June 12 again!
Just when it wanted to turn glorious in 1993 with a watershed rejuvenation of hope in the democratic process, potential obliteration of our ethnic and religious cleavages as well as a rebirth of national pride with the election of a one that knew his onions well to our Presidency, it got beaten, mangled, killed and buried by IBB. He killed June 12 out of fear of those who would have killed him had he demurred, then attempted to pass the annulment of Nigeria’s greatness off as a patriotic duty rather than a cowardly act by a general afraid of a gunshot from a shotgun held to his temple!
I recall the political abracadabra and sleight of hand of the military, threats of mayhem and chaos by those who wanted June 12 validated and the tomfoolery of some political charlatans and military collaborators with unbridled chicanery and an unsurpassed exemplification of shooting themselves in the foot. In spite of the huge numbers of Nigerians who sacrificed lives, limbs and livelihoods in the fight to restore our lost glory stolen in broad daylight by those who wield arms on our behalf, some of our ‘compatriots’ saw the annulment as an opportunity to be grabbed with both hands. Selling their dubious souls and perforated conscience were considered not too high a price to pay, provided their nests were feathered with the filthy lucre of Lucifer’s 30 pieces of silver. They simply forgot, rather chose not to remember, the fate of Judas Iscariot!
Such opportunistic beneficiaries are too numerous to enumerate here. It included an IG with a Ghanaian sounding name (now late) who told us and the unbelieving international community that our revered Nobel Laureate and pro-democracy titan – Professor Wole Soyinka – was one of those ‘throwing bombs’ during the post annulment resistance. This was in spite of the ‘visible’, incompetently disguised imprimatur of the regime at all the murder and maiming arenas nationwide. In Bagauda Kaltho’s murder by bombing, they put a clean copy of Wole Soyinka’s book in the dead man’s possession as evidence of WS’s complicity in the investigative journalist’s vicious, wicked untimely dispatch to the great beyond! They forgot that a burnt ‘fada’ cannot have his beard unscathed when he burned all over! Such a puerile subterfuge executed by a simpleton of the lowest grade in our security services in those dark days!
Then there was the nauseating case of an elected governor in one of the states created out of the original Borno State. He was still a civilian Governor in the quasi-military grafted tree of the regime following the shoving aside of the Egba Chief. The butterfly considered himself a bird! I recall him saying with a lot of swagger on national television that even the mere mention of the term ‘June 12’ has become anathema and anyone so doing will be decisively dealt with. Little did he know that riding the tiger’s back requires your riding forever, for, if you disembark, you end up in the tiger’s stomach! A few months later, he lost his gubernatorial swagger in ‘a coup’ of sorts deftly executed by the one they hailed as Magaji or Khalifa, successor in Hausa language. To my eternal consternation and bewilderment, the self-same unscrupulous politician and anti-June 12 disciple has been a recurring decimal representing his senatorial district forever in the Nigerian Senate as a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic! He sleeps (some say he even snores) his way through most debates and yet gets ‘re-elected’ every election cycle! A perfidious beneficiary of the spoils of the war he sabotaged.
Meanwhile, people like Umar Dangiwa who made lifetime sacrifices for democracy watch on the sidelines! I am glad that the Jagaban Borgu stands astride Nigerian politics today like a Colossus. We will only know if, as deserving as he is, following his NADECO credentials, immense contributions to the pro-democracy effort as well as risks taken in exile in the ‘90s, he will be repaid with a well-deserved successful shot at the Presidency in 2023. There is already a cacophony of voices and comments pro and contra from the most unexpected corners. The next couple of years would be interesting drama indeed. I have bought my popcorn already. Let the film roll.
President Buhari has assuaged the hurt of June 12 by recognising and giving awards to key figures in that watershed 1993 election as well as making June 12 our Democracy day. However, by a cynical sleight of hand, APC leadership (read comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the aluta oshobe fame) has decided that the first celebration of this significant day is better enacted by giving Edo State and its people their own version of June 12 annulment. Edo no dey carry last! I will not cry but I believe those who feel betrayed by this annulment of sorts, a cynical next level variant which aborts the baby before conception, rather feel short-changed by the gadfly of a godfather now wanting to wear the oversized shoes of a Chief Tony Anenih, warts and all, of blessed memory. It would have been funny if this attempt at Anenihfication was not being coveted by its most virulent antagonist while the Esan Generalissimo and political okakulo lived.
Could it also be that the victim’s current travails are partly due to his attempted redress of the short stick handed the Edo Central Senatorial district? A repudiation of the emerging rapprochement with Edo Central in preference to the previous state policy of settling of scores with the Chief’s people who had only voted according to democratic principles of one-man one-vote? I thought we would let the people lead! But alas, that was just a sloganeering gimmick. Or could it be the real Edo people have been mistaken for a few yesterday’s men now weaned from the infusion tube running from Osadebe avenue? I concede that hunger can cause giddiness and make seeing clearly feel onerous.
Yesterday’s annulment throws spanners in the works of political gladiators and strategists in Edo State as we approach the September 2020 gubernatorial elections. There are war chests and chest owners’ realignments, nocturnal meetings by yesterday’s foes, with a view to clinching the ultimate prize. The two key political parties are now in a full state of suspended animation. To be or not to be, that’s what has sent the gladiators’ temperatures to fever pitch levels. Yet they cannot visit their doctors because the symptoms match those of covid-19 and any attempt to do a test could provide a god-sent opportunity, or predicament if you like, to be kept out of the primaries and part of the imminent campaigns and soapbox gyrations where more slogans are mouthed instead of elucidating how to make the masses’ lives better.
Being out of circulation at this crucial time can also have another unforeseen devastating effect. You can become damaged goods by all manner of lies told against you in 2020 if you are not able to refute them immediately, due to being in compulsory medical isolation. In 2024, the online videos can become an albatross as is happening to a university contemporary of mine. The social media has elephantine memory guys! It can, with the passage of time, make you look like a man who eats his own vomit or, even worse, one promoting his excrement as an antidote for stomach upset.
Edo State, in my humble view, is neither deserving of this pre-emptive annulment on the 12th of June, 2020 nor the emerging fascist scenario. Truth be told, Benito Mussolini is undeserving of a grotesque statue in Edo State.
NP: Views expressed in VIEWSCOPE are strictly those of the author.
Austin Isikhuemen is a manufacturing consultant and public affairs analyst.
You may reach him @ Austin.firstname.lastname@example.org