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Yorubas Are Not Deceived, June 12 Is Democracy Day ~By Annkio Briggs


The two great sons of Nigeria and of the Yoruba nation, Late Chief MKO Abiola and late Chief Gani Fawehinmi deserve all and any future awards and recognition that will be conferred on them.

These are great men of Nigeria, born to leave their foot prints on the sands of Nigeria, for the sake of the people of Nigeria. Both were jailed at certain times for what they believe is right for Nigeria and the people, but Chief Abiola died under unexplained circumstances.

Every genuine and real believer in Liberty, equity, justice, good governance, development, security and accountability will and should agree that people who have paid a heavy price ought to have been honoured a long time before now.

Honouring late Chief MKO is incomplete until the nation is told the truth of how Chief MKO Abiola their elected President died, in the not too far future the truth ought to be known.

The call for the 12th of June to replace 29th of May as Democracy Day has been made by lots of Nigerians over the years.

My humble self have had the honour and privilege over the years to have been invited to be with like minds on more than two occasions to speak at the Ikeja residence of Chief MKO Abiola the hero of June 12 and l have joined others in demanding that June 12 be recognised as Nigeria Democracy Day instead of 29th of May.

The first beneficiary of Chief MKO’s win at the polls and sadly of his death was former President Rtd. General Obasanjo; he could have recognised the sacrifice and legacy of his kinsman.

On 29th May 2012 during his democracy day speech six ago and three years before the 2015 elections the then President Goodluck Jonathan announced that University of Lagos Akaka is to be renamed Moshood Abiola University in honour of Chief MKO Abiola.

President Jonathan’s government’s effort at recognising the sacrifice of  Late Abiola was misunderstood and rejected yet Jonathan said that ‘late Chief MKO Abiola, and other heroes and martyrs of democracy made huge sacrifices and ensured that military dictatorship became  a thing of the past.’

The decision by the federal government lead by Jonathan was not accepted; hence it remains the University of Lagos. Chief Abiola was right to demand for the actualisation of the mandate given him by Nigerians in the June 12th 1993 presidential elections on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.

The June 12th election is acclaimed as the most credible at that time in the history of Nigeria yet the election was annulled by the former military dictator Gen. Ibrahim Babangida whose regime conducted the elections.

After Abacha’s death the democratic thing to do was to have given back the people’s political mandate to the people’s president, instead the people were ignored and Chief Abiola died under questionable circumstances under the watchful eyes of the brokers of the so called meeting.

As usual the military made undemocratic decisions without consulting the people or listening to the people and gave the mandate to one of their own retired and jailed Obasanjo in a bid to hold onto power by force claiming to compensate the Yoruba politically.

The honour that Late Chief MKO Abiola deserves and the people wanted, which is above any other honour is the honour Nigerians gave to him on the 12th of June 1993 by electing him their President on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, which was denied him by force of guns, imprisonment, abuse of his basic human rights and eventually death.

The NDSDM agree with the respected Yoruba leader  Pa Chief Ayo Adebanjo  that “Buhari should not think Yoruba are fools.”

And with Prof. Wole Soyinka when he said President Buhari cannot honour Chief Abiola on one hand and admire his tormentor Gen Abacha on the other hand.

The NDSDM believe that Chief MKO Abiola should have been honoured by the government of President Obasanjo, and that late President Yar’Adua and should have honoured and recognised Chief MKO.

Perhaps President Jonathan in his decision to honour Chief Abiola  should have consulted with the Yoruba people and the family of Chief MKO, if he did the decision would have succeeded.

I was amongst the people that said so publicly and on a live television interview in Lagos, along with another guest.

With or without this honour MKO remains the people’s President and the hero of democracy. Lovers of truth, freedom, liberty, justice and equity will see this gesture for what it truly is an attempt at image laundering for the President and to cover up the massive failure of this government, no matter how big, any honour that will be conferred on Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi in the future it can never be greater than the honour of the people for them.

During the four attempts of President Buhari to be voted for as president  he never one day campaigned about June 12th as the true day of democracy in Nigeria.

This over deserved honour conferred on Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi smacks very much as a second thought, it came after the nation had celebrated Democracy on the  imposed date of 29th of May.

To honour Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi in a silent attempt to score political points with the nation and advocates of democracy, justice, equity and liberty is a disrespect to Nigeria and Nigerians who have lost their lives and have been oppressed, imprisoned, terrorised and blackmailed for their demand for good governance, security, accountability and equality.

