The Pedagogy Of June 12, 1993 Election

I love this very liberating and ideological title which I’d rephrased from one of the books of an eloquent and articulate scholar, in the person of the late Brazilian, Professor Paulo Freire. I recommend the book, The Pedagogy Of the Oppressed {1996} to students of social sciences and to others of whatever persuasion. The word, pedagogy, does not really sound onomatopoeic. It simply means: “the science and profession of teaching”. I therefore own the phrased title of this article to the Professor. The other compelling read of his is: “Education For Critical Consciousness”{2005}. These two books will ‘shine’ your eyes.

However, since Prof. Nwosu released the result of the June 12, 1993, whilst launching his book, what has happened and what have we learnt from that episode and those events? What were the teachings and lessons of that unfortunate historical annulment? Is June 12 now like an apparition to most Nigerians? Should the country be trotting along as if nothing really happened? Are there institutional measures which have been put in place to avoid such criminal acts from repeating itself? Knowing the perfidy of the ruling elites, are we really sure that the electoral reform panel will bring out the panacea to electoral frauds?

These and many more questions are craving for answers in our Luggardist Nigeria. It is unfortunate that the quest for justice has petered out. Dead as dodo.Yesterday, it was Chief MKO Abiola, tomorrow, it could be Asari Dokobu, Pat Utomi or even the perspicacious free flow writer-Shoko Loko Bangoshe. As the 2011 election draws nearer and nearer, it is the responsibility of every Nigerian to stand up now and say loud and clear that the charade of 2007 should never repeat itself in 2011. Enough of this day light brigandage! Enough of these impetuous ‘Jibiti’ and ‘korokoro’ {I love these two Nigerian words} electoral robbery.

Besides, it is “Not yet Uhuruala Kenneth Kaunda until we are able to conduct free and fair elections even if they are as reasonably decent as that of Zimbabwe. It is not yet freedom until the people can choose who they want and not who a few parasitic individuals want. It is not “uhuru” until the generality of Nigerians can easily have access to basic necessities of life and free themselves from their thralls. And one of the basic and very simple ways of doing just that is through a free and fair electoral process.

The press too should sit up and take a more critical and committed stand against committed riggers of elections. Like electricity supply, which now appears like a jinx to all governments, conducting a free and fair election should not be added to that jinx. The generality of Nigerians who have been acting responsibly should be ready to act irresponsibly in 2011. Citizens should have the gumption to say: “never again”. The masses should be prepared to buy foodstuffs that should last them for at least one month, preparatory for a long and sustained battle against day light electoral robberies.

We must be allowed to choose our own leaders. Enough is enough! Opposition political parties should take confrontational and threatening stand now, preparatory to 2011 by collectively sending a clear signal to government that they are not ready to partake in any elections if adequate checks are not in place to forestall what happened in 2007.

I have only voted twice in elections in Nigeria, namely, for retired Col. Ogbemudia as the then NPN gubernatorial candidate for Bendel State in 1983, and for Chief MKO Abiola, on June 12, 1993. Although, I wouldn’t have voted in 1983 because of Shagari’s abysmal performance and the NPN arrogant posturing, I only did because of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia‘s entrance into the race. That man was a fantastic performer.

His record in former Bendel state, now Delta and Edo have not been surpassed by any of the present despotic leaders despite the suifeit of funds at their disposal, namely, James Ibori, Lucky Igbenedion, Uduaghan, and Professor Osunbor. They are a bunch of disgrace. If they have any academic qualifications, I advise they throw their certificates into river Owena. Uduaghan only embarked on some appeasement projects in Delta Igbo area because of the threat posed by Peter Okocha’s legal challenge about the conduct of that election in Delta State.

Other elections in Nigeria however, have always been mired by rigging, acts of thuggery, ballot stuffing in hide outs, snatching of ballot boxes, double and multiple voting, collusion by the STATE in installing candidates of its choice, killing, arson and political assassinations. After June 12, 1993 election and the death of Abacha, his successor, General Abdusalami Abubarkar and his military colleagues selected and wanted OBJ to win by all means.

