June 12, 1993, is undoubtedly a watershed in Nigeria’s political space. It was a time when informed citizens and distinct politicians coalesced to birth a new Nigeria and contributed their quotas to dream actualisation for both present and unborn generations. Distinguished Nigerians joined forces to dare the junta for its illogical action. They pushed their positions and demands under the aegis of the National Democratic Coalition. Many were arrested and detained but to sustain the struggle, some of them fled the country. This article seeks to examines the forces that shaped the past and may be responsible for Nigeria’s present dilemma.
Presidential elections were held in Nigeria on 12 June 1993, the first since the 1983 military coup ended the country’s Second Republic. The elections were the outcome of a transitional process to civilian rule spearheaded by the military ruler, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB). The unofficial result of the election – though not declared by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – indicated a victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who defeated Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
Consequently, the winner of the election was thus never declared as the elections were annulled by IBB, citing electoral irregularities. The annulment led to protests and political unrest, including the resignation of IBB and a weak interim civilian government, and culminated in the continuation of military rule in the country with Sani Abacha ascending to power as the military head of state via a bloodless coup later in the year. The Abacha’s government was marred by human rights abuses, especially the brutal assassinations of politically exposed persons including state-sponsored assassination of Kudirat Abiola and the hanging of activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, one of several executions of Ogoni activists who opposed to the exploitation of resources in their enclaves.
Historically and by a twist of fate, Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), the flag bearer of the ruling party APC, an undisputable champion of democracy, Jagaban of Borgu, a reformist and a trusted ally of MKO, “In an open letter to Babangida, Tinubu who was the then Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Finance, Banking and Currency, said, “Ever since your excellency annulled the June 12 presidential election, and ordered fresh election, a pall of uncertainty has descended over our beloved country. There is poisonous fear and anger borne out of perceived betrayal in the hearts of millions of our people. Discordant voices of hatred and disunity rend the air. Violence and anarchy reign in many of our major commercial centres.” Undoubtedly, Jagaban unapologetically is the symbol of democracy and he had paid his dues.
Harbinger of Hope; hope rekindled and ‘Renewed hope’. June 12, 2023 – our next democracy day celebration symbolizes a new dawn and represent the evidence of God’s unquantifiable grace. June 12 2023 will be exactly thirty years of wilderness experience for us as a nation and also the very first major assignment for the next President C-in-C of the federal republic of Nigeria. By all the indices and physical indicators the Jagaban of Borgu is the “President-in-Waiting”. God has commissioned a replica of Nkrumah, Nwalimu, Madiba and MKO in person of Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to navigate us through storm towards a rejuvenated economy and prosperous new dawn that will signpost the beginning of poverty eradication, restructuring of the mind and political stability.
“June 12 is worth defending with our lives, otherwise, our children will continue to be slaves in their own fatherland.”- Those are the words of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the martyr of the struggle against the annulment of June 12, 193 presidential election by military in Nigeria. She eventually paid the supreme price in the course of the bitter and bloody struggle that led to restoration of civil rule in Nigeria. Kudirat, wife of Chief MKO Abiola, the symbol of June 12, the freest, fairest and most credible election in the nation’s history, was assassinated in a broad daylight in Lagos on June 4, 1996. Rest on mama Hafsat! sleep on mama Lekan!! Rest in grace the great amazon.
Kudirat! You’re the offspring of Agemo. Agemo the spirit they hail Osaa! With twenty-four profusing mat with rare beauty, aestheticism and with beads and the maiden’s cowries. You’re the daughter of the one that doesn’t surge for Egun neither for the enigmatic Ologbojo and his complicating dues. You’re the offspring of Alare and also the daughter of Awujale hat murmured so well for monarchy. And slaughter the hen seasonally. You’re the processor of the hen. The cryptic hen of Ogogomoga That we brutishly tied with might and the rope was not harrowed…sun ree oo.
Conclusively, permit me to dedicate this article that focuses on our journey to the Canaan land to the evergreen memory of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and the forgotten heroes of June 12. Nigerians know little or nothing about them, a typical example is Journalist Bagauda Kaltho. Many of them are only mentioned in passing and hardly celebrated as heroes of democracy. Nigeria will be great again, the “Sleeping” giant will rise again.
ARISE ‘O COMPATRIOTS.