Late Tofa and Shonekan as Unsung Footnotes of June 12 1993!

by Yahaya Balogun
Moshood Abiola

“When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” — Calpurnia in Julius Caesar.

What will you be remembered for when you eventually kick the bucket? What will be your place in history when historians write Nigerian history? These are pertinent questions that may be unanswerable to those with awareness, possession of a consciousness of guilt, and soiled conscience in the affairs of humanity, nay Nigeria. The collective hypocrisy of our leaders and the led is one of the burdens of conscience and history facing all Nigerians. You can eulogize the political beggars and enablers that brought Nigeria to her knees all you want, but their antecedents remain the burden of their twilight years and thereafter. Unfortunately, Nigeria has many people who swim in the pool of mediocrity with calm indifference to meritocracy.

With awful nostalgia, when Bashir Tofa and Ernest Shonekan, the two enablers and contemptible footnotes of the June 12, 1993, presidential election debacle, died recently, there was a deafening silence in the consciousness of the protagonists and antagonists of the” June 12″ and all Nigerians who are not in a state of amnesia. “When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” Calpurnia in Julius Caesar. History is bunk! History is sometimes christened as an ass because it doesn’t respect anyone, place, or thing. History is known to defecate unpleasant justice to those who have contravened the moral and ethical norms that guide every normal society. In an attempt to distort history, Nigerian cultural nuances are quick to eschew the pernicious antecedents and actions of the dead. Those (dead or alive) who have contributed diabolically and grotesquely, in one way or another, to Nigeria’s political, socio-cultural, and economic woes have a date with history.

However, Nigerian politicians and militricians have always had premeditated political agendas. Mourningly, they had perfected the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election before the election even took place. The contrived covert agents of June 12 were late Alhaji Bashir Tofa and Chief Ernest Shonekan.

In a nutshell, Alhaji Bashir Tofa was politically unearthed from ‘nowheresville’ to the political limelight. But, unashamedly, Alhaji Bashir Tofa fizzled out to obscurity after being used and dumped as the flagbearer of the National Republican Convention-NRC and the Military junta. Tofa was the National Republican Convention-NRC candidate in the annulled Nigeria’s June 12, 1993, presidential election, organized by the military-president (militrician) government of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

Late Chief Ernest Shonekan, on the other hand, was used as a rueful interim buffer to deny the late Chief MKO Abiola the victory of his mandate from the Nigerian people. Regrettably, the Egba man (Sonekan) was used by the militricians to permanently punctuate another victorious Egba man (MKO Abiola) the June 12, 1993 mandate. Late Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan GCFR (May 9, 1936–January 11, 2022) was a Nigerian lawyer and statesman who served as the interim Head of State of Nigeria from August 26, 1993, to November 17, 1993. Late Chief Ernest Shonekan had a remarkable achievement in the private sector as the Chairman of the blue-chip company. Before his contentious political career, according to Wikipedia, Shonekan was the Chairman and chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria (successor of The Niger Company), a vast Nigerian conglomerate, which, at the time, was the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sadly, with superstitious beliefs, in an attempt to distort historical moments, Nigerian cultures are quick to eschew the pernicious antecedents and actions of those (dead or alive) who have contributed grotesquely, in one way or other, to the political, socio-cultural, and economic woes of Nigeria. The presidential election on June 12, 1993, was a watershed in the anal history of Nigeria. It was a day all Nigerians eligible and ineligible voters, ethnic and religious chauvinists, students, artisans, etc., came together to give a rebirth to a nation in distress–an orchestrated problem caused by its unrepentant citizens.

Moreover, with our collective mental grief, Nigeria as a contraption entity continues to harbor its unrepentant citizens hollowed in a chamber of the communal hypothesis of hypocrisy. Those who have overtly and covertly participated in helping corrupt leaders have tried to reduce Nigeria to a pariah state will not go without their days of reckoning with karma and providence.

With nostalgia, June 12, 1993, a peaceful day, Nigeria conducted a free and fair election never witnessed in any sphere or confluence of Africa. But, awfully, June 12, with the help of Tofa, Shonekan, and their co-travelers and enablers, was the day Nigeria lost the opportunity to breakthrough and registered its name among the comity of developed nations in the world.

Superstitiously, “do not speak ills or evils of the dead” is the deceitful and ignorant mantra of the African culture. Whereas, while the dead were alive, their gratification and misconducts advertently affected, and with multiplier effects, cost the lives of the hapless citizens. Ruefully, Late Alhaji Tofa and Chief Shonekan remained the unsung footnotes of June 12. When these political beggars died recently, there were no signs of their unsung death in the minds of the deprived and dehumanized Nigerians.

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