“We can easily recall the sacrifice and martyrdom of Chief MKO Abiola, the custodian of the sacred mandate that was so cruelly annulled. He sacrificed his life in unyielding, patriotic defense of the ideals of democracy as symbolized in his choice, by his fellow countrymen and women, as their duly-elected President. There was an easier choice for him. It was to forgo the justice of his cause and opt for the path of ease and capitulation in the face of the tyranny of power.”
Above is an excerpt from the speech delivered by Nigeria’s president who was one of the key actors in the struggle to entrench democracy against the military junta in 1993.
It captured very well what would have been the alternative if the hero and winner of that election which was aborted on June 12, 1993, had abandoned his mandate and the pursuit of justice. He could have opted out considering the enormous weight of tyranny by the anti-democratic forces, yet he remained a stickler for the truth and the preservation of democracy in its real sense rather than aligning with the forces that truncated the willful mandate bestowed on him by the Nigerian people through the ballots.
It’s yet 30 years and another election similar to the kind which aborted the transition from military to civilian government has taken place. The hitherto lackadaisical populace who had long lost faith in the Nigerian electoral system for the first time after 30 years decided it was time to take over their nation and foster a truly people-influenced democracy. They stepped out en masse with their personal voter’s cards, defying tyranny and intimidation by opposing forces who sought to silence their voices in electing the next leaders. It was a long-drawn battle for the soul of Nigeria by the people for the people.
Even though three decades have passed, and a new date signaling the rebirth of democracy set, the only success recorded has been the victory of civilians over the military. It has been a sustained transition from one civilian administration to another which has spanned 24 years. But it is not yet Uhuru as the forces which have silenced the Nigerian voters have transmuted from the military garb to the long-flowing gowns known as “agbada” in local parlance.
Not much has changed. It is now a battle between the cabal and the people.
The 2023 elections have been a reformation of the 1993 elections where the choice of the people is no longer truncated by the military but by an organized and systemic group of Nigerians through the electoral body, INEC, and the Judiciary.
Just like MKO’s failed efforts at justice, Peter Obi is not likely to get justice through these democratic forces. It’s only a modification of the process of muzzling the man whose mandate has been snatched!
As usual, those who should have made history like the martyrs and the living legends in that struggle for June 12 will again set another record on whatever date the apex court chooses to do justice or opt for a “peaceful” transition without recourse to justice.
Happy Democracy Day to all Nigerians who would read this article dispassionately without fear or favour.
Chief Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe, a socio-political commentator, analyst and columnist based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State