Wednesday, June 18, 2008

15 Years Of June 12

JUNE 12 was for years associated with some anticipated trouble. It was the time for labour union and civil society groups to strike, it was time to agitate for the revalidation of June 12.
Years after, it became a time to seek the relevance of the day in our national life. June 12 is one milestone that judges us and confirms our endless hypocrisy. In our bid to move forward, a nebulous expression that entails duplicity, we do not know what to do with June 12.

Given a chance, some, under political expediency, would have expunged the date from the calendar. It is sad memory, it is a telling reminder of their own evil contributions to the affairs of this country. June 12 is a reminder of great opportunities vastly missed.

June 12 finally is about the election that was adjudged free and fair, yet was annulled, so that Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola, who was on his way to victory, could not be president. His struggle to regain that mandate cost him his life, again in June.

June has become a very important month in Nigeria’s national life. Among the highlights of that month are three major deaths – Kudirat, Abiola’s wife in 1996, General Sani Abacha two years later and Abiola following a few days on. With these three deaths in June and June 12 itself, the month has become one that reminds Nigerians of the ways we have toyed with this country.

Abiola’s death remains controversial. Abacha’s demise is more so. Kudirat was assassinated and the case is still in court.

Each June 12 bears new meaning because of these incidents. In the 10th anniversary of Abacha death, for example, we have been told that Abacha did not steal any money. This proclamation from two former Heads of State Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and General Ibrahim Babangida makes one wonder where they have been in the past 10 years of Abacha bashing.

If Abacha stole no money, which money did the Swiss government say it has returned? We must accept that June would continue generating its own controversies, this is one.
From nowhere, Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the man who conducted the elections that made June 12 a national milestone, has resurfaced. He has written a book which he said would explain everything, including his long absence and silence. It would be great to hear his broken silence. Now that it is safe to talk again, it is important that Professor Nwosu provides some insights into what went wrong and threw the country into darkness.

June 12 deserves more national attention than the self-serving purposes it is for many. In the light of the problems with elections, is it not in our national interest to find out how the June 12 election was held? Is it acceptable for personal interest to supersede national interest, such that the June 12 election could be cancelled because the result displeased someone?

June 12 would haunt us until we address it.