June 11, 2024

Spirit of June 12 has been betrayed – Lloyd Ukwu, NADECO USA president

David Hundeyin

MKO Abiola

By Clifford Ndujihe

PRESIDENT of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, United States of America chapter, Dr. Lloyd Ukwu, has said that the spirit of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential poll has been betrayed given the flawed polls held ever since.

The June 12 election won by late Chief MKO Abiola has been adjudged as the freest and fairest poll in the annals of electioneering in Nigeria.

Sharing his thoughts on the 31st anniversary of the epochal election, which NADECO fought relentlessly for its restoration leading to the return to civil rule on May 29, 1999, Dr Ukwu said: “The June 12, 1993, Presidential election was a milestone in the democratic evolution of Nigeria. It remains the most transparent and credible presidential election in the annals of Nigerian political history; and interestingly, it elected a veritable national figure, late Chief MKO Abiola, to the presidency. The Nigerian constitution was painstakingly crafted to facilitate the election of national figures – unifying forces – as president.

Abiola was a quintessential national figure. Lamentably, the election was annulled by the then military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida.

“Outraged by this monstrous repudiation of the collective will of the people, Nigerians rose up in challenge of the annulment of the June 12 election. Led by NADECO, Nigerians fought against that rape on democracy, and its attendant social injustice, ethnic chauvinism, and dramatized contempt for the collective will of the people.  Ultimately, NADECO triumphed. It was the triumph of the forces of: equity and social justice over greed and the pretensions of an elite few; liberty and individual rights over despotism and repression; and the awakened aspirations of the people over the terror of the gun. It was a victory for the hitherto impotent masses that can, in their new found political relevance, walk head-high, knowing that the people are the repository of power, and that the terror of the gun cannot overwhelm the will of the people. It was also a victory that established a splendid precedent that any Nigerian, irrespective of his tribe or religion, can aspire to, and be elected, the president.

“June 12 was therefore not only a watershed in the chronicles of Nigerian politics, it also encapsulates a number of ideals, and is laden with symbolism. In recognition of the political legacy of June 12 and its import and symbolism, President Mohammadu Buhari changed the date for the nation’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 because, in his words, ‘June 12 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29.’ And he posthumously honoured the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola. He conferred the highest national honor, GCFR, on him. “In honouring Abiola and designating June 12 as Nigeria Democracy Day, President Buhari validated the struggle by Nigerians for democracy. He invariably recognized and paid tribute to the dead, maimed and scarred in that struggle for liberty and social justice. He made significant strides, though not enough, in attempting to reconcile all Nigerians and in healing wounds from the past.

“Not too long ago, the American chapter of the National Democratic Coalition repudiated one of its earlier leaders, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and formally severed all ties with him. This is because the presidential election that brought him to power was the worst electoral fraud in Nigerian history. The election was the polar opposite of transparency, fairness and integrity. It smacked in the face of all that June 12 represents. Instead of hallowing the spirit of June 12, the one time stalwart of NADECO and supposed champion of democracy hollowed and desecrated it.

The NADECO’s struggle for democracy was underpinned by lofty ideals and brave hope for a democratic, equitable and just country. They were ideals espoused by late Chief MKO Abiola and encapsulated in June 12. The coalition was populated by the cream of the Nigerian political class. It was led by Anthony Enahoro, the brilliant and gutsy First Republic political leader. Chief Ralph Obioha was head of the US chapter. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a leading figure in NADECO. All of them, haunted into exile by the General Abacha government, led the charge against the annulment of the June 12 election from Washington, DC.

“Ironically, the American chapter of NADECO disowned him. This is because his electoral “victory” in the 25th February 2023 Presidential election was an unconscionable assault on the institutional moorings of democracy and a crass disenfranchisement of the Nigerian masses…

“Tinubu’s presidency has been toxic for Nigeria. Its toxicity is made palpable by the pervading hunger and deepening and widening poverty among the Nigerian masses; spiraling inflation; steady depreciation of the naira; an economy tottering at the brinks of a collapse; an oil-rich country with the social indexes of the poorest and/or war-torn countries of the world, etc.

Nigerians are unsettled by his government’s forwarding and backwarding approach to governance. After the removal of the fuel subsidy, without the prerequisite groundwork, his administration is now telling Nigerians that it is still paying fuel subsidy. He signed the Student Loan Act into law, but it was later withdrawn. He recalled Ambassadors from their posts but with no immediate plans of replacing them. Then, there were the Import Tax Adjustment Levy, Expatriate Tax, and Cyber Security Levy which were all introduced and then reversed. In all, the administration lacks coordination and cohesion.”