Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nwosu on June 12

Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the then Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), has now given his own account of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, 15 years after it was annulled. During the pre-launch media sensitisation, the author had said that the book, “Laying the Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and its Annulment” contained information on how some cabal within the military blocked the announcement of the result of the presidential poll and had promised to name names. But disappointingly, Nwosu’s book has failed to put the June 12 story in its proper historical place.

Performing the job he claimed he was prevented from executing 15 years ago, Nwosu said the Social Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, won the controversial election. He declared that the result of the election showed that a total of 14,396,917 votes were cast. From this figure, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the NRC scored 7,076,612 and one-third in 15 states and Chief MKO Abiola got 8,323,305 and one-third in 28 states.

Nwosu further said that the late Chief Abiola could not be declared winner because an Abuja High Court order, which was served on the defunct National Electoral Commission on June 15, 1993, stopped further announcement of the election results.

But beyond declaring the already known results 15 years after, every other obsession in Nwosu’s account of the electoral felony is to absolve the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, of any blame in the annulment saga.

Strangely, the Professor praised the former military president for allowing the election to be conducted against the wishes of most of his military colleagues, while helping to pass the buck of the annulment to other officers, giving the false impression that IBB was a weak dictator who was not fully in charge.

Before the launch, the Professor had stated his readiness to unmask the principal characters in the annulment of the election. But regrettably, Nwosu’s missions in writing the book are now evident: to re-construct the June 12 history and take advantage of the financial gains of the literary work at the expense of the electorate and scores of pro-democracy people, including M.K.O. Abiola and his wife, Kudirat, who paid the supreme sacrifice during the crisis.

If Nwosu’s NEC could conduct the election despite the Justice Bassey Ikpeme’s late night illegal ruling stopping it, why was the announcement of the election result stopped mid-stream on an untenable court injunction?

Nwosu should not be allowed to stand the nation’s recent history on its head. Contrary to Nwosu’s jaundiced account, Babangida annulled the freest election ever held in the country in his desperate bid to sit tight in office. He plunged the nation into a needless upheaval. The dictator hurriedly enacted and signed many decrees to give effect to the cruel and unpatriotic annulment.

However, the adoption of Option A4 for the poll and the voting pattern that defied rigging, ethnic and religious sentiments set the June 12 election apart in the nation’s political process. The system should be refined and adopted for future elections.

With Nwosu’s belated affirmation of Chief Abiola as the winner of the election, the Federal Government owes the late businessman and the electorate an unreserved apology for voiding the election. It is now clear that the winner of the election was wrongly persecuted, jailed and killed. The nation must atone for the state-sponsored terror against Abiola’s supporters and interests. President Umaru Yar’Adua should immediately announce how Abiola’s memory will be honoured.

On the whole, Nwosu appears to have traded his personal integrity in his attempt to re-construct the evil role played by Babangida in the crisis. No amount of revisionism can atone for the wicked annulment of the nation’s most credible election.