By Yinka Odumakin
IN the heady days of the confrontation between pro-June 12 forces and the murderous regime of Sani Abacha, a retired Air Force officer from the Middle Belt area of Nigeria out of deep conviction decided to side with the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, to press for the de-annulment of the freest and fairest election ever held in the history of Nigeria.
When the Abacha junta went full gaga imprisoning the forces of good, burning the homes of Patriots and assassinating naysayers, he had to run for dear life to join forces who were battling offshore to restore the will of the people of Nigeria.
The gentleman officer on a fateful day ran into a former military ruler of Nigeria in his exile days who excoriated him for putting himself in harm’s way “by following the Yoruba to fight for their June 12”.
By the mercy of God,the gallant officer is alive today to witness the volte-face recognition of June 12 and all the cautious praise by those who remember our pertinent history and still stand on the lessons of June 12 and the fawning and genuflecting career opportunists, enablers of evil and the undue enthusiasts.
The third column in this season is that of the real enemies of June 12 whose bile is still as fresh as it was 25 years ago.
Whoever it was that brought the proposal to accept June 12 as Democracy Day and honour M.K.O Abiola is the new evil genius in town in this volatile political season when the toxic aroma of the Abacha years is still very strong in the atmosphere.
Yes,someone must have come up with this idea as there was nothing to suggest that it was original given the events preceding the deserved recognition and honour.
On May 29,the President made a “Democracy Day” broadcast without a word about June 12 or Abiola’s sacrifice. There was no realization yet that June 12 was superior to October 1 on that day.
To make matters worse, the President a week earlier was so effusive in praise for tyrant Sani Abacha who locked Abiola up for all the years he should have spent as the elected President of Nigeria when he received the Buhari Support Organisation led by Col. Hameed Ali, the Controller General of Customs who was a Military Administrator under Abacha and a member of the Military Tribunal that sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa and Ogoni eight to death.
“No matter what opinion you have about Abacha, I agreed to work with him and the PTF road we did from here to Port Harcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and on….On top of other things in the institution, education, medical care and so on”.
This is a follow-up to the canonization of Abacha at the 10th anniversary of his death in Kano where the President as a private citizen said the expired dictator did not steal Nigeria’s money. He has yet to reverse that comment even as his government is still recovering Abacha loot 20 years after.
And it is only the uninformed who would not see the fact that the current administration in Nigeria rests squarely on Abacha structures. Apart from the President who chaired Abacha’s PTF and the CG of Customs, the notorious Chief Security officer to Abacha, Major Al Mustapha is said to be a security consultant to the administration.
The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, is presently headed by retired Col. Muhammad Abdallah who was Abacha’s ADC and Ali’s deputy in Buhari Support Organization. There are a host of others in the top echelon of this government who worked with Abacha one way or the other.
For those who have a sense of history and perceptive enough, the actions taken on June 12 should attract giving even the devil his due which must be followed with serious introspection as the June 12 mandate is no longer realizable and Abiola cannot step forward like Kingibe who betrayed the cause to collect any award.
Those who stand to reap from this symbolism are therefore the political fortune seekers who may want to browbeat the unwary for some harvest. And we must therefore give them a run for their money so we don’t present ourselves as people with “cattle brain”(apology to Chief Ayo Adebanjo).
For June 12 to be duly honoured beyond political opportunism and deceptive purposes,there are true tests that must be administered in terms of the spirit and essence of that defining moment in our history.
First, there cannot be any serious commitment to June 12 without a deliberate effort to replicate the culture of free and fair election that unforgettable moment symbolises. We cannot continue to deny the people the right to freely elect their leaders and pay lip service to June 12. What happens from Ekiti on July 14 and thereafter will expose whether the intentions in the turn-around on June 12 are pure and noble.
Again,one of the campaign promises of Abiola was transparent governance as he promised to open NNPC books to the public and all contracts to be through competitive biddings. The Kachikwu/Baru spat that was neatly swept under the carpet and the opaqueness that would made the Vice President to declare we no longer pay subsidy only for facts to emerge to the contrary that “we have paid N1.4 trillion on subsidy” would make Abiola smash his “GCFR” like Prof. Wole Soyinka who is listed to be in Abuja today did to his own award in protest against annulment of June 12.