They abandoned the excellent electoral system used in 1993{Option A4} and embraced our usual ‘kill-and-go’ electoral system. And the apparent choice of OBJ was to appease the west, not the generality of Nigerians, on the annulment of that election as if it was a Yoruba affair. By their choice of OBJ, the ruling elites in the North wrongly perceived that annulment as a wrong done to the Yorubas and not to the generality of Nigerians. In 1999, whilst still in Nigeria, I refused to go out and vote. If the Nigerian STATE has no integrity to protect and preserve, I have.

Of course, if all Nigerians refuse to go out and vote, elections will go on anyway and the ruling cabal will still go on to impose their candidates through their rigging machinery. But I am not “all Nigerians”. I am myself. In Nigeria, turn out of voters does not matter because that can easily be manipulated. We saw a dubious good example in the 2007 elections where scores were allocated and plotted into result sheets like graph and announced by INEC with impunity.

I have actually done about five experiential write ups on June 12 and quite recently, a friend called to ask why I am stressing myself out about June 12 and Abiola ; that I should bury that phase in our chequered history. I cannot but slow down a bit. But I will be quick to add here, that every human being likes what is good. If any future electoral process surpasses the achievement of option A4, I will abandon the option and embrace the new one.

But for now, none has surpassed it. I love option A4 because it produced a marvellous election. The option, ably anchored by Prof. Nwosu and his team, was the pinnacle of IBB’s performance and I wish the regime had sustained the momentum. Unfortunately the glowing glory and credit of that election was buried by the same regime that incubated and gave birth to it.

I love June 12 because that was the day Nigerians showcased to the world that they are united irrespective of religion, region, ethnic and tribal differences. It beamed to the world that in the midst of religious bigotry and media hype on Christian/Moslem tension, two Moslems, Abiola and Kingibe, ran under the SDP tickets with little or no squeamish.

Nigerians did not look at the fact that they were both Moslems to cast their votes. No! They focussed critically on the manifestoes and promises of Abiola and the SDP; they fixed their gaze on his ideological shift and pinned their hopes longingly on his powerful message of “GOOD BYE TO POVERTY”. Above all, they finally sent a message across to their oppressors by overwhelmingly voting for him. The oppressed voters, who had literally gone to hell and came back unscathed because of the devastating impact of IBB’s SAP, had chorused in unison : “we think and believed that this is the expected messiah who will wipe our tears and drown our sorrows.”

Again, contrary to the fallacy in some quarters that the progressives in Nigeria can never be united to win an election, the two party system and Option A4 made it possible for them to get united and to choose a member of the conservative class as their presidential flag bearer. They won the election in a free and fair contest but were criminally denied their sweet victory.

The important question then arises: do the progressives still have the wherewithal to pull the same electoral punch? Can they still pull a chestnut out of a blazing fire without getting their fingers burnt? If the answer is in the affirmative, then the next poser is: are there now established institutional safe guards that have been put in place to make sure that such an annulment never repeat itself? Have we learnt from that history? The guess of everyone is as good as mine. This is notwithstanding the recommendations of the electoral panel.

I love option A4 and June 12 because it brought to the fore ones more, the realism in the academic and intellectual circles that in most bourgeois democracies, as different from popular democracies, the bourgeoisies will never hand over power to the progressives on a platter of gold. They have to really struggle for it even if it means getting committed to armed struggle. If tomorrow, the American Socialist Party shows any sign of winning the presidential elections, only God knows what will happen at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall street. Perhaps, the Stock exchange would move to China or Japan!

Besides, if that election result was upheld and IBB had handed over to Chief MKO Abiola, the same IBB would have come back to rule Nigeria again with effortless ease. SAP or no SAP, Nigerians forgive easily. That same option A4 would have brought him back to continue with perhaps the sound economic imprint Chief Abiola would have presumably left behind on the sands of time.

The June 12, 1993 presidential election, was a veritable milestone and watershed in Nigeria’s awkward history. It would have propelled Nigeria forward economically. We would have been ahead of Ghana. The solid foundation laid by Jerry Rawlings in Ghana was later propelled forward by Koffi Annan’s performance at the UN as a former Secretary-General. Today, foreign investment into Ghana has become awesome. Oh God, the annulment of June 12 was the greatest disservice to Nigeria.

