Former Lagos State Governor and All Progressives Congress national stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has underscored the importance of the June 12, 1993 election and the agitation that followed its annulment, saying June 12 is the precursor of the democracy we now enjoy in the country.
In a statement on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of June 12 released by his Media Office on Sunday night in Lagos, Asiwaju Tinubu poured encomiums on the late Chief MKO Abiola.
He described him as an embodiment of “the eternal Yoruba adage, which says that death is better with honour than life without dignity”.
In the statement, entitled: “What June 12 Taught Us,” Asiwaju Tinubu said: “The blood of those who gave their yesterday and sacrificed even their lives for the democracy and freedom we enjoy today was not shed in vain. The truth is June 12 is the mother of May 29th. Without the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12 election, there would most probably be no 4th Republic today and we would still be groaning under the jackboots of military dictatorship.
“The annulment was a bitter pill to swallow especially for the millions of people who expended so much time, energy and material resources to help ensure victory for Chief MKO Abiola. The late MKO selflessly committed so much of his substantial fortune towards ensuring his victory at the polls. In doing this, he was not motivated by personal, selfish or pecuniary considerations.
“Abiola could have chosen to abandon the mandate in order to rebuild and resuscitate his disrupted business. But he opted for the path of the true ‘Omoluabi’. He refused to sacrifice honour for an ephemeral mess of pottage. He was an embodiment of the eternal Yoruba adage, which says that death is better with honour than life without dignity.
“Looking back, we can say, thank you Chief MKO Abiola for giving your all that we may bask in the glow of democracy today. The annulment was meant to halt the unstoppable and irresistible march to deeper democratic practice in Nigeria. That objective failed woefully. The annulment was a challenge that precipitated a concerted response, which helped to promote the cause of democracy in Nigeria contrary to the will of its anti-democratic perpetrators. That annulled free and fair election taught us, once again, to organize. It tutored us new tactics and strategies of confronting, undermining and ultimately overcoming seemingly impregnable forces and fortresses of dictatorship and oppression.
“It revealed to us the imperative of forging working relationships and diverse networks across ethnic, religious, regional and partisan divides if we were to move forward.
“It is this invaluable experience we gathered in the struggle to enthrone democracy and retrieve our country from the iron grip of dictatorship that emboldens us today to warn those directly or indirectly threatening our democracy through another military intervention to perish the idea. Just as happened in the past, those who stand on the path of truth and higher moral values will always triumph over those whose strength derive from the barrels of the gun.
“Twenty-four years after its annulment, the spirit of June 12 lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians. The lessons of that election still speak eloquently to us today despite the utter lack of vision and imagination in governance between 1999 and 2015 that has fuelled the revival of separatist agitations and deepened distrust among the component parts of Nigeria.
“One enduring truth that June 12 demonstrated is that given inspirational, visionary and sincere leadership, Nigerians can rise above divisive primordial sentiments to demonstrate high patriotism and a belief in merit in their voting patterns.
“Thus, Chief MKO Abiola won a pan-Nigerian mandate in that poll garnering considerable votes across the various zones of the country and even beating his opponent in the latter’s Kano State home base. Again, despite having a fellow Muslim, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, as his running mate, the duo won handsomely even in wholly-Christian dominated parts of the country. All these show that it is really the elite most times that deliberately instigate the politics of distrust, fear, suspicion and divisiveness; they are the ones that all too often exploit our differences to destabilize the polity for their own selfish interests.
“This year’s commemoration of the anniversary of June 12 coincides roughly with two years in office of the All Progressives Congress at the federal level. Some critics particularly of the opposition are already writing off the government as a failure. Well, that is their prerogative and in accordance with their rights in a democratic polity. But the vast majority of Nigerians are neither stupid nor lacking in political sophistication. They are aware of the immense mess inherited by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Of course, the APC administration has not simply sat back lamenting the crippled economy it inherited from the previous government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which earned unprecedentedly high oil revenues for the most part of its tenure with little or nothing to show for it. Two years into its term, any objective analyst will agree that the APC has already taken impressive strides to clear the Augean stables it inherited from the past administration. Concrete gains are being made in curtailing corruption, reviving and diversifying the economy and strengthening national security even though much harder work still lie ahead admittedly.
“There is no doubt that once the APC Federal Government successfully contains these challenges, and we are gradually turning the corner with light discernible at the end of the tunnel, it can more urgently and firmly begin to address other planks of its manifesto especially the imperative of strengthening the country’s federal practice.
“But even in our darkest moments, let the torch of democracy be our guide to the higher and nobler plains of good governance, strong institutions, reverence for the rule of law and a continually-improving and growing economy. It is only through strengthening the institutions, practices and procedures of democracy that we, like the Americans, foremost exemplars of the democratic ideal, can ceaselessly strive moment by moment, day by day and year by year to continually aspire towards the more perfect union of our dreams.”
He also used the occasion to appraise the two years of the present administration, saying any objective analyst would agree that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had already taken impressive strides to clear the Augean stables it inherited from the past administration. He said critics labeling the administration a failure was not been objective. “Without the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12 election, there would most probably be no 4th Republic today and we would still be groaning under the jackboots of military dictatorship,”