All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain, Bola Tinubu said on Monday that if not for the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election, Nigerians would not have been under the present democratic dispensation.
The former Lagos state governor said this in his message to commemorate the 24 anniversary of the annulment, which necessitated the South West governor to declare Monday as public holiday.
Chief MKO Abiola was adjudged the clear winner in the 1993 election, but was annulled by the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida administration, who later detained Abiola until his death.
But going back the memory lane, Mr Tinubu, in his message titled: “What June 12 Taught Us”, said “The annulment was a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the millions of people who expended so much time, energy and material resources to help ensure victory for Chief MKO Abiola.
“The annulment was meant to halt the unstoppable and irresistible march to deeper democratic practice in Nigeria. That objective failed woefully.
”That annulled free and fair election taught us once again to organise. It tutored us new tactics and strategies of confronting and ultimately overcoming forces of dictatorship.
”It revealed to us the imperative of forging working relationships and diverse networks across ethnic, religious, regional and partisan divides if we were to move forward.
“It is this invaluable experience we gathered in the struggle to enthrone democracy and retrieve our country from the grip of dictatorship that emboldens us today to warn those directly or indirectly threatening our democracy through another military intervention to perish the idea.”
He said 24 years after its annulment, the spirit of June 12 lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians.
“The blood of those who gave their yesterday and sacrificed even their lives for the democracy and freedom we enjoy today was not shed in vain,” he said.
Mr Tinubu described MKO as an embodiment of the eternal Yoruba adage, which says that ‘Death is better with honour than life without dignity’.
He said that late MKO selflessly committed so much of his substantial fortune toward ensuring his victory at the polls.
Tinubu said that Abiola, in doing so, was not motivated by personal, selfish or pecuniary considerations.
”Abiola could have chosen to abandon the mandate in order to rebuild and resuscitate his disrupted business, but he opted for the path of the true ‘Omoluabi’.
”He refused to sacrifice honour for an ephemeral mess of pottage. Looking back, we can say, thank you Chief MKO Abiola for giving your all that we may bask in the glow of democracy today.
”The lessons of that election still speak eloquently to us today despite the utter lack of vision in governance between 1999 and 2015 that has fuelled the revival of separatist agitations and deepened distrust among the component parts of Nigeria.
”One enduring truth that June 12 demonstrated is that given inspirational, visionary and sincere leadership, Nigerians can rise above divisive primordial sentiments to demonstrate high patriotism and a belief in merit in their voting patterns, ” he said.
He then turned to the present administration of Muhammadu Buhari, and appraised the two years in power, saying that it had already taken impressive strides in addressing the country’s challenges.
”This year’s commemoration of the anniversary of June 12 coincides roughly with two years in office of the All Progressives Congress at the federal level.
”Some critics, particularly of the opposition, are already writing off the government as a failure. Well, that is their prerogative and in accordance with their rights in a democratic polity.
”Two years into its term, any objective analyst will agree that the APC has already taken impressive strides to clear the Augean stables it inherited from the past administration.
”Concrete gains are being made in curtailing corruption, reviving and diversifying the economy and strengthening national security, even though much harder work still lie ahead admittedly,’’ he said.