June 23 1993 On My Mind


June 23, 2011, was exactly 18 years after the former disgraced Nigerian dictator annulled the June 12 1993 presidential election on a blank sheet of paper therefore initiating series of events that have continued to hunt us till date. June 23 1993, was a day Nigerians received the highest insult from their self-imposed ruler, former General Ibrahim Babangida. June 23 1993 was a day impunity was celebrated without remorse. I remember precisely that on the night of June 23 1993, IBB came on air to justify the annulment. You need to see the comedian dancing to the reading of the substance he inhaled for the purpose of giving him the Dutch courage needed to face the bewildered nation.

Some people may argue that one is crying over spilled milk but the truth is that I have known that history is a very important subject even though I dropped the subject in my form three in 1976. Those who neglect or ignore history pay dearly for it one way or the other.

A single action of a totally useless and peacetime General called IBB initiated chains of events that took Nigeria backwards by many years. One is compelled to continue to tell this tragic story because I am told that a story that must be told never forgives silence. In other words if a writer is silent he is lying. Evil they say triumph in every society when good men do nothing.

As I reflect over what transpired that day on June 23 1993 and where we are now, so many questions come to my mind: where would Nigeria have been today if that election had been allowed to stand? Could it have been possible for us to continue to talk about free and fair elections in Nigeria today? Perhaps over 5000 people that died between 1993 and 1998 would have been alive today. Perhaps, IBB would have become an elected civilian president in Nigeria . Perhaps, ethnic politics and primordial sentiments would have been a thing of the past in Nigeria today.

Time they say is a great healer of wounds but has the wounds IBB deliberately inflicted on the nation been healed in the past 18 years? I leave you to ponder over this.


•Joe Igbokwe writes in from Lagos