By Yinka Odumakin
A DAY before the June 12 event in Abuja I got a message from a very apolitical friend who is one of the biggest names in the fashion industry in Nigeria and it read “Good evening sir, can’t Prof Wole Soyinka, Mr Femi Falana and Chief Frank Kokori ignore the post-humus award event ? It is time for our leaders to brace up and avoid being seen as cheap people.”
I called my friend to tell him that though the decoration of that event by those he mentioned would appear like a breaking of ranks in an event where heroes of June 12 like Col Abubakar Umar, Gen Alani Akinrinade, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, among legion of those who sacrificed everything would not be present, I still believed you would justify your presence.
And you did on June 12 by speaking truth to power by telling the President to stop confusing the country by cuddling Abacha and hugging Abiola simultaneously. However, you also confused me a bit when you called on the President to establish a Hall of Shame for those who wronged the country the way he has put a Hall of Fame for the heroes.
Sir, the “Hall of Fame” that we can see at the moment has Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, GCON, the biggest traitor to the June 12 cause as the only man standing. The man who was Abiola’s running mate renounced the June 12 mandate as it was being annulled. He served Abacha as Interior Minister in whose pocket were the keys to Abiola jail house and as Foreign Minister to explain to the world why Abiola should rot in prison. Garnishing Kingibe’s event with the everlasting legacies of Abiola and Fawhinmi is actually disingenuous.
Abiola must have turned green in his grave seeing that reward in betrayal being handed to Kingibe by the President as a confirmation of a country whose soul has collapsed and has no moral finishing post. Abiola said of Kingibe in 1994 “When I asked my deputy (Kingibe) what are you doing with the usurper by accepting to be a mere minister, he told me he was hungry. And I said ‘If because of thirst you decide to drink water from the gutter, you’ll only catch cholera’.”
That gathering in Abuja on June 12 with Kingibe standing tall was a moral somersault for Nigeria with the message boldly written: we stand in the corridor of the treacherous to point at the ruins of the brave! Looking for another “Hall of Shame” outside the one where Kingibe was canonized is therefore proceeding on a voyage to Sokoto in search of a piece of kolanut tucked inside one Sokoto (trouser).
Aside Kimgibe, Abiola’s tormentor-in-chief was fully represented in that hall as members of his Strike Force, cabinet and other aides who played prominent roles in our darkest hours turned out in their billowing gowns to honour Kingibe and scoffing inwardly at Abiola and Fawhinmi the way a hangman who brings home one’s hanged relative shoes would do.
I had to switch off my TV when I saw one gentleman huffing and puffing with his hands in his pockets in that hall at our revisionist best as country whose moment of truth is still far away. He was one of the people in a position to make all the difference during the June 12 struggle but contributed immensely on behalf of those who annulled hope to ensure organized Labour did nothing in support of the mass movement. He was in Bonn in 1994 at a top policy makers conference where the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany was present. He used the opportunity to maximum advantage when he was asked what was Labour’s position on military rule in Nigeria while the winner of June 12 was under lock and key. He answered “Workers are only interested in food on their table and not who rules.”
He was in good company of those who lured Abiola into Abacha’s den, authored the coup speech that buried June 12 with dirty deals cut with the dark-goggled General. A bewitched people ignorantly celebrate such characters as their icons of democracy. While not withdrawing the commendation for the President for honouring June 12, we still cannot forget the role everyone played to “wrong the country” when it mattered. Asked in an interview in 1998 about Abiola’s predicament, his response then was clear “You expect me to have any sympathy for somebody who financed the coup that took me out of office.”
Air Commodore Dan Suleiman who was Chairman of NADECO abroad made some interesting revelation in an interview with Saturday Tribune of June 16, 2018:
Tribune: President Buhari was your colleague in the military, did you discuss June 12 issues with him during the struggle and the need for his intervention to get it actualized, given his closeness to the late General Sani Abacha?
Suleiman: “Yes, he was my colleague but we were both bloody civilians then when Abacha was in power. We were both retired. We met over it (June 12) when I was in the United Kingdom (UK) and I was the Chairman of NADECO abroad. Buhari advised me to come back to Nigeria; that I should not stay abroad and be fighting for democracy, but I refused. I said ‘look, my fight has not finished and until it is concluded, I will not come to Nigeria.’ But this question (about whether he intervened by advising Abacha to actualise June 12) should be directed at him (Buhari). Even though he was not in the military then, but he was close to Abacha because he was the Chairman of Abacha’s Petroleum Special Task Force (PTF). Did he advise Abacha then? That is what you and I want to know now. It is a good question which he should answer.”
