June 12: Beyond a “Harmless” Remembrance
By, Israel A. Ebije
Events after the infamous June 12 election may not be forgotten on account of sentiments that culminated in a bloodbath. The late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola was adjudged to have won election in 1993 and believed to have been denied his mandate. Twenty-seven years after the botch June 12 election, the pain continue to bite harder, building a critical mass, which makes it a potentially deadly part of our history.
Successive governments may want to pretend the June 12 anger against annulment of Abiola’s election has dissipated, or issues has been buried and forgotten, they have however failed to realize how wrong they are. In their usual amnesia, they have dozed it off, thinking it is a waste of time and resources to properly discuss the issue with patriotic intentions to appeal for peace or appease through immortalization of the late Bashorun. Instead, they are on another wrong turn in addressing potentially sensitive matters.
It is true Nigerians raise dust once an issue of salient importance arise and lose steam after few days, what people fail to understand is that Nigerians do not forget. Its only a matter of time before the election annulment, death of Abiola becomes an issue that may threaten our corporate integrity. We must realize that issues bordering around ethno, religious cleavages don’t just fizzle out in Nigeria, they have a life of immortality with potentially dangerous consequences.
There are merchants of terror across every ethnic divide in Nigeria who like Adolf Hitler of 1930’s Germany, sell evil ideas in chocolate containers for good people to consume and turn them to zombies. There are two major areas a terror genius can lash at, first the validity of annulment, secondly the remote cause of death. Already the second question is about to be answered. A report alleged Major Hamza Al –Mustapha, said he has a video of how Abiola was killed. Before Al-Mustapha, a former CSO to General Abacha’s claim, Nigerians already believe Abiola was assassinated.
The point is, Nigerian leaders have managed to take so many things for granted when action would have been veritable in solving problems that has high potentials of affecting our corporate existence. The usual approach culminated the post Nigerian civil war era. The three ‘R’, which stands for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration by the Gen. Yakubu Gowon military administration is adjudged a failure on account of lack of will to implement. The component of reintegration may have taken place to some extent, while the other two were completely jettisoned.
It is therefore instructive to intimate that Biafran agitators are engaging the secessionist gear on full throttle over alleged claims of marginalization on account of failure of the three ‘R’ among sundry reasons. While the issue of marginalization exists everywhere including villages, communities and families, the nonchalance of ruling elites has further aggravated already bad situation. The call for Biafran republic is having domino effect as northern youths have decided to take the issue to a different turf.
We may recall that south-south or Niger Deltan’s through ken Saro Wiwa called for a halt in the environmental degradation caused by oil spill in the creeks. The agitators frowned at the way and manner activities of companies extracting crude affect livelihood of fishermen. Gen. Sani Abachas’ administration instead of addressing the issues on the merits it deserve, took the shortcut to hang Ken alongside eight others. That act of tactlessness led to pockets of agitations with terror inclination from 1999 to date.
Today, we have all kinds of agitations in the country. From the south-east/south-south, there is MASOB, IPOB/Biafra, Niger Delta Avengers. From the North there is Boko Haram. The Fulani herders are taking their slice off the violence pie by raiding homes, farms, killing innocent Nigerians and kidnapping for ransom. There are real and imaginary agitations everywhere with dangerous consequence on hapless Nigerians and continued existence of our corporate entity.
Nigerians are so aggrieved with each other. The Biafran agitators have open fresh wounds with hate speech and secessionist advocacy. The so called northern youths are tired of the threats and have decided to heighten the stakes by calling for expulsion of the Igbo race from their region – a tacit move for anarchy. Nigerians are indeed tired of their federation. The only people holding the country together are the ruling elites. What divides us unites them. They control financial resources and have used it to control the will power of many dependent Nigerians. How long this will last appears bleak, as the street is already crying for splinter along regional cleavages.
Nigeria has indeed reached a cliff edge where restructuring appears inevitable. It therefore mean, we must return to 1960 where it was stipulated that all component regions should keep their wealth but contribute a portion to the central government. It also mean, Nigeria has been a big ponzi, our existence has been fashioned according to the prescription of the military juntas in the country for central government. If we must practice true federalism, if we must continue as a country, restructuring appears to be the only way out.
Let me therefore assert that once a part of the country unsettles the polity with unyielding calls for secession, other silent agitators will pick on things like June 12, others to set their trajectory for splinter. Remember, the north is known for “talk-and-do”, they do not mince words or “sit-at-home”. It is instructive for Nigerians to understand that united we stand, divided we scatter in piecemeal.
Ebije lives in Abuja, can be reached via; [email protected] or @ebijeisrael