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Comment, Opinion

Rethinking June 12

Posted: Jun 9, 2015 at 12:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Samuel Orovwuje


Let us learn to understand our differences rather than pretend to forget them – Sir Ahmadu Bello

Twenty-two years after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 general elections many Nigerians outside the political struggle must sometimes wonder how Nigerians manage to preserve the existential spirit of perpetual optimism in the midst of inexcusable and sordid disregard for the peoples mandate and those that fought assiduously for democracy.

Indeed we must celebrate NADECO, the umbrella socio- political movement that struggle and campaign for the actualisation of the June 12 people’s mandate and by extension the return of civil rule. More than anything else, their strident call on the military high command and their conniver to give up their game of power for a democratic process is appreciatively first-class for the new dawn. Following constant hardnosed demands from this uncelebrated group and their coalition of civil society counterpart, the country became democratized again in 1999 from the perfidious military regime and many Nigerians had reason to be proud. But the collective aspirations for a people driven constitution is still  far from reality and as the wind of change beckons, the ideals of true federalism and the devolution of powers from the almighty centre at Abuja is suspect.

First, in remembering the dark past of our democratic effort, we must salute the uncommon courage and toughness of Pa Abraham Adesanya, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Akin Akingba, Chief Odigie Oyegun, George Noah, Dayo Johnson, Dele Momodu, Ndubusi Kanu and Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the like to numerous to mention and on the other hand those who agonizingly died in the struggle. May their soul rest with the Lord.

Sadly, too many Nigerians do not know the contributions of NADECO to the evolution of the current democratic experiment that we all cherish, or understand that by virtue of the June 12 and the Abiola Phenomena; Nigeria is where it is today. Of a truth, history plays an important role in the reconciliation of old wounds; but we have refused as a country and a people to build for the future; the political elite and all well meaning progressive particularly the Muhammadu Buhari- led government must look to, and learn from, the past. In my view there has to be a conscious national awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action plan to change behaviour in line with the proposed new order. We are not there yet.

How do we do this as a country? First, through sharing the personal stories of those involved in the struggle in the public space. Second, education by exposing the truth of what happened and making sure it is never forgotten. Third, the 8th national assembly dominated and populated by the emergent progressives of the All Progressives Congress,APC, must also work assiduously to institutionalize June 12 and its existential values. Fourth, to begin a national process of reconciliation that would set the country on a bold new path, fundamentally changing the very foundations of Nigeria’s political leadership template in tandem with the wishes of people.

In truth, June 12 was a manifestation of the perception of the personality of Chief M.K. Abiola as a genuine national leader that would inspire and provide a critical mass for the realisation of a better Nigeria dream. Similarly, Buhari has shown deep conviction over the years on his desire to return the country from the trench and now he has the opportunity to do just that and he must sustain it wholeheartedly by being fervent about what policy and programmes he wants to achieve in order to inspire Nigerians to follow him and it is hoped that the campaign mantra of Hope 93 which is also resonated with 2015 change mantra campaign will be sustained. But painfully in Nigeria, the more things change, the more they remain same.

Indeed expanding public dialogue and action on nation – building efforts beyond the euphoria of change in government at the centre will be critical in the coming years. Although progress has been made, significant barriers to democratic values and mechanism remain daunting. The APC alternative political platform through which the masses have been mobilised to sustain a new dawn for Nigerians should not be wasted by cheap political opportunism rather we should dwell on democratic behaviour for national peace.

More importantly in my view the new government under the eagle eye of President Buhari must and should initiate what I call a national and affirmative action statement.

Finally, it is hoped that the real change for a new Nigeria lies in the pursuit of honouring the truth, untainted national reconciliation mechanism and the eventual enthronement of institutional integrity that would strap up the values of June 12 movement for a greater today and indeed a better tomorrow that we all can be proud of. Beyond doubt, Nigeria is on the match again and we are waiting for Mr. President.