June 12

There are so many things that we can learn, as a nation, from this historic day.

It’s June 12 again, and we are compelled to remember.

It cannot be denied that the ghost of the 1993 June 12 elections still comes around to haunt us now and again. And every time it does, it demands from us, that which it was denied twenty-four years ago.

The day, June 12, rings a bell. It brings to mind the presidential elections that were held in Nigeria on the twelfth day of June 1993. It was the first since the 1983 military coup.

And, as a matter of fact, the election was and is still considered Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election by both national and international observers.

Because, Abiola who was the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), defeated his opponent– Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in his northern home state.

An event that seems impossible when it comes to politics in Africa.

In addition, Abiola also won at the national capital, Abuja; the military polling stations, and over two-thirds of Nigerian states. And with these happenings, history was made.

Prior to the 1993 presidential elections, Nigeria’s political landscape was largely dominated by men of Northern descent since independence.

And for Moshood Abiola, a Southern Muslim, to secure a national mandate freely and fairly, remains unprecedented in Nigeria's history.

But the historic achievement which was a thing of shining pride, was forcefully withdrawn from the embrace of the Nigerian people.

The outcome of the election would be annulled by the then military head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

And with his annulment, the Nigerian dream of having M.K.O Abiola as president never saw the light of reality. 

However, it would take Gen. Ibrahim Babangida sixteen years to state the reasons for the 1993 presidential elections annulment.

And these were his words:

"We knew that the new democratic government to be installed would sooner than later be toppled through another military coup d'etat, and that was something our government wanted to avoid.

June 12 was accepted by Nigerians as the best of elections in Nigeria. It was free and fair. But unfortunately, we canceled that election.

I used the word, unfortunately, for the first time. We were in government at the time and we knew the possible consequences of handing over to a democratic government.

We did well that we wanted ours to be the last military coup d'etat. To be honest with you, the situation was not ripe to hand over at the time.

Forget about the wrong things that happened in politics. The issue of security of the nation was a threat and we would have considered ourselves to have failed if six months after handover, there was another coup. I went through coup d'etat and I survived it.

We knew that there would be another coup d'etat. But not many people believed what we said. They could have allowed me to go away and then they (coup plotters) would regroup and stage another coup.

This is how coups are staged – one man will always come to complain. And he will try to convince you about his complaints."

We will not concern ourselves with the testimony of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida; for to contemplate on it is to cast pearls before swine.

But we must never forget that for once, Nigerians spoke with one voice. And this was made possible because the clarity of reasoning was placed over the sentiments of beliefs and tribe.

There are so many things that we can learn, as a nation, from this historic day. But the question is: "Are we willing to learn?"

Nigeria, as it is today, has refused to delve into the richness of her history. And the consequence of her action can be seen in the following quote of Malcolm X

"History is a people's memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals."

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