By Johnson Amusan
I was particularly in a doldrum this morning before I received the call from two major members of one important platform. For sometimes now, I have developed some inertia against some activities on social media. This is to help me concentrate more on important private matters. The challenges in our society daily increase and the capacity to cope with them is being weakened in no small measure as well. And it seems a crime now to be a conscious intellectual in a society that is being ravaged daily by sociopolitical and economic injustices. And particularly about June 12, I have decided to just stay at home and watch the activities on television if electricity is available or probably embark on a write-up I have been postponing for a while now until I received those most important calls today from those our two members. I want to thank them for waking me up from my slumber and acknowledging me as one of the major participants in the struggle that led to the “democracy” we are enjoying today.
What I have however put down here is a summarised and a hasty reaction to my reflections on June 12. I will therefore seek the indulgence of the readers of this thought on whatever errors contained therein.
12th June, 1993, known today as June 12, is no doubt an epoch in the annals of this nation. It is an understatement to say it is a watershed. June 12 was the day when mediocrity was jettisioned for meritocracy in this nation. It was the day brilliance and intelligence were duly celebrated and hoisted aloft. It was the day genuine philanthropy was given a due place. More importantly, it was the day ethnicity and religion, the two evils in our electoral system, were thrown into a forgotten ocean. It was a memorable day to behold forever.
MKO Abiola, a very brilliant and philanthropic personality, whose mandate given to him by the people of this nation and annulled by the Babangida regime symbolised a raw courage, resilience in the struggle for social justice and a metamorphosis to representing the yearnings of the flotsam and jetsam and the downtrodden of our society. Abiola who as a member of the aristocracy could never have thought to be a champion of farewell to poverty and a struggle to liberate the people to the point of his death. It was really unimaginable. He caused a great division in the house of the ruling class and led the common people to achieve a liberation – a case of a lion leading the sheep. And before our very eyes, the ruling class house collapsed like a pack of cards. Though it was really a tough battle that had scores of deaths at its trails.
Thank God some of us are still alive to witness June 12 being made a democracy day in this country. In those days, we were constantly at the barricade for the actualisation of the mandate given to Chief MKO Abiola as a result of June 12 election, which remains till date the fairest and freest election held in the history of Nigeria. Part of my joy is that I was not a mere witness to it but an active participant in the struggle to actualise it.
It was an epoch when no government’s infractions or unjust policy was taken without questioning or showdown with the people. Of course we confronted armoured tanks and live bullets; it was a period where you expected no compensation except the expectation that this society must be better – Nigeria must be part of the democratic world. We were so sincere that we never hesitated for once to challenge a totally militarised system. There can never be an action without a reaction; the military supremacy then attacked like a lion hunting in fury. Many of us fell to a hail of bullets, many were imprisoned. I was particularly expelled from school, declared wanted for months and eventually arrested. In essence, some of us who are alive are just enjoying the grace God has bestowed on us.
One of the core achievements of June 12 pro-democracy struggle was that military government was chased out, which ushered in the current “democracy” operating in the country. Democracy in invited comas because what is existing is really not democratic in the sense of it. And it is better referred a Civil Rule than democracy. Apart from the fact that we hold election at the end of every term of an office, people are not given the free will to make their choice. One way or the other, their choices are mostly imposed on them. And the experience has been heavily monetised that it is dificult for a non-money bag to win an election. And it has been turned a system of godfathers who have empowered thugs and other agents of destruction rather than empowering teaming population of graduates who are being churned out every year. The reason that today, insecurity is prevalent and has been the dominant threat honding the whole country into submission and making us all vulnerable to a monster we could avoid by good leadership.
If our democracy is depressing, what is more dishartening is some fire-eating revolutionaries who have found themselves in the corridors of power in the current dispensation and have even perpetrated evils than what we fought against during the military eras. This has created inertia in somebody like me that I am still confused as regards what to do. These former pro-democracy activists could look you in the face today and defend fraud-ridden elections and defend economic injustices against people. They are those who have even monetised June 12 celebration now. They cannot go out for procession without collecting stipends.
That June 12 is recognised as a democracy day today is a phenomenon worth celebrating. I cannot but smile at times when I remember how Babangida, the architect of the annulment of June 12 election, and his cotravellers like Obasanjo, declaring June 12 dead. Obasanjo actually made all the efforts to obliterate our knowledge of June 12 by declaring May 29 a democracy day. But to the glory of Almighty God, in their lifetime, June 12 has been imortalised.
One should not however overlook the quarter that made this a reality. It was an unexpected quarter. Buhari could not have been thought to be the one to achieve declaring June 12 a democracy day let alone conferring the highest honour on MKO Abiola, the winner of June 12. Buhari was a major character in the government of the lunatic called Abacha in the days he was holding forth like a Leviathan. Of course, Buhari would be one of those strategizing in major decisions to crush or liquidate prodemocracy activists. He could have been one of the major influences to the death of MKO Abiola in a conspiratorial collaboration with the members of the international community – the death was to equalise with the death of Abacha.
Buhari was no doubt an arch hater of Abiola. And he had every reason to hold so. From the grapevine, it is being said that Abiola sponsored Babangida’s coup that ousted Buhari from power in 1985. There has been no contrary position to this till date, which has strengthened that perception. Babangida was a best friend to Abiola, by inference, Buhari was his worst enemy. The best friend of Abiola annulled the people’s mandate of Abiola while his worst enemy posthumously recognised the mandate and conferred on him the highest honour in the land. Who says there is no Providence in the affairs of man?
However, as we are remembering June 12 today (and will still continue to remember it), what I will just implore us all is that we must at every step we take in life make positive impact in the life of others. Because that was the bulwark that Abiola relied upon in the lowest period of his life.
I will one day, may be before the next democracy day celebration, pen down fully my reflections on June 12.
I wish us all Happy Democracy Day. Thanks.
I am Johnson Amusan, Action J.
Johnson Amusan is a lawyer, former students’ leader and social commentator. He writes from Lagos.
The opinions expressed in this article are entirely that of the writer and does not in anyway reflects that of the CityMirrorNews.
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