June 12: Salient Lessons For Democracy

June 12: Salient Lessons For Democracy
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Severally, the general election of June 1993 in which Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola was the arrowhead has come to the fore in political discourse. Abiola was believed to have won the election that was truncated by the then ruling military junta led by the self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, IBB.

That particular election for once in the nation’s political trajectory effectively jettisoned known ethnic and religious boundaries in the sense that a Muslim-Muslim ticket was plied by Abiola and his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe who were Muslims. Such a scenario would have been an anti-climax for any election before then where these dividing primordial sentiments did not come to play in the process leading to and after the election.  It was evident that after the cruel and devious annulment of the election, Nigerians were even more united to denounce the cancellation of the election that was adjudged the free and fairest election in the nation’s political history. It is still a subject of debate for pundits and stakeholders if there is any election that has beaten that record since then.

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As the military could not advance any tangible reason or put forward any convincing rationale for its cutting short the electoral process that was historic, it left watchers of political events with no option than to conclude that there was a conspiracy by the then power bloc led unpatriotic elements to promote a personalist transformation by the ruling military class to entrench its oligarchy by changing garb. While the political drama which diluted into a near collapse of civil society, the IBB regime succumbed to its will of enthroning a quasi-civilian government code-named Interim Transitional Government, ING, led by an indefatigable captain of industry, Ernest Shonekan, a contraption that only lasted a few months as he was overthrown by the General Sani Abacha-led bloodless putsch in 1993. He died unceremoniously while trying to forge a front that would see him become the only acceptable candidate of all the political players as a presidential candidate. The grim reaper-death terminated all that ambition and he left the scene for another unprepared messiah- General Abubakar Abdulsalam who hurriedly cobbled a transition programme that lasted about a year.

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That was the journey that took Nigerians to 1999, when Abdusalam foisted a constitution on Nigerians in a twist that ushered in the present democratic dispensation that has lasted till date.

In many instances, he has been qualified as a great patriot who wanted to allow the growing tension to be doused and for a smooth transition; hence all his efforts were hardly scrutinized by any opposing parties if they even existed then. All that was desired was a democratic government in whatever form or content. He was not considered a threat to democracy as he handed power to the one-time military Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was just freshly released from prison following his alleged involvement in a coup to topple the Abacha regime. The scenario of his emergence was believed to have calmed frayed nerves in the South West of the country which felt politically short changed by the unconscionable annulment of the June 12 election.

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The journey has been tortuous since 1999 when the democratic experiment began as there have been very trying times for the nation even as it is bogged by various divisive tendencies and political disharmony across various divides.

Agitations for restructuring, devolution of power, secession and sundry issues have become of potent concern to not a few Nigerians.

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AljazirahNigeria commends the Buhari government for collapsing the May 29 Democracy Day to June 12 as was being canvassed by many who think Abiola was a patriotic symbol of our nascent democracy through which he paid the supreme sacrifice.

In the same vein, we felicitate with Nigerians on this auspicious occasion and urge that we must have all hands on deck to further the cause of nationhood in an egalitarian society where all are allowed to live based on equity and justice.

We call on the political players in all realms to allow love for the country as the utmost so as to give the memory of our democratic heroes like Abiola and others a remarkable place in our history.

Aljazirahnews


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