June 12, 1993: A Historical Necessity For Nigeria


By Joe Igbokwe

Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the Presidential candidate for the National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1993 presidential election who lost woefully and miserably to the late Chief MKO Abiola was in the news recently concerning that historic election. Tofa said that “the June 12, 1993 Presidential election was a fiction and its anniversary not worth celebrating”.

According to Bashir Tofa, “only those who don’t have anything to offer to this country to move forward can still be talking about June 12 Presidential Elections…. I am not one of those people that celebrate fiction that is more reason I don’t like to be talking again on June 12 presidential elections.”

Reading through Tofa’s scurrilous drivel and political dishonesty, my mind at once ran away with this thinking that Tofa cannot get it. The crushing, humiliating and debilitating defeat Alhaji Bashir Tofa suffered on June 12, 1993 is still haunting the amateur politician the way that historic election is still haunting Nigeria 20 years after.

June 12, 1993 presidential election may not mean anything to Bashiru Tofa because he has no sense of history, he remembers nothing and hears nothing, but the world knows about June 12, 1993 presidential election in Africa’s most populous country, the crisis, the pains, the agonies, the tears, the killings, the deaths, the chains of events that followed the annulments of that election, and the price Nigeria has paid for this mistake for 20 years.

Tofa and his likes may not know this but the trouble of June 12 will ever continue to haunt us until we come to terms with what transpired in those years of the locusts. June 12, 1993 will continue to remind us of how IBB and Abacha used the full weight of the Federal Military Government and the instrumentality of State power and machinery to destroy Chief Abiola, his wife, his business and nearly five thousand other Nigerians between 1993 and 1998.

For the avoidance of doubt, June 12, 1993 presidential election was symbolic in many ways:

•The most peaceful election ever held in Nigeria since independence in 1960

•The man who won the election and his Deputy are both Muslims

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•It was the freest and fairest election in Nigeria since independence

•It was celebrated and extolled by local, national and international observers

•For the first time in the history of this country Nigerians jettisoned both ethnic and primordial sentiments to elect leaders of their choice

•There was no record of violence, intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes, multiple voting, rigging, etc.

•There was no protest from any part of the country until IBB and his cohorts started brandishing ethnic cards to stop the silent revolution. I can go on and on.

Twenty years after June 12 Presidential elections and 14 years of our renascent democracy, Nigeria is getting into deeper troubles everyday. Militant organizations have been continuously putting knives on things that held us together and the centre cannot hold. But of all these ethnic  organizations: OPC, MASSOB, MEND, BOKO HARAM, etc. only OPC was historically thrown up by the forces of history to defend their people when IBB and Abacha decided to decimate Yoruba leaders for refusing to accept the annulment of June 12 presidential election won by their illustrious son Chief Moshood Abiola. We may not remember this but IBB and Abacha descended on first class Yoruba leaders, sending some to their untimely graves, putting some in jail and chasing others to seek asylum abroad. At a time Abacha planted bombs in various locations in Lagos, had them exploded and many were killed and property destroyed. The ploy was to blame the Yoruba leaders for planting the bombs and then get them arrested. Abacha did it. It was in the peak of this intimidation and humiliation that OPC came on stage. Today we may never know the names of hundreds of southwest youths killed on the streets of Lagos and Ibadan who fought Nigerian soldiers deployed by Abacha with bare hands. I saw many of them cut down in Mushin, Lagos. These were the real heroes of democracy some of us are bastardizing today.

For MASSOB, MEND, BOKO HARAM, these are cowards and lilly-livered opportunist who did not raise a voice during the reign of the maximum dictator, General Abacha. The moment Abacha died these opportunists rose up to distort history. Today others can take MEND, BOKO HARAM or MASSOB seriously, I do not. They are historical cowards and people looking for five minutes to fame.

Fraudulent Nigerian politicians and destroyers of our history books will continue to make mockery of themselves by denying that the June 12, 1993 ever existed but those who know the facts will continue to set records straight for posterity and generations yet unborn.  June 12, 1993 will not go away until Nigerians learn to live a decent life and do things properly. June 12, 1993 will not go away until the rulers of Nigeria recognise the monumental, awesome, fearsome and maximum sacrifice made by Chief Moshood Abiola, his wife and hundreds of others to earn democracy for Nigeria. Until wise Nigerians advice our leaders to look back and put things in order, peace will continue to elude us. Case rested!

•Igbokwe wrote from Lagos

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