Dear Prof, it would be pointless to have another Hall of Shame, methinks the remaining few who wronged the country should not feel lonely in another sanctuary, they should join their colleagues at Kingibe Centre.
•the Igbo dilemma and how to solve it
- By Obasi Igwe
- THIS follows-up to Chinweizu’s “Federalism, confederalism or restructuring not enough”, and Nwala’s response to it in the Daily Sun of June 4 and 7, respectively; and a Vanguard, June 9 Senator Uzodimma “challenge” to Igbo intellectuals to formulate strategy producing a 4-year Northern president, so that one from “Southeast” takes over in 2023. The three may inspire a rational self-critical discourse on the Igbo question, being probably in agreement on the intentions of the caliphate, the main, but not only source of Nigeria’s problems today.
They offer different solutions: partition for the first, conditional restructuring for the second, and a Buhari re-election for the senator. For quite some time, such multifaceted theoretical elaborations, natural to the Igbo democratic mind, were largely ignored, and everyone paid dearly in practice.
Unlike the eminent professors, the distinguished senator’s proposals deserve only a brief commentary. He is in the political class calculating that Igbo salvation lies in “Igbo presidency”, and that Igbo equates to Southeast. Such ideas bother less about pan-Igbo unity, and far disconnected from the national question, and the concerns and agitations of the deliberately suffocated Igbo youth, businessman, industrialist, etc. A prolongation of the caliphatist Buhari regime means a continuation of the atrocities, in the hope that an Igbo might after him, start dismantling the crimes. How to make this happen appears to be the task being assigned to “Igbo intellectuals”.
Those intellectuals may not meet that challenge for, whatever ad hoc steps that Buhari takes to “win” election in 2019, including the manipulation of the unlawful June 12 annulment, authored by the same caliphate that he is serving, cannot account for the thousands already killed in a Fulani war facilitated by his government against indigenous peoples.
His re-election will only encourage a “final solution” to the various problems bothering him: Igbo, religion, and Fulani lebensraum. No Igbo should procure such a fate for his people. We were fooled to acclaim a “war on corruption” unaware it was to conceal a political corruption of unprecedented magnitude.
On the other hand, nothing, including partition/Biafra, is enough, except thoroughly understood, intelligently led, and wisely implemented. Late father told us long ago, “Do you know that one can hold something in his palm and it becomes another person’s own without struggle?” Aburi is an example. The manner a visiting Soviet diplomat was treated became another. If more is needed, you may consult Mike Ejeagha’s chairmanship race between the elephant and tortoise. To Europeans, it is the snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory. Smart businessmen translate other people’s wealth into theirs, akin to the process of converting potential power into actual power. Pre-1966 Igbo knew some of this; the post-1965, including today’s politicians, maybe excluding survivalist traders, care less about them.
That was why rudderless Igbo could fight other people’s wars, encourage people seemingly comfortable with domestic or external imperialism to seek freedom, snatch coups d’état to save others from genocide, in poverty stubbornly impose development unto every nook looking towards the stone age, and eventually end up besieged by all.
Those behaving like the Igbo might be appreciated in civilized climes, but a queer approach to survival in the jungle, where actors define their interests more intimately. Not that for everyone and themselves the Igbo never tried at all, but that we need a little more introspection, rather, sophistication in dealing with everything...
To be continued.
Prof Igwe teaches Political Science at UNN.
Re: June 1 2 dissemblers
THANKS for your write up on the above subject. The problem with most Nigerians is that we forget history very easily. There are also many hypocrites in Nigeria. Friends today, enemies tomorrow. Just look at the names you listed that joined Abacha to terrorize Nigerians.
They are walking shoulder high today. They have been given more gusto by the present Federal government to insult our general good..Those June 12 dissemblers who think that they have escaped justice must not rejoice. The judgment day is going on every day. The fact that they have thrown their names into the dustbin of history is a heavy stone they are carrying daily in their conscience.
Permit me to join you in reminding Nigerians that the awards given to MKO Abiola and Gani will be meaningless if the ideals both of them stood for are not implemented. Restructuring is one of such ideals. Anything less is mere outward show that signifies nothing. All those who made promises during the 2015 elections to restructure Nigeria, but turned back that they do not know the meaning of restructuring are also June 12 dissemblers. —Tony O. Ekwe.