The Eternal Echoes of June 12: Nigeria’s Unfinished Symphony

by Jude Obuseh
Moshood Abiola

“We cannot continue to live with the ghosts of our past. We must move forward, but move forward together.” – Nelson Mandela

Tomorrow, June 12, 2024, Nigerians will gather to celebrate Democracy Day, a national holiday heavy with history and hope. It was on June 12, 1993, that our nation witnessed an election like no other—a beacon of possibility, where Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party ( SDP), a Muslim from the South, seemed poised to lead. That moment promised to bridge the divides of ethnicity and religion that had long plagued Nigeria. But this promise was brutally snatched away when the Jackboot regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (aka IBB) annulled the results, extinguishing the dreams of the emergence of a truly democratic and united Nigeria in one swift bloody stroke.

Consequently, June 12 became more than just a date. It morphed into a symbol of a democracy betrayed, igniting years of tireless activism. The struggle to reclaim our nation from the grip of authoritarian rule was long and arduous, eventually leading to the return of civilian governance on May 29, 1999. In 2018, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led civilian government moved Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12, in honour  of the spirit of that fateful day and the resilience of Nigerians who fought for their right to self-determination.

However, as we stand on the threshold of another Democracy Day, we must ask ourselves: Have we truly embraced the ideals that June 12 represents? Corruption continues to weave its insidious web through the fabric of our society, stealing from the mouths of the hungry and the hands of the industrious. The dream of a prosperous Nigeria feels distant, overshadowed by leaders who were once heralded as champions of democracy but now engage in the very vices they once condemned.

Ethnic tensions, like dormant embers, can flare up into raging fires, threatening to consume the fragile peace we hold. These tensions are stoked by political opportunism and the relentless struggle for resources, leaving communities divided and mistrustful. The vision of a united Nigeria, one where every citizen feels a part of the national tapestry, remains elusive.

Social injustice casts a long shadow over our nation. Inequality in wealth, education, and healthcare starkly contrasts with the ideals we celebrate. The chasm between the rich and poor grows wider, and the promise of a just and equitable society is a distant echo for many.

More more painful and frustrating is the fact that some lieutenants of the June 12 struggle have abandoned their advocacy and aligned themselves with the oppressors they once fought against. Once in power, they have contradicted everything they once stood for, becoming even worse than their former adversaries. This has left the people stranded and shocked by the blatant treachery. They have become mere actors in a farcical play where deceit is rewarded and power prevails. The betrayal of the popular will they once championed is deeply upsetting and sickening.

June 12 should be more than a remembrance; it should be a day of profound reflection. We must honour those who sacrificed for our democracy, but we must also confront the reality of how far we still have to go. It is within our power, as citizens, to bridge this gap. Let us recommit ourselves to the principles of June 12—free and fair elections, a unified nation, and a government that truly serves its people. Our voices must rise together, demanding accountability, transparency, and justice from our leaders.

June 12 is not just a celebration; it is a clarion call to action. Together, we can forge the Nigeria we dream of—a Nigeria where democracy is not just an aspiration but a lived reality. As we reflect on the unfulfilled promises of June 12,  let us remember that the power to change our nation lies in our hands.

We must not forget the sacrifices of those who fought for democracy, nor the ideals they championed. Each step we take towards a more transparent, equitable, and just Nigeria is a step towards honoring their legacy. Let June 12 be a reminder that our journey is far from over, and it is up to us to ensure that the symphony of our nation reaches its full crescendo.

Let us rise, united and resolute, to fulfill the promise of June 12. Let our actions speak louder than words, and let our commitment to democracy be unwavering. The future of Nigeria is ours to shape.

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