Letter to Government, and People of Nigeria.
JUNE12; A DAY IN SEARCH OF ITS ESSENCE.
The Federal Government led administration of Mohammadu Buhari in an unexpected swift political move decided to honour Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR, the winner of the presidential election held on the 12th June, 1993. Honoured also was a legal luminary, who for many years was only Senior Advocate of the Masses, until the needful was done. Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, GCON, a man who in his life time gave more pro bono service to the poor masses of this Nation probably more than any other man in the history of legal services in Nigeria.
He lived and died believing that no one deserves to be denied access to fair hearing and ultimately, justice for being poor.
The focus of the honour was on a man for which multitude of Nigerians laid down their lives in pursuit of the recovery of his mandate, who himself, along with his wife Kudirat paid the ultimate price with their lives in pursuit of the aspirations of the masses to ensure the mandate return to MKO. The 1993 general election is undoubtedly the freest and fairest election conducted in Nigeria till date.
Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola, a man who rose from poverty; triumphing over the pattern of limitations that has become the fate of his kit and kin. He was named Kasimawo ( let’s still observe if the fate of others will befall him), but this fighter had come to stay, and stay he did. Though born into abject poverty, he learnt to engage in fight for human dignity very early in life. It paid off, a billionaire was made out of a man who never knew what an egg tasted like until he was a full grown adult, eaten on his first visit to the Soaga family, a family that would later tie their daughter Simbiat’s hands in Nikah with Moshood.
His fight against poverty was legendary, so was his hatred for it. His, was a life lived to pull others out of what he was by destiny lifted from.
His fight against poverty was dirty, nothing was spared at winning the war against it.
Many stories abound of how he lifted many out of poverty, but the one that struck me most, is one with regard to a staff of his among many who bolted with Abiola’s money and went to establish a printing press in a remote corner of Oshodi community, where he was sure a man like Abiola would never come in search of him. He got it all wrong, M.K.O was one man who would go in search of the people anywhere, class never determined his bond with the ordinary masses. The story had it that M.K.O had gone to honour a family in the said community, for their new baby’s naming ceremony and while finding his way out of the community, someone with him had pointed out the printing press, and Abiola halted his train, came down and entered the printing press.
The man on sighting M.K.O, fell prostrate on his face in an appeal to M.K.O, who rather than get angry, he said “I am proud of you, if this is what you have done with the money”. He, then, in appreciation of his ex- employee prudence gave him an amount double what he ran away with.
That was M.K.O Abiola, always seeking every opportunity to pull everyone he ever met out of poverty. Interestingly, his kindness still unrivalled for many citizens, who were privileged to be blessed through MKO. MKO’s definite chief aim was his burning desire to see an end to poverty during his lifetime.
Nigeria politics had been synonymous with religious and tribal differences, but Abiola was a melting point, a rare breed billionaire who though a Muslim, gave possibly more to Christian charity and organisations than he did to Muslims. His bond of friendship cut across the nation, there was none among our over 300 ethnic Nigerian nationalities that Abiola did not have his mark made against poverty, he was a bridge built across every divide.
The June 12, 1993 election was annulled not for security reasons or failure of the National Electoral Commission under the able leadership of Professor Humphrey Nwosu but other reasons, foremost of them is, the electoral results which clearly showed MKO won the election, against the plan of the government of that day and particularly because they had underestimated Abiola and hoped that the tribe and religion factor will play up; alas they had been damned by MKO’S essence in politics, which transcended religion and tribe. To add to it, Abiola was a man of faith in God and service to humanity.
This essence defined June 12 and gave the Nigerian masses new values worth living for. They queued up behind the portrait of National unity, a man who in HOPE (93), will lead them out of poverty, even God cooperated with the yearning of the people at finding the way forward, as seen in the beautiful sunshine that ambience the nation, from Lagos to Kaura Namoda and Maiduguri to Uyo. It was a bright and beautiful day. A day whose tranquil Nigerians wished repeated in several other elections after it, but it has not been repeated.
A day whose hope we relish and desire to relive, but the portrait of it was gone, with robbers and looters and predators taking turns to lie that they would lead us there.
Kudos to Professor Humphrey Nwosu led commission. He was a right man for the job of our electoral umpire, a man of steel endowed with rounded intelligence, an accomplished academia, who was denied the honour relishing the sumptuous cake of June 12 everyday of his life, as the man that gave Nigerians an election that even international community could not fault. He came up with the protection formula against electoral manipulation, “OPTION A4”, a fool proof, that left the military clique of Babagida and Abacha particularly with no choice than the unfortunate annulment
of June 12, 1993, free and fair elections.