It was a master class of a coup. It was a coup against all coups. And contrary to Senator John Shagaya’s diversionary submission that June 12, {see Leadership newspaper of 24 June 2008} was not worst than January 15, 1966 when some young Majors simply woke up and started killing senior officers of Northern extraction and their civilian counter parts. I posit to Shagaya just like others have countered: If June 12 is not worst than January 15, 1966 coup, how then does it compare or fare with the counter-coup of 29 July 1966?

I submit however without going into details of argument that the annulment of June 12 was worst than both coups. The world was shocked by the fact that an African country could produce such an election devoid of any scissor-and-paste input from the Western models. It was a marvellous election. I couldn’t but wait to see a performance that would better that record. I like Option A4 and I love June 12.

In Edwin Madunagu’s: A Reading Of Nwosu’s Book in the Guardian of September 04, 2008, there was this food for thought which seemed to be gaining currency on the reasons for the annulment. Edwin, in his brief analysis of the book culled and quotes rtd Col. Abubarkar Dangiwa Umar on the annulment thus: “due to the machinations of some of the most heinous and selfish military officers and their civilian conspirators; those professor now correctly identifies as political opportunists masquerading as gentlemen officers and patriots. They fabricated and presented false security reports which where effectively used to intimidate and prevent their Commander-in-Chief from doing what was just right”.

Again, let me posit these questions for the umpteenth time: which fabricated security reports are these people bandying about? Was it the one provided by the USA or who? For God sake most of us were in the country during and after that election, and all the candidates were vetted and cleared by all the relevant security agencies before they embarked on their campaign trail. So, which spurious and skewed security report are these people parading about and why should IBB, as intelligent as he is, accept such if indeed, they were fabricated security reports?

Are we talking of a highly flawed security report that is similar in international scope and damage to the one on Iraq none-existing weapons of mass destruction? Could Umar tell us more on how IBB was really held hostage? Where there any point then in the National Defence council’s meetings, at which guns were held to IBB’s head and told by a few: “Kai, Aboki, walahi talahi, if you don’t do our bidding, we will blow your head off”? Retired Col. Abubarkar Umar should open the can of worms now, to enable Nigerians plan and move ahead because as far as some of us progressives are concerned, there is no guarantee that that annulment will not repeat again.

Like I had earlier said, I have only voted twice in Nigeria and those where in 1983, for Rtd Col. Ogbomudia’s gubernatorial race for the then Bendel State, under the NPN; and, Chief Abiola on June 12, 1993. And since that June 12 election was annulled, I had stopped wasting my precious votes. I had never and will never go out of my way to cast a vote where I glaringly know that that election is not going to be free and fair. My vote is a very precious commodity to me. I cannot afford to waste it and I thank God I have never wasted it. I am a practicing Christian, a very decent man with principles, integrity and respect for others, tolerant of both diversity of views and people’s crazy idiosyncrasies.

With just my few years abroad, I have, unlike some Nigerians who have lived in the UK for decades, been able to sift and internalised some good western values and norms which I think will not be detrimental to most of my cherished Nigerian culture. I am also incorruptible. For now, my sympathy in Nigeria’s politics lies with the National Conscience Party {NCP} of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the firebrand.

My word is my bond. I do not partake in practices I see and discern to be evil just because everyone is assumed to be doing it. No! I don’t subscribe to such thesis, which is what has made corruption in Nigeria look perverse, hydra headed and seemingly incurable. What ever I choose to do, I do because I know it will help to lift humanity. I want to try my best to leave this world better than I have met it; to try as much as possible to stand by the truth and to speak and write the truth. These, among others, are part of my philosophy of life which I have chosen to live and die for. I don’t care if – in the process – I am a lone ranger. I rest my case!

Written by
Ephraim Adinlofu
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  • Those who have ears let them hear now. The trumpet has sounded. The earlier the better. We do not want the election charade of 2007 to repeat itself in 2011.