June 12, 1993 is reminiscent in the memories of many Nigerians and international watchers in the annals of political history, seeming like it just happened yesterday. It is a day properly regarded as the authentic ‘Democracy Day’ for the murder of the country’s democracy by the then political players for selfish interest.
Celebrated in honour of the Nigeria’s democracy martyr, Late Chief M.K.O Abiola, famous presidential flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who was presumed to have won the June 1993 historic General Election in which Abiola and his Running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe of SDP, contested against Bashir Tofa of National Republican Party (NRP) and the former extended his defeat even to the state of the latter.
The election was annulled by the then Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida and his cohorts, on the flimsy excuse that the process that led to Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola’s victory was marred with corruption and irregularities. A development that ushered in political imbroglio that further culminated in General Sani Abacha’s forceful takeover of power, despite Abiola’s declaration of himself as the lawful President of Nigeria in 1994 at Epetedo area of Lagos Island, an area predominantly occupied by the indegenous people of Lagos. Despite his futile effort to solicit international support to reclaim his mandate, Abiola was declared wanted, charged with treason and arrested following the authoritarian order of General Sani Abacha, who sent 200 police vans to bring him to incarceration.
Abiola remained in solitary confinement with a Bible, Qur’an and fourteen guards for four years, after which he died on July 7, 1998, the same day he was due for release, briefly after the mysterious demise of General Sani Abacha on June 8, 1998. While autopsy report revealed that Abiola died of natural cause, many Nigerians took the report with a pinch of salt, following Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, Al-Mutsapha’s assertion that he was rather beaten to death.
June 12, in the opinion of most Nigerians, is very symbolic, not merely to honour Abiola, the democracy martyr and his victory in an election adjudged freest and fairest ever conducted in the country, but to expose the paradox of a crawling nation at 61. It was a day when the wishes of the over 100 million Nigerians was subverted by the whims and caprices of few individuals who felt they were in charge, forgetting the transient nature of power.
It was a day the foundation and groundwork for Nigeria’s democracy would have been laid. It is, however paradoxical that the “foundation was rather destroyed” and the “righteous” masses are now suffering the consequences that still stare us in the face.
The questions that bugs the mind of an average Nigerian now are numerous and still rhetorical:
Can we restructure this faulty foundation and restore the lost glory of the most enviable black nation on the surface of the earth?
Can we put the ugly parts of our history behind us and forge ahead as one united entity?
Can we accept our common fate and eschew the gospel of ethnicity, religion and political sentiments that always becloud our senses of judgement?
Can Nigeria ever take its rightful place as giant of Africa, where every citizen can be proud to be part of?
Will our leaders be humble enough to accept the blames of their actions, ask for forgiveness, turn a new leaf and put up a Patriotic spirit of building a nation that All of us – Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Tiv, Ibibio, Ijaw, Idoma, Igede, Yala, Nupe, Edo, Urobo, Isoko, Ukelle, Gbagi and many other tribes can have a sense of belonging?
The above questions must be answered by any candidate in the forthcoming election who feels he is qualified to lead us.
Nigeria is presently at the crossroads. We need a saviour who can chose the road that must take us to el-dorado and avoid the one not to be taken.