and it’s MKO Abiola, the annulment of June 12 was the best thing that happened because you can’t plant mango and reap yam.
In 1979 I was in the UPN as a member of the House of Representatives and there was a provision in the transition decree of 1978/79 which made provision for Electoral College if the presidential election became inconclusive, and it really was inconclusive, because Shagari did not get two-third of the 19 states. So, we were preparing for Electoral College. NPP, GNPP, PRP and UPN we had majority in the National Assembly which constituted the Electoral College.
The late Mallam Aminu Kano of PRP, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of GNPP, Nnamdi Azikiwe of NPP and Awolowo of UPN had met and we had all met. But three days to the Electoral College Obasanjo removed the clause on Electoral College; he removed the goal post within the run of play.
The Electoral College was removed after the election when we were getting ready for it and that was why Awolowo had no other option and he had to go to court and the judgment gave rise to the issue of 12 2/3! A human being cannot be half, he is either full or… and that is why Justice Sowemimo said that that judgment cannot be quoted in future.
Abiola and Obasanjo were involved as Egbas to remove that clause. Concord brought the headline “Maroko land: Awolowo where is your sincerity”. We were in Minna when it was published. Look it deflated the old man, it scattered him, in fact, he was no longer himself and he started battling how to explain.
Now NPN went for their national convention in Kano and Umaru Dikko, he is alive, he said the presidential candidate of the NPN is not for sale. MKO Abiola wanted the presidential ticket he didn’t get it and he then came and aligned with the military people who now came in.
And IBB came and set up two political parties, Shehu Yar‘adua, Adamu Ciroma and other major contenders in SDP and NRC, overnight the military disqualified all of them, aided and abetted by MKO Abiola. Because if Yar‘adua were (involved) there was no way MKO would have won. He was not even in contention until the disqualification of these major contenders. That is why I said that June 12 was a repayment for evil that was done against other people.
But how do you see the June 12 election in terms of electoral conduct and fairness?
The June 12 election because it was an open ballot and had only two parties which cut across tribal lines was one of the fairest elections ever held in this country. June 12 showed what a good government can do in an election. If IBB and Aikhomu wanted to tamper with the election, they could have tampered with the election, but they didn’t. It was a free and fair election but what I am telling you is that the annulment that came later was the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.
What do you mean?
What happened was a repayment for evil.
But was that justified on the nation?
Yes! What I am saying is that it was God’s own work, it was God’s own work.
For Abiola’s alleged sin of…
All the sins!
But did that justify the derailment of the collective hope of Nigerians?
What is the collective hope of Nigerians?
Was the Buhari coup against Shagari justified? Was that the collective will of Nigerians?
That is debatable because many Nigerians welcomed the coup just as majority of Nigerians were against the annulment of June 12.
It is because you are a pressman. Do you know how many people in my village that were not interested and were happy with the annulment, even though some of us were not happy.
You, were you happy with the annulment?
The annulment served Abiola right, quote me! You cannot be destroying other people and expect to have victory. There is a parable that all those who destroy other people will end up having destruction at the hour of their victory. MKO should not have expected anything less. Tell me, was it justified for Shehu Musa Yar‘adua and Falae in the SDP to be disqualified? What did they do? Was it justified for Adamu Ciroma and co in the NRC to be disqualified? What did they do? They were all disqualified in both parties so that MKO Abiola who was a friend of the military could emerge as the strongest candidate.
It was no secret that he paraded himself as a friend of the military. That man could not have expected to become president of Nigeria when he had ruined many people. The truth is that God does not come down to do some of these things Himself. He uses human beings as instruments and that is why when a man is looking for elective or appointive position, maybe as LGA chairman, governor, minister or president, he is looking for an aspect of the divinity of God. It is out of that divinity that the man in charge of affairs takes, compassion, service to the people, ability to manage everybody, forgiveness.
Unfortunately, the moment you get that position and you do not utilise it, not generally, just some part of it…if you watch when Christ cured the ten lepers only one came back to say thank you, but he said where are the other nine? And if you read Hipppolytus he said that as soon as Christ asked where are the nine that the leprosy returned to the nine and they died of leprosy.