June 12: Buhari’s Ride on a Masterstroke

June 12: Buhari’s Ride on a Masterstroke

No doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari is riding high from his masterstroke of not only giving vent to the 25 year old pan-Nigeria presumed victory of acclaimed Business Mogul, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola in the Presidential Election of June 12, 1993 but in opting to declare it Democracy Day in place of May 29th, a date

No doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari is riding high from his masterstroke of not only giving vent to the 25 year old pan-Nigeria presumed victory of acclaimed Business Mogul, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola in the Presidential Election of June 12, 1993 but in opting to declare it Democracy Day in place of May 29th, a date which holds little meaning in the country’s political history.

By aligning with the protracted popular agitation on the issue, he has dreaded where other leaders before him refused to thread. Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo who became the chief beneficiary of the aftermath of the annulment of what is generally perceived as the country’s freest and most peaceful election, by the Military Government of General Ibrahim Babangida, opted to play ostrich. In spite of tasting the bile of spending time in prison, he never kept his words to rehabilitate some of his prison mates. He also merely scoffed at the idea of redressing the matter.

Although Obasanjo set up the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa led Human Rights Violations and Investigations Commission (HRVIC) in his brinkmanship to heal the wounds of the past, he fell short of granting justice to Abiola whom he had already derided as not being the country’s “messiah”.

Buhari’s bold and highly refreshing decision to also don Abiola posthumously with the country’s highest award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) may have not only healed a sore period of our history but also assuaged particularly the people of the southwest who were already re-thinking their massive vote for him in 2015.

“In the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 is far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even the October 1st”, Buhari said, proclaiming it a national holiday from next year. “June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputably the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process”.

He had gone further to award the Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) not only to Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe but also to late Human Rights Lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi who broke ranks with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) then led by Mr Alao Aka Bashorun on the defence of accused persons at the Military Tribunals set up by Buhari when he was military ruler. However, many think Kingibe who jumped ship shortly before the intensification of the struggle to revalidate the June 12, 1993 presidential election victory and was ready to barter Abiola for a mess of pottage, was the least deserving of such an award.

While the invitation to Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana to grace the investiture is quite heart warming, the silence on other prominent leaders of the pro-democracy movement like Chief Anthony Eronmonsele Enahoro, chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Baba Omojola, coordinator, Socialist Revolutionary Vanguard (SRV), Dr Bekololari Ransome Kuti, chairman, Campaign for Democracy (CD), Mr Chima Ubani, General Secretary of CD, Dr Sylvester Odion Akhaine, now associate professor at the Lagos State University (LASU), Col Dangiwa Umar who resigned his commission on account of the annulment and many other activists who played significant role in the movement to revalidate the victory, is not salutary.

It may be some mute point trying to gauge political calculations from Buhari’s rapprochement. That his calculations is aimed at striking even with Obasanjo and Babangida, two generals who have been the arrowhead of the new wave to unseat the President could be regarded as fair in any warfare.

It may be inconceivable for a President who’s facing election in 2019 to be insulated from the political permutations that may characterise the process. Whether he stands enough chance to reap from this latest move may be forlorn.  Since both the annulment and Abiola’ death which took place 25 and 20 years ago respectively, may be too distant to make any meaning to 60 per cent of voters who constitute those from ages 18 – 30. They really did not witness June 12.

But Buhari who savoured a popular victory in 2015 and has seen his popularity dip on account of what many perceive as “surrendering to narrow and parochial interest”, needs to reinforce the flame of his new social engineering. Many who cast lot for the general in 2015 are disappointed that he has not rekindled the flame of his mandate.

Rather than rise to the occasion of building a new Nigeria dictated by the large scale approval that dogged his victory, he opted to play the Russian roulette while his government became the butt of deal makers, mindlessly stoking the country’s ethnic, regional cum religious divide. Instead of offering sop to the citizenry by putting spanner to the works and consolidating on the 2015 victory, he and his principal aides opted to bask in a cocktail of excuses.

To further reap the political capital of his deft decision to make June 12 Democracy Day, Buhari therefore needs to take the gauntlet to concretise the significance of the popular vote by building a nation founded on justice, equity and non discriminatory practices. He must walk the talk of his party, All Progressive Congress (APC) manifesto to re-work the Nigeria polity by returning it to a truly federal state in the vision of the country’s founding fathers. He needs to be in synch with genuine forces who are agitating for “restructuring” of Nigeria.

He must avoid pandering to narrow ethnic, regional cum religious interests in taking major decisions. His government should eschew narrow politics and strive to build enduring socio infrastructure in the country. The slow pace of work on vital road links like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the East West road (with the building of the bridge linking Oron to Calabar), Enugu- Onitsha expressway, Shagamu-Benin Expressway and Okene-Benin expressway three years after the Buhari government came to power is particularly discomforting.

Ditto for the dithering over the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Calabar railway and the rebuilding of all the access roads and bridges leading to Apapa industrial cluster, which is home to two of Africa’s largest ports. No meaningful move can be taken at rebuilding the economy without ensuring prompt access to the country’s ports.

It’s quite cheering that the government has awarded contracts for the rebuilding of both the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway and the Shagamu-Ikorodu road, it needs to also rebuild major international routes like the Lagos-Idiroko expressway and collaborate with the Lagos state government to rebuild the Lagos-Badagry road. All other vital infrastructure across the country should also be rebuilt. It must consider fixing the country’s epileptic power as top priority to stimulate the manufacturing and other sectors of the economy to provide massive jobs.

Buhari must rise to the status of true statesmanship by re-working his lopsided appointments which has given the leadership of virtually all heads of the security apparati to the north in defiance of the country’s multi-ethnic cum religious nature. He needs to be more even handed in his dealings. He must take urgent steps to halt the rampaging killer herdsmen who have turned many parts of the middle belt and southern part of the country to killing fields.

Apart from soothing the opprobrium of his romance with late dictator, General Sani Abacha who has been presented as a saint despite overwhelming evidence that his itchy hands have seen the laundering of millions of dollars of Nigeria’s funds in foreign banks, Buhari’s anti-corruption stance must also be given fillip by avoiding the pitfalls of targeting only members of the opposition.




Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Top Authors

Most Commented

Featured Videos