My recent facebook post that centers on the theme ’12th June’ has cooked up some higgledy-piggledy kind of reactions from readers and so I have thought it worthwhile to make my point known to the whole whole in this publication. Let’s go a little into history:
Nigeria became a republic in the year 1963, exactly 3 years after her independence from the former European superpower; Great Britain. This means, even though independent from colonial rule, Nigeria was not yet regarded a sovereign state as it were because her sovereign powers still rest on the shoulders of the British monarch; Elizabeth, who was then regarded as the President of Nigeria and represented by Dr. Azikwe, the 1st native Governor-General.
Not until Nigeria became a republic, there was no true democracy. Nigerians could only determine who who there reps would be but their Presidential power resides in Europe.
However, after Nigeria became a republic, things changed as power changed hands from white to black. Azikwe was elected the first president and Balewa Tafawa continued as the prime minister. For a period of three years, the new born country was trying to survive from the opium of colonial rule which has undermined, stupefied and marginalized her for a period of 101 years (1861-1960).
In the middle of this however, there arose the menace of an internal crisis as the military seized power in a bloody coup d’etat on 15th January, 1966; ending the first republic and cutting the life of our new bride, democracy, short! The military went through different successive changes through other coups and in 1979, the man Lt.Gen Segun Obasanjo decided to hand power over to a Government of the people, for the people and by the people via elections; this marched us into the second republic which soon ended when Gen. Buhari again seized power. Major Gen. IBB again overthrew Buhari in a palace coup and after 6 years made reforms and decided to hand power over to what would become the third republic and hence 12th June!
The presidential race of the ill-fated 3rd republic was between SDP’s MKO Abiola and NPC’s Alh. Tofa. The Presidential election which took place on 12th June, 1993 was regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria as chief MKO Abiola was declared winner but few hours into the Jubilation, the President of the Federal Republic came out to announce what he later regarded as ‘inner caucus decision’ in 2009 that the election has been annulled!
Surprise, surprise! Jubilation terminated and tears of sorrow began to roll down people’s faces. The war/power tussle has just begun, the VP elect, kingibe ran to seek asylum into the safe hands of Abacha and the President-elect fought his way back by declaring himself as the president, this was considered a treasonable felony which got him jailed till he breath his last.
I was in Oba Emman Nursery/Primary school, oke-bola, Ibadan at this time. My parents were teachers and so couldn’t afford a TV set but we have ears to hear rumours and my neighbor’s TV helped. Galaxy/ NTA and rumours were my sources.
Today, we celebrate June 12. Remembering the planned death of the late sage and business tycoon, the President-elect who never took an oath of office. June 12 is often declared a public holiday in some states of the west, our leaders here claim they are descendants if Awo and therefore Awoists. They claim they are followers of Abiola but my questions are: ‘do we see the doctrine of Awo in their governing style? Are they philanthropic like MKO? What is the concept origo of holiday on a day that our franchise was rendered a sewage and bin-dumped
1. June 12 should be declared our new democracy day so that even posterity will know that the blood of some people was used as ransom for the democratization of Nigeria and must protect its integrity jealously.
2. Our leaders should give us dividends of democracy and probably make 12th June a commissioning day of excellent developmental projects, giving out scholarships and bursary allowances to students etc as a mark of celebrating democracy and respect for MKO, living out his good ideologies instead of declaring bullshit holidays.
3. We all should celebrate democracy in a unique way and campaign against ‘governance through force’.
Emmanuel ‘Tunde Abegunde.