-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:
THE nation Nigeria, did not begin from June 12 1993; but her elongated dilemma and potpourri of woes can be partly traceable to that hysteric and historic date.
That was the day ethno-religious politics was delt a huge blow, broken and buried: a moslem- moslem ticket was canvassed, projected and adopted to be superior to petty primordial politics of ethnic irredentism, greed and creed.
But this was to be short lived as the mandate was stealthily shoved aside and brazenly so with military brawn and bare face bravado.
General Ibrahim Babangida sure made a mistake. Whether he meant well or not, he sure did make a king
size error for not allowing Democracy to take off at least on a ‘shaky’ foundation under his watch. What was in his mind?
It should be recalled that before he arrived at the Abiola- Tofa debacle, he had earlier banned, unban and banned again some categories of “unwanted” politicians that seems to be hanging on his neck like an albatross.
The aspirations of the Shikanfis, Ciromas, and their counterparts in the South were given a boot in the groin as they were intimidated and ran back to their holes.
The Maradona himself had successfully dribbled everybody to the fear of his military constituency as to what he was up to and also to the consternation of the international community. He introduced a two- party behemoth that never saw the light of day and built secretariat for these inorganic parties accross the nation. Such a huge waste of resources.
Stories are rife about Babangida’s reasons for disallowing June 12. Whatever the reason, the great dribble took him face- to-face with the goalkeeper and never knew what to do with the ball; and so he missed the target.
Abiola sure had a good and robust plan for the nation Nigeria. His Hope ’93 campaign team, with a great mouthpiece like Dr Jonathan Zwingina did a great job. On the comic side, I remembered how Abiola was accused of wearing a dress with a horse on it which was the symbol of his Party, the SDP, at a time he was not supposed to be campaigning.
Zwingina went on air and brilliantly defended it by saying that what was on Chief Abiola’s clothes was not a horse but a Unicorn. Those were the days when spokesmen were pleasantly courteous and hilarious. These days, what we have is a bunch of caustic tongues whose consciences have been smeared by a hot iron.
June 12 1993 was a blessing. But it became a huge mistake made by one elephantine monster who came into our political life as a nation, bestriding a Trojan horse and occupying every political space as he looked at everyone with ignominy.
Maybe, just maybe if Abiola was allowed to happen on the Nigeria rudderless ship, by now, we would have been coasting home to victory. The mutual political understanding between the North and the South ( which threw up Abiola in the first place) would have been further enhanced.
What we have today is a deepening fault line and a discordant tune of mutual distrust and acrimony even in the very midst of daunting existential challenges.
Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election has gone to rest. General Ibrahim Babangida, who threw away our chances of Unity back then is ‘ resting’ in his Hilltop mansion in a serene environment within the bandits ravaged state of Niger. Yet, our nation Nigeria has known no peace nor rest ever after. This is indeed, very painful.
- Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online