Nigerians had lined up in hope behind HOPE to bid FAREWELL TO POVERTY; THERE WAS NO GOING BACK. Unbelievably the military had thought that the Muslim/ Muslim ticket of Abiola/ Kingibe will do the magic, but the magic of their expectations became a miraculous passion to push through the actualization of June 12 mandate; a movement beyond what the barrel of gun could curtail was born.
They marched in HOPE to trample on poverty, trampled the wishes of Babagida to step aside and made it a stay back. He was gone and never to be seen in leading the Nation. The June 12 movement consumed the political career of many people who betrayed the people. Among such is Babagana Kingibe, it also brought to national lime light the political stewardship of persons who laboured on the side of the people, principal among who are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Kayode Fayemi, Shehu Sanni.
The heroes of June 12 cannot be limited to MKO Abiola, several others, such as, Alfred Rewane, Iyalode Bisoye Tejuosho and many other ordinary Nigerians, whose blood became the price of purchase for our Democracy.
Others who deserves more than a mere mention in the June 12 struggle, are Also Aka-Basorun, Dr, Beko Ransome Kuti, Femi Falana SAN, Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Mike Igini, Sowore, the people’s comrade, Mohammed Fawehinmi, Ademola Ogunlana and many others, who for want of space are not mentioned here, though their contribution to the struggle is worth a book.
The spirit, soul and body of the struggle however were the unknown, unheard and unsong youths, among whom am proud to be numbered, who daily pour to the street to echo the voices of our celebrated commanders.
The HOPE Abiola’s candidacy offered were expressed in languages both simple and emphatic; of speech and body language. The message was loud and clear, heard and understood. “FAREWELL TO POVERTY “, June 12, for a common Nigerian was the date a terminal date of poverty in the land was set.
The responsibility before Muhammadu Buhari’s administration goes beyond the recognition of June 12 as our Democracy Day and national holiday.
We are eternally grateful to the unseen hand of God and mouths of men used to give us this day. We recognise also the institute of the National Assembly who responded swiftly to make sacred this day as democracy day.
Our expectation however is the essence of June 12, which is FAREWELL TO POVERTY, a wish which since the inauguration of the fourth republic had remained elusive, with a downward movement at the turn of this administration, a mirage it has become as global poverty indexes indicate.
The Spirit of June has inspired the passion to bid FAREWELL TO POVERTY in the masses of our people.
MKO Abiola never came into politics for honour, he did to lead Nigerians to bid farewell to poverty, a befitting post humus honour will therefore be, to see what he died for become a living reality, of almost 100 million Nigerians who are living below per capital ratio.
As we celebrate this day, please do so, with renewed quest for true federalism, which is a sure panacea to poverty.
Religious differences melted in the hero MKO was, a lesson must be learnt from this by all politicians, and the people, that a true national leader will not play the beat of religion, neither should anyone who want the country to develop dance to such beat.
President Mohammadu Buhari should live a life that honours MKO and leave a legacy that promote his legacy. Farewell to Poverty must be the mantra to be projected by this administration, in it’s next level programmes. The body language of the President must be modelled after MKO Abiola, who though a pious and devoted Muslim, humanity was never in doubt of his love for all.
Left out of the honour, he so surely deserve is Professor Humphrey Nwosu, his consideration and recognition need no further delay, reason must not be given to those canvassing hatered for the Igbos by Mr President.
Project Victory Call Initiatives aka PVC-NAIJA, use this occasion of June 12 celebration to extend our hand of fellowship to the government, and people of Nigeria at home and in Diaspora at engaging the 9th Assembly in drawing up the *Agenda for Restructuring* in the life of this administration.
A restructured Nigeria will lead us forward, to the heights that Abiola dreamt. Then alone, can we look back and bid final farewell to poverty.
It is at such point that June 12 is honoured in spirit and essence beyond the date. Our hands can be lifted to bid final farewell to poverty.
When these are done, I believe Abiola and a host of our departed June 12 heroes will turn in their graves in celebration with the living, and say Happy Democracy Day Nigeria!
Yours in search of a better and greater Nigeria.
Dr. Bolaji O Akinyemi