More importantly, June 12 was the day Nigeria was on its way to attain nationhood as all primordial sentiments were set aside to elect Abiola as President. But what do we have today?Fulani cattle herders have gone on a killing spree across the country in the last three years with all security agencies that should bring the killers to book making statements that encourage the killers to “carry go”(as the street boys would say ).There can be no other explanation for this irresponsible behaviour than what has been identified as the conflict of interest between the constitutional role of the President to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and the self-assigned role of Grand Patron of Miyyeti Allah.We cannot therefore be tolerant of killings of innocent citizens by their fellow citizens while doing shambolic honour to June 12 the day of inter-ethnic harmony.
The whole concept of nationhood has been wiped off our radar by the irresponsible handling of relationships in a multi-ethnic state from the moment, hope in the Nigerian project was annulled till now. The belated acceptance of June 12 as Democracy Day cannot restore that hope in the polity except we restructure the country to restore inclusivity (hope we have got the meaning of that word after that embarrassing moment in Washington!).A reconfiguration of the polity which was a major plank of the APC in 2015 which it could no longer understand after winning power is sine-qua-non to the restoration of faith in the Nigerian project .
MKO Abiola still speaks to this county from his grave with his words on June 11,1994:
“…ONLY REAL DEMOCRACY CAN MOVE OUR NATION FORWARD TOWARDS PROGRESS, AND EARN HER THE RESPECT SHE DESERVES FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.”
…THERE IS NO HUMILIATION I HAVE NOT ENDURED, NO SNARE THAT HAS NOT BEEN PUT IN MY PATH, NO “SET-UP” THAT HAS NOT BEEN DESIGNED FOR ME IN MY ENDEAVOUR TO USE THE PATH OF PEACE TO ENFORCE THE MANDATE THAT YOU BESTOWED ON ME ONE YEAR AGO. IT HAS BEEN A LONG NIGHT. BUT THE DAWN IS HERE. TODAY, PEOPLE OF NIGERIA, I JOIN YOU ALL IN SAYING, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
MILITARY RULE HAS LED TO OUR NATION FIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WITH ITSELF
WE ARE SICKENED TO SEE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SHOWN LITTLE OR NO PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT, EITHER IN BUILDING UP PRIVATE BUSINESSES, OR MAKING SUCCESS OF ANY TANGIBLE THING, BEING PLACED IN CHARGE OF THE MANAGEMENT OF OUR NATION’S ECONOMY, BY RULERS WHO ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO ANYONE.”
OUR YOUTHS, IN PARTICULAR, CAN SEE NO HOPE ON THE HORIZON, AND MANY CAN ONLY DREAM OF ESCAPING FROM OUR SHORES TO JOIN THE BRAIN DRAIN.”
WE ARE PLAGUED ALSO BY PERIODIC BALANCE OF PAYMENTS CRISES, WHICH HAVE LED TO A PERENNIAL SHORTAGE OF ESSENTIAL DRUGS THAT HAS TURNED OUR HOSPITALS AND CLINICS INTO MORTUARIES.
A SCARCITY OF BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT HAS RENDERED OUR SCHOOLS INTO DESOLATE DESERTS OF IGNORANCE.
PEOPLE OF NIGERIA, OUR TIME IS NOW. YOU ARE THE REPOSITORY OF POWER IN THE LAND. NO ONE CAN GIVE YOU POWER. IT IS YOURS. TAKE IT! FROM THIS DAY, SHOW TO THE WORLD THAT ANYONE WHO TAKES THE PEOPLE OF NIGERIA FOR FOOLS IS DECEIVING HIMSELF AND WILL HAVE THE PEOPLE TO ANSWER TO.”
Re:2019:Nigeria’s year of Zayed
DEAR Mr. Odumakin,
We cannot find a man like Zayed in Nigeria! That is the honest truth! We do not have any common ideology!
We have a group of people who think their way of leadership is the only way out for the rest of us! Why is it that when persons like the president of today governs, they just become Lords onto themselves!
I laugh when people say come 2019 power must change hands! How is that going to happen? President Buhari appointed all his kinsmen in sensitive positions! Police, INE, Army, Air Force, DSS, Immigration, Customs, Judiciary! Now tell me how this man will not do whatever he wants!
Killing of innocent Nigerians is going on everywhere in the country and we say we have an Army called Nigerian Army! I for one do not agree to any election. Come 2019!! I want a referendum. We can’t continue to live like this. It’s not going to get better and I am so upset with those who think things will get better. It can only get worse!
Go to your villages and see the multitude of young able body northern youths, molesting and galavanting around our streets and forests at will! They are arrogantly moving in and out!
Try and pick a fight with them if they stray into your compound. Before you know it, they are on the phone to the nearest Army barracks! Yes Army barracks NOT police!
What are we doing to protect our father land come 2019? That is a candid question Sir.