By Jude Obuseh
if this government truly believes on June 12, the last presidential election wouldn’t have been allowed to stand because it did not reflect the true wishes of Nigerians as June 12 truly did – Yinka Odumakin
PRELUDE to the conclusion of its tenure, the eighth Senate assented to a bill earlier passed by the House of Representatives, which confirmed June 12 as Nigeria’s official Democracy Day, 26 years after the acclaimed freest and fairest election in the country’s political history was annulled via jackboot fiat. Accordingly, the National Holiday Act was rejigged to move Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12.
However, May 29 remains sacrosanct as the date when one administration will hand over to a succeeding one in compliance with provisions of the 1999 Constitution regarding the tenure of administrations in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier – during his first tenure as a civilian President – in June 2018 declared that Democracy Day would be marked on June 12 of every year.
Checkered democratic history
He made the declaration when the Federal Government honoured Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, with the posthumous national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, the country’s highest national award. Abiola’s running mate in the election, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, and the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, a foremost human rights lawyer, was likewise honoured with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, award, the second highest national honour.
That the aforesaid gesture is long overdue cannot be overemphasized. June 12, 1993, remains an indelible watershed in the country’s checkered democratic history, if not for anything, but for the collective manner Nigerians, regardless of primordial cleavages and politically invented animosities spoke out with one voice in their collective determination to put an end to the massive mess they were sordidly enmeshed inconsequent to several years of khaki misrule; an evergreen date when Nigerians united to chart a new course for their country’s future development. The pernicious, arcane and asinine annulment notwithstanding, June 12 will forever be remembered as the date when Nigerians made a united charge for true change.
However, despite its welcome appeal, I am of the opinion that the elevation of June 12 to the status of Democracy Day is nothing but a Trojan horse; a deceptive charade mischievously orchestrated by a crop of political journeymen to fool Nigerians into seeing foul as fair; an artfully designed political gimmick that is aimed at covering up the current administration’s several avoidable goofs. It is part of a grand stratagem concocted by an increasingly unpopular government to mobilize public support for its several murderous programmes – the over-hyped “people friendly policies” – that have transformed Nigerians into Hottentots and Zulu Kefirs in the midst of plenty. It is a poorly conceived, amateurishly executed public relations stunt; a damage control propaganda gambit that cannot fool any right-thinking Nigerian.
It is hypocrisy of the most atavistic kind for this administration to profess belief in the spirit of June 12, when its daily practices run contrary to the defining tenets of this historic date.
The PMB-led administration could be said to be suffering from a delusion of grandeur, by its association with the spirit of June 12. It suffers from multiple identity disorder. If the PMB-led administration truly believes in the sanctity of June 12 as a symbol of democracy, why has it continued to brazenly contravene all known democratic norms since it came on board in 2015? Why does this administration pay deaf ears to popular entreaties for better deals for its largely impoverished populace? Why does it respond, Gestapo style, with fire and brimstone to any perceived challenge to its hegemony?
Why does it make political appointments on the grounds of nepotistic, ethnic, and other parochially sectional considerations?
Why does it seek to squeeze other political parties into oblivion, when the country supposedly operates a multi-party system as defined by the Constitution? Why does it flagrantly disobey court orders? Why, contrary to the principle of Separation of Powers, as provided in the Constitution, has the executive arm of PMB’s administration completely sequestrated and usurped the functions of the legislative and judicial arms of government? Are these pernicious dispositions in the spirit of June 12?
What is democratic about a system in which full citizenship participation in the electoral process is not guaranteed, and where eligible voters are systematically disenfranchised through technical defaults and other mischievous machinations of the cuckolding narcissists in the mansions of power? What is democratic about a government that regularly capitalises on the ignorance, poverty and passivity of the larger population to influence the conduct and outcome of elections? What is democratic about a government that does not comprehensively fight corruption and the abuse of power by elected officials? What is democratic about a government that cannot guarantee the security of the lives and property of its citizens, a cardinal fiduciary responsibility it owes the popular sovereigns who brought it to power? What is democratic about a government run by maximum rulers – not leaders – without followers; a government that relies on the naked force as its lingua-franca?
The PMB-led administration’s commitment to democracy is a laughable exercise in grandiloquent, quixotic pomposity that exists only on paper. What obtains in Nigeria today in the guise of democracy is an impassive political regime where the few misrules at the expense of the many. It is the antithesis of a system of majoritarian rule based on popular consent. Take it or leave it!
A call for justice
If this administration truly believes in the spirit of June 12, its recognition as Democracy Day should go pari passu with formally announcing the results of the election, declaring Abiola the winner, swearing him into office posthumously, and proceeding to pay to his family all the outstanding emoluments – salaries and pensions – he would have earned in and out of office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is the only way to give flesh to this administration’s professed belief in June 12, and convince Nigerians that it is not a political gimmick, as is being suggested by the opposition and other sceptical segments of the society – especially in the light of this administration’s poor performance rating since coming on board four years ago. By acknowledging that the June 12 Election was free and fair and that Abiola truly won the election, Mr President should proceed to do the needful…
Obuseh wrote from email@example.com. I return next week.
*To be concluded.