June 12 still breathe
RACISM may not have a place here, but some of our leaders appear racist in their actions. They do not discriminate against their compatriots because of the colour of their skin since we all have the same complexion, but their political and social actions show where their sympathy lies.
We live on a continent where we believe in the brotherhood of man, no matter the colour of our skin as determined by the part of the region we are from.
It is unlike Europe and America where the Whites see themselves as superior to those referred to as people of colour. So, they relate with Blacks and Browns on the basis of this.
They believe that they are a superior race to which others must bow. They came to Africa to colonise us and left after plundering our commonwealth.
They never wanted to leave South Africa until they were literally forced out some years ago in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years unlawful imprisonment after a kangaroo trial.
Unfortunately, the dying embers of racism keeps burning in the United States (US) of all places. United? Is America truly a united nation, considering how it treats its Black populace? In the US, racism is a badge of honour worn by Whites.
Not even the emergence of an African-American, Barack Obama, as its 44th president between 2009 and 2017 changed anything. America has continued to treat its Blacks as unwanted second class citizens.
The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, by a White policeman has again brought to the fore the painful reality about racism in the self-styled God’s own country. What a misnomer when God is not a racist.
In US, it is racism, in Nigeria, it is marginalisation. Many of those who should know better see nothing wrong in marginalisation.
They will support it as long as they benefit from it. They are ready to trade off their friend, sibling, associate and even the very high office of president for such gains as it happened in the case of June 12, which 27th anniversary comes up tomorrow.
The June 12 tale is a story of deceit, intrigues, envy, ambush, hatred and bitterness all rolled into one. It is a story of a politician who his associates did not see as one of them.
To them, Moshood Abiola did not belong; he was a non-politician who came into their fold and dominated them as he did in eveything he was part of and they did not like it.
This was why his election was annulled and they abandoned him to his fate while paying lip service to his cause.
What happened on that auspicious election date in 1993 was, according to the late Gen Sani Abacha, a watershed. He so described June 12 when he inaugurated the Eso panel on reform of the judiciary.
What the politicians started crept into the courts in the desperation of some of them to ensure that the June 12 election final results were never announced, but the world already knew the winner.
Rather than be an impartial arbiter, the judiciary played into the hands of these politicians, issuing one conflicting order after the other, leaving the public confused on what was going on.
The judiciary burnt its fingers over June 12 as it abandoned its duty to unabashedly join the fray. Today, the blame of that dark era in the nation’s history has been heaped on it. This informed Abacha’s decision to probe the institution.
Yet, it seems, the judiciary learnt nothing from the June 12 debacle, going by some of its actions in related election matters of recent.
The June 12, 1993 presidential election, which has been described as the freest and fairest in the nation’s history, was won by newspaper magnate, the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola. But before he could be declared winner, his bosom friend and then military leader, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the election.
Till today, the nation has not been told the truth behind the annulment. Why did Babangida annul the election? He has refused to unravel the puzzle behind his action. He was however reported as saying that he would be killed if he handed over to Abiola.
Uptil today, he has not revealed the identities of those people. There is still time for him to salve his conscience and put a close to his ignominious role in the June 12 saga by namimg them.
If he knew that some people in the military would not allow Abiola to become president, why then was the businessman cleared to contest the election? The annulment of that election was the most heartless and callous thing Babangida could have done to his nation.
The Babangida transition programme was long and torturous and yet it ended in a puff of smoke because he was not ready to go. If he had his way, he would have perpetuated himself in power after suffocating, as it were, life out of June 12.
The annulment was to render June 12 breathless, just exactly what Derek Chauvin did when he placed his knees on Floyd’s neck and refused to let go despite his victim’s cry of: “I can’t breath”.
Like Abiola, Floyd died. But June 12 did not die. Both men died fighting for their rights. Abiola died fighting for his mandate which was freely given to him by the Nigerian people.
They are dead, but the causes they died for live after them. Today, the US knows no rest in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
Across the country, Blacks and their White sympathisers have intensified the fight for equality in a nation which prides itself as one in which “all men were born equal”. Do not snigger at that.
Abiola surprised many by putting up a fight for June 12. Not many believed that he would go out of his way to do what he did because he was seen as an establishment man.
Today, he is benefiting from that struggle, though in death. Two years ago, recognition finally came for June 12 as Democracy Day, shoving aside May 29, which had hitherto been so observed since the return to democracy in 1999.
Abiola may not have mounted the saddle as president, but he will be remembered for bequeathing to the nation June 12 as Democracy Day.
If Abiola had not fought for his mandate; if he had listened to those friends, kinsmen and associates, who sold out in private, rather than stand on June 12, as they said they would in public, he would have ended up in infamy.
It is to his eternal glory that June 12 is still alive today and the vilest of his critics will always stand up in honour of this rare being who defied all odds to fight for what he believed in.