June 12: Genesis of a failing Nigeria

When the date June 12 comes up, the first thing that comes to mind for many is the annulled election that was held on that date and supposedly won by the late Chief Moshood, Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. It was regarded as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country but it certainly didn't seem so for the Government of the day. 

Quick history on events of that time. The second republic was disrupted by a military couple in 1983. The new head of state General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), which ousted the General Burahi regime in 1985 introduced a proposed switch over back to civilian rule and set October 1990 as the time. He went on to establish an electoral body, National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Political Bureau to proffer ways on how to successful return to civilian rule. Due to the Bureau's report in 1987 about the need to breach ethnic diversity, The Head of State subsequently shifted the hand over date to 1992 and banned all politicians of the second republic from participating in the election. But in 1989, he lifted the ban on political parties and various parties were submitted to NEC who cleared only six parties and disregarded the rest on basis of poor funding and structure. NEC submitted the parties to IBB who in turn disregarded the parties on basis of ethnic and regions segregations rigged with fractions. He then established two parties, National Republican Convention (NRC) with the right leaning politics and Social Democratic Party (SDP) with the left leaning politics in December 1989. Also at this moment the government had moved the handover date to January 1993 and later to August 1993.

In this time frame, the Babangida government had foiled two previous coups. The government had huge hands in the business of the political parties, providing funds, office spaces, manifestoes and even constitutions. Election were held for local government were held in 1987 and 1991 while state government and house of assembly elections were held in 1991 and 1992, all this was as a result of the creation of more states and local government. August and September of 1992 saw the holding of the two Parties primaries but was nullified by the Head of state on grounds of electoral fraud and therefore banned contestants of the primaries which included ex Head of State General Obasanjo rtd.

IBB subsequently adopted a new system which saw the appointment of MKO Abiola for the SDP and Bashir Tofa for the NRC. The election was held on June 12 1993 and despite the low turnout of just 35% because of fear of violence the election was deemed free and fair by both local and foreign observers. The counting of the vote showed the Abiola win by 58% and 4.3 million votes out of a possible 6.6 million votes counted. 

The announcement of the winner was stopped by a court order on 15 June but the final vote was leaked out on the 18th June and showed MKO Abiola win 19 out of 30 states. Again this didn’t sit well with the Head of State has he annulled the election on the 24th June 1993. This led to violent protests and riots around the nation and saw over 100 people killed. Foreign bodies such as the US, UK and other European bodies condemned the act and subsequently cut ties with Nigeria government who was unmoved by this accusing foreign bodies of meddling with the election. Furthermore, media houses were shut down and journalists arrested. In the bid to uphold the handover date, the military government handed over to an interim government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan who set a new date in February 1994 but his tenure was ended by another coup headed by his Defense minister General Sani Abacha in November 1993. 

The new Head of State dissolved all political activities, parties, The Legislature. He also removed all state and local government and replaced them with military personnel. Abiola was arrested in June 1994 after he declared in president and commander-in-chief. This led to another round of protests and riots across the country, the Labour system was also held to a standstill because of the strikes in petroleum, banking and other sectors for over nine weeks. After surviving another coup and tried the penetrators with initial death and life sentences but later reduced after foreign intervention. 

Abacha set a new date for handover to civilian rule in the next three years but died soon after on the 8th June 1998. While Abiola died a month after on the 7th of July 1998 while in detention.

The Late MKO Abiola was seen as a hero of democracy in Nigeria a man who stood for what he believed in.

Recently, a top US official said its was time we declared Nigeria a failed state. So the issue is have we gone wrong as a nation. From the dwindling economy to the forever increasing insecurity issues, the high rate of unemployment and the increasing differences between the rich and the poor. Since the civil war which was 1966 to 1970, despite the end of the war, there has been this lingering division among the ethnic groups in the country. But in the recent years, the talks of division has increased now not just in the East agitating for the Biafra nation but now talks in the South agitating for their own Yoruba Nation. Recently, the President of the country, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari was taunted for his tweet on popular social media platform Twitter, where he was perceived to have threatened the youths of the country and stating that he would treat the them way they treated people during the civil war from 1966 to 1970.

This statement was received with anger from Nigerians and was subsequently deleted by the social media body. The Presidency was angry at this and called it an insult to the President, furthermore they directed that Twitter be banned in the country. This is also continuation of the bad blood between the Nigerian Government and twitter owner Jack Dorsey who had supported the #endsars protest in the country. But Nigerians have suspectedly found other ways to remain active on the platform because it served as a huge way shed light on the issues of rocking the country. And a major part of this issues is the insecurity in the Eastern, Southern and the seemingly never ending Northern parts. Even Armed forces of the nation has been rubbed in this issues especially in the East, bandits in the South and terrorists groups in the North. People have also called for the resignation of the President that he has failed the country and dwindled the economy tremendously.  Therefore, people have been restricted in their movement as the fear of insecurity increases significantly. In recent interview, the President has downplayed any plans of war but has warned to prosecute anyone caught fringing the law of the country.

There were reports recently of a change of country name from Nigeria to the United African Republic [UAR]. But this hasn’t sat well with Nigerians who feel this won’t solve the country problems. The increases in Fuel pump prices, the international debts and other issues.

Nigerians too are not left out in the development of the country, as we as citizens for the country need to unite, see ourselves as brothers and sisters of a great nation. Scores of people complain about the present government but they never come out to vote and chose the candidates of their choices. We should not sell our votes or engage in rigging of election and snatching of ballot boxes. The government too has a lot to do to help the country, to enroll youths in the helm of the country decisions. Also the equality between the male and female genders should be strengthen, this country could be great but without the help of you and I, it won’t be. But another question we should ask ourselves is that are we doing enough to help the country and is dividing the country the solution? Let's hear your opinion on this. Stay tuned to ritrend.com for more on the country's development.   

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