During the four attempts of President Buhari to be voted for as president  he never one day campaigned about June 12th as the true day of democracy in Nigeria.

President Buhari has not in any way before or since 29th of May 2015 demonstrated in words or actions that he believes in the process of democracy, law, or respect for human rights and life.

His style of governance shows no intention of delivering the dividends of democracy, he will not be able to deceive Nigerians that if he honours a man who stood, fought and died for democracy that he is a democrat.

MKO Abiola’s wife Kudirat Abiola may not have stood for any elective position but she stood with her husband for Nigerians and paid with her blood, she ought to be honoured alongside her husband.

No honour conferred on them can compensate for the pain and torture of MKO being imprisoned when his wife was gunned down in broad daylight for democracy. NDSDM believes Kudirat Abiola deserves to be honoured alongside her husband.

The real honour that will be befitting to Chief MKO Abiola is for this government to allow democracy to reign in Nigeria.

This government should honour the true hero of democracy by allowing Nigerians of all the 36 states, that are the federating units of Nigeria to choose the political leaders they want in their states and region.

This honour is using the personal sacrifice Chief MKO Abiola and his family made for the people of Nigeria to gain political mileage lost in the past 3 years is exploitative and weak.

Celebrating democracy day on the 29th of May and exactly 2 weeks (14 days) later declaring that democracy day is changed to 12th June smacks of finding a way to deceive the people.

The six states of the South West political  region actually do recognise and celebrate the 12th of June as the real democracy day in the Yoruba nation. The NDSDM do take 12th June as THE DEMOCRACY DAY.

This overdue honour is an attempt to win back the Yoruba votes that is clearly lost and will be clear on Election Day in 2019.

The respect and love Nigerians have for Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani  Fawehinmi  restrains, so in our need to point out the obvious we don’t intend to offend the families of these great leaders of our times.

We are convinced that the Yoruba people know better than any other people that this is a glaring attempt to say to them President Obasanjo did not do it, President Jonathan did not do it, l am doing it 8 months to the 2019 elections therefore give me your vote.

This is not an attempt to tell the Yoruba people anything they don’t already know, rather this is to take a position on the very sensitive topic of June 12th and any other attempt that will be made in the future by this government to stay in power by claiming they have the mandate of the Yoruba in 2019 as it was in 2015.

This government does not have the mandate of the Niger Delta people; we did not believe the President during his campaign of the 2015 elections when said he is a reformed democrat because he never was and judging by the past 3 years he is unlikely to be a reformed democrat.

No one can be what or who they are not. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Finally, every day brings us closer to the red line of the way to go in Nigeria; it’s an issue of living or dying. right or wrong. It is about we can’t and won’t go on like this, there are no slaves and no masters. There is only equality.

We are convinced that the Yoruba people know better than any other people that this is a glaring attempt to say to them Obasanjo did not do it, Jonathan did not do it, l am doing it 8 months to the 2019 elections therefore give me your vote.

This is about making the right decision at the right time.

The NDSDM believes that every Ethnic Nationality has a right to be in Nigeria on terms that work for the nationality, therefore it is not about the census number of the nationality rather it is about equality of all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

The only hope for Nigeria to continue as a nation is hinged on the clamour for restructuring. The call to restructure Nigeria is actually a call to give Nigeria one more chance to remain a country.

Restructuring is a call to agree to a new Nigeria, a negotiated Nigeria where we are equal partners in project A New Country, a new constitution, written by a people for today and the future. A new country where each people decide for themselves what is best for them.

Nigeria is Federal Republic, hence, it is made up of 36 states, federalism pre-supposes that each state will constitute its own government for itself, and independent of other states.

Where Nigeria is today, and her people’s demands for development, security, justice and equity makes it extremely necessary that Nigeria is restructured before the 2019 elections.

We need, and therefore demand, a new political order that will free the over 300 Ethnic Nationalities from the bondage of a few people inside and outside of Nigeria  who take the resources of other states and make the resources their personal resources, depriving the region that own the resources.

The right of each state and the Ethnic Nationalities of the state to govern itself is it’s own right and not the right of the Federal Government. Nigeria can be restructured before the 2019 elections if all 36 states want to stay on in Nigeria.

What becomes of Nigeria will be a collective decision not the decision of a few.

Annkio Briggs is the convener of the Niger Delta Self Determination Movement. She writes from Port Harcourt the capital,of Rivers State. She is an indigene of Rivers State, a rights advocate of Liberty, Equity, Justice, Development, Environment, Resource ownership and Politics. She is known for her fearlessness to talk directly to power and people.

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