The Oasis Reporters
June 7, 2018
It is no more difficult to understand why President Muhammadu Buhari has many enemies: he is a very brilliant statesman, whose leadership credentials cannot be questioned. Recognizing and acknowledging June 12 as Democracy Day, naming and honouring MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 presidential election, is a recognition and confirmation of the popular will that has become so resilient since the 1993 Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s encroachment on the soul of our nation. With this singular development, Buhari has once again, demonstrated that he flies high in the vanguard of the clamour for the actualization of democracy in Nigeria.
Perhaps no leader again in Nigeria’s history has listened to the unanimous clamour across the length and breadth of Nigeria for the recognition of Bashorun MKO Abiola as a great national sacrifice, and of June 12 as the foundation of our democracy.
In May 2017, the House of Representatives resolved that Government should posthumously confer on Chief Abiola, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) for his sacrifices to the nation. Sanni Zoro, who moved the motion, is from Jigawa State. A member from Anambra state, Anayo Nnebe joined in the cause, stating that June 12, should be declared as a national holiday to reflect the issues that transpired; it should be seen as a national issue and not a regional one.
Therefore, the age-long demand of the South-West concerning June 12 is a temperament shared by most Nigerians, and to that extent, Buhari has executed the will of the people for the nth time.
President Buhari has played a central and very critical role in the development of democracy in Nigeria. In 1983, he truncated the burgeoning democracy with a coup because he believed the 1983 election was massively rigged. In his first speech as Head of State, he remarked that the political actors in the 2nd Republic circumvented the constitutional rules and principles that had been put in place by the military for the administration of Nigeria, earlier in 1978. The legislature, for him, did not perform their constitutional duties and in short, this disregard for laws of the state led to mismanagement of the economy. More importantly, because the 1983 election was rigged by all parties that participated, Buhari and his coterie decided to end democratic rule.
He reintroduced the coup culture that had been put away in 1979 by then Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, and characterized his own regime with a handful of human rights abuses which are copiously documented by many of those who would later stage another coup on the conscience of the masses on his behalf, prominent among whom is Wole Soyinka, with his coterie in literature, activism and politics.
It is doubtful that issues of electoral malpractices within four years of democratic adventure calls for military intervention in a polity. It was not that bad. What was needed, instead, were internal political dynamics and civil forces such as civil society groups, human rights movements and parliamentary legislation which would emerge and engage the democratic practice toward better elections with free and fair representation. Thus, at a time when the institutions of popular government and democratic representation should be evolving and shaping themselves, Buhari came and scrapped the Parliament alongside the constitution.
In this way, the 1979 achievement and the opportunity for the evolution and development of democracy in Nigeria was scuttled by Major General Muhammadu Buhari and his group. If this historic damage had not been done, Oct 1st, 1999 would have marked two decades of democratic experience, of fall and rise, failure and lessons. Thus, Buhari initiated and inaugurated 20 years of waste in Nigeria’s political and civil development.
Did Buhari’s brash assault on the nation solve the perceived deficits in the baby democracy?
It rather began a memorable period of darkness in Nigeria, having initiated a military culture which was later taken over by Babangida who single-handedly scuttled the collective dream of Nigerians, length and breadth of the country, of having a president elected by them. The General Ibrahim Babangida sacrilege against the sacred conscience of the Nigerian people, the crass capital injustice which MKO Abiola suffered on behalf of the restoration of democracy was a direct legacy of Muhammadu Buhari.
Thus, ten years after Buhari killed a burgeoning democracy (1983-1993), Babangida aborted a promising democratic dispensation. Babangida destroyed a medal that was a reward for the hard work of Nigerians who fought for the reign of the people rather than the reign of terror. This way, the military culture which Buhari’s egotistical, megalomaniac, self-righteous temperament inaugurated, only matured into the reckless and unconscionable urchin who dealt a mischievous blow on the June 1993 progress.
Yet, the full-grown tree of Buhari’s 1983 rashness brought the character of Sani Abacha, in whose regime freedom of speech was repressed and tyranny held sway. That time, people were busy running for their lives. The same regime saw Abiola die in prison.
Buhari participated in this Abacha regime as Chairman of PTF, an organization Abacha created. The Daura ex-General recently flippantly dismissed the atrocities of the regime by citing the projects undertaken by Sani Abacha. The regime is more notorious for the creation of five political parties by Abacha, all of which unanimously opted for a consensus presidential candidate (who was supposed to be Abacha himself). That means Abacha was going to succeed himself as a civilian president of Nigeria. Buhari was in this government; he did not convert to democracy all the while.
There is thus, a very huge luck on Buhari, being the one to have named June 12 a National Day in Nigeria, immortalize the June 12 experience, and to have given a topmost national honour to MKO. It is quite intriguing the way Buhari has been able to successfully place himself in a position to write the narrative of our country in a way that makes him a hero of our destiny.
God must have loved Nigerians that he has made Buhari the High Priest of democracy overnight. God must have sent him! History cannot forget him too quickly.
It does not matter that three years as a reformed democrat, Buhari has flouted court rulings, imprisoned and killed people who asked for self-determination, kept in cell Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky after his followers were killed in Kaduna by Buhari’s soldiers, treated the National Assembly with disdain, condoned killings of defenceless people by herdsmen, performed poorly in governance and economic development, attempted to muffle the media and free expression.
But then, when a masquerade dances well, his guide is encouraged. I think President Buhari has done what other presidents had refused to do. He has massaged the ego of the Yoruba at the very appropriate time. Now, our sworn democrats such as Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi can shout “hurray! We got what we fought for.” That’s what we asked that one from Otuoke to do and he went to go and change our great Akoka to MAULAG. What a derogation! What a regionalization of a federal university, a bastardization of our esteemed alma mater ! Heck! What a regionalization of a national hero in Abiola!
Right now, we have June 12 as a national day, and we still have Akoka, our prestigious University of Lagos. Hurray Buhari! Hurray 2019.
In all honesty, Buhari has done just what no man ever expected. He played the ace this time. In truth, only now did we begin to lay the foundation of our democratic discourse and engagement in the actual struggle of the people; to put a direction, sense and meaning to our purpose and collective action as a country and a people united in struggle. But beside and beyond this, there is no better time than now to shove up the ego of the South-West. With this orgasmic massage on the ribs of Yoruba, Oduduwa himself is on his way to collect his PVC.