June 12 Commemoration: Mere Fanciful Theatrics? -By Israel Dara Sobaloju

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |


The insanities of Karma, and the phlegmatic behaviour of the gods guarding individuals sojourn on earth as resulted in unequal distribution of power, resources and fame. Just 24 years after the death of Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola which resulted from his will and behest to get back his mandate given to him in an election regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria. But day by day, the history of the day many as regarded as notable and purported democracy day (instead of May 29) is vanishing from history books without us paying cognisance to it, that a child born in the next decade may want to ask “who’s MKO?” This may not be farfetched, drawing the hands of time back. In the concluding part of Goodluck Jonathan’s (Nigeria’s erstwhile president) democracy day speech, he announced the change in name of University of Lagos to immortalize MKO – a decision that was greeted by weeks of protest from both lecturers and students of the university.

It is sad to see that even after many years people still need the autopsy of his death either to maim the killer or justify his mandate. Many of us are so allergic to the truth that we sometimes develop some adaptive features to swallow up anything that go against our primitive thoughts and conceptions, religious sentiments, lazy illusions and heretic tales with every indignation of benightedness to disprove the validity of the subject matter. Whereas the truth always remains valid no matter the heaviness of stampede that befalls it. In 1993, Nigerians as a people were tired of the autocratic military rule, they were tired of the forceful marriage, and wanted to taste the result of self-will, but was collared away from them as Ibrahim Babangida declares the election invalid eventhough it was won and loss.

On June 11, at Epetedo, MKO Abiola addressing a large crowd said “People of Nigeria, exactly one year ago, you turned out in your millions to vote for me, Chief MKO Abiola as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But politicians in uniform, who call themselves soldiers but are more devious than any civilian would want to be, deprived you of your God-given right to be ruled by the President you had yourselves elected….. I saw enough is enough” This led to his arrest as Babangida sent hundreds of soldiers to bring him down to his feet with the charge of treason. He refused to be released even when granted the privilege, all he needed was his people’s given mandate. The commemoration of this day is not well defined by us – Nigerians, are we celebrating Abiola, democracy survival from the rape action of our military men or the martyrs of the democracy we enjoy today. Presently, June 12 is no longer a notable day in Nigeria calendar since the exit of Olusegun Obasanjo from power as only Southwestern state government declare public holidays for their workers. If the trend continues June 12 may be lost in Nigeria’s history book.

The psychological amnesia experienced in the other parts of Nigeria may soon be contracted by the southwesterners, and the day may be lost in the web of history. Our pseudo-intellectuals and intellectuals alike are very busy playing the gladiatorial shows of mutual tribal vilipends, ethnic and religious absurdity instead of marshaling their intellectual resources against the retrogressive forces that has tied Nigeria to the pillars of poverty and decay. Our political elites now see the day as a game which they can express their professorship in ignorance and employ the internet to express their parochial interest. They come out to boost of their allegiance to the nation’s development, camouflaging as a Messiah, but all that is needed to open the veil and put their face outside the mask is a valued paper or political appointment and portfolio, then they rant and suddenly encapsulate their momentary allegiance which needs resuscitation in an oxygen room. Thus pseudo-patriot vuvuzelas do not only leave our heart broken, they also want to see our land relinquished. Personal gains, destructive opinions and archaic beliefs are all they have to render to a bashed and malnutrited nation who had always given birth to stillbirth patriot like Musa Yar’adua.

Why celebrate a day that had been highjacked to the habitation of the wicked by drunken corrupt personnels turning Nigeria to a nest of killers, den of corruption, an amorphous mass of seething discontented sectionalisms, pitch of human rights play. June 12 as become a sounding board for dubious politicians with carriers of cockroach-like mentality believing their the lion of the game. MKO Abiola may never get justice to the course he fought for in the last days of his life despite the yearly reawakening of the sleeping history as the significance of the day had been lost in the tides of the political monsieur.

Commemorating this day, despite our monumental miscarriages is not because we are concerned primarily about the neuroticism of justice. We are concerned about the personality, whom injustice was inflicted upon. Nigerians have grown not to care about principles but about personalities. We celebrate just the public figures who died in the four walls of the office not minding the soldier killed in sambisa forest in his bid to defend his father’s land. One may want to pray not to give birth on a rich man’s birthday as the serene of his car may overshadow the cry of her baby. In Nigeria, on a poor man’s weeding day, the drummer may forget his drumming sticks on the bellows but will offer to play in a rich man’s burial for free. That’s the sarcophagus state we are in Nigeria if we’ll admit it. I guess why June 12 has focused on Abiola is because the death of beggars invites no comets. Many Nigerians died due to Abiola’s Epetedo declaration, many houses burnt, many were lynched alive. When a poor man’s son dies the Dog bark and the bird tweet, But when celebrities and princes (which the poor – Nigerian admire so much) sneeze; gravity itself pulls galaxies off the sky, to prostrate and fall over themselves in obsequious advertisement of vainglorious affectations in solidarity with a member of the calibre of the elite who had a fever; even if he be a dishonorable rogue.

Many heroes have gone unnoticed, as the poor man King Solomon described in one of his books – Escletiates, who saved his country from doom but was forgotten thereafter because of his poverty. Many people died during the fight for Abiola’s mandate – including his wife – Kudirat Abiola. Many journalists were lost in between fries of upending bullet shots with several others disfigured. If we then talk about justice and commemoration of the dead, every calendar day will be filled with something to celebrate. Social Justice was in the first place crucified by out ostentatious political leaders, if not, Where is justice for the school children, who on their way to join their parents for holiday have to die in a Sosoliso plane crash in Port Harcourt? with our airlines officials parading coffins like Dana air crash on our airways. Where’s justice or commemoration for the Chibok school girls kidnapped over 3 years ago. Maybe April 14 should also be a public holiday, then we’ll have to sleep in the confines of our rooms for life.

In the 80s an advertorial championed by Chike Ubaka on NTA Enugu has this warnings to road users “Dead men have no right of way,

Why must you throw your life away?

Drive with care,

For life is dear!” If we’re to engage all the days of our existence to mourn the dead, we’ll have no one to live. Even Jesus Christ – the most generous personality earth ever witness said “let the dead bury their dead.” June 12 has no significance if a politician can still sit down to embezzle our money diligently. M.K.O Abiola is worth celebrating, so do everyone who loose their life fighting for due course. June 12 commemoration should not be about Abiola but about taking our Nation to the level envisaged by him – a poverty free nation. What we need to focus on now is Nigeria’s unity and pride, not allowing the cloud of uncertainty to bedevil us. We need to build a nation where everyone has a sense purpose not a nation that hype the minor work of the rich than the poor.

God Bless Nigeria

Israel Dara Sobaloju is a Journalist, Public Affairs Analyst, curator of ScholarZine Ng and student of Obafemi Awolowo University reach him on 07037954874