June 12th.. 16 years later

MKO Abiola's Campaign Theme

Today as I was going along my regular day at work, and handling my business when a friend from Naija sent me a text message that said “MKO for president. Happy June 12th.” Wow. I didn’t know anyone still thought about June 12, and certainly didn’t think anyone would bring it up as a significant day. What that text did was bring back memories of the crazy times that surrounded June 12th. I still remember Abiola’s campaign theme, “Hope 93”. Heck, I still remember his campaign ads on tv… “the small water we dey get na so so dirty dey full am, the small money we dey get nah so so transport dey chop am…. My Brother, wetin u dey worry… My sister, helep it don come. SDP, MKO, Kingibe – ACTION!!! Abiola Abiola Abiola, PROGRESS!!!” Ok I didn’t mean to write the whole song, but the ad was pretty catchy back then.

For those that don’t know of or never heard of June 12th, here is a little bit of history. June 12th 1993 was the date of probably the most free and fairest election in Nigeria’s history. An election in which religion, ethnicity or region played a little role in the choice that the Nigerian electorate made.  The election was won by Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale(MKO) Abiola by a pretty significant margin, but was nullified by Babangida’s regime and subsequently caused massive protests across the country in which many nigerians lost their lives. After returning from exile about 10 months after the elections, MKO was jailed by then president General Sani Abacha for proclaiming to be the rightful president of Nigeria. 4 years laters, MKO Abiola died of “natural causes” while in prison and that was the end of the MKO mandate. So that is why June 12th is significant in Nigerian Politics. The date of the presidential election that produced no president. MKO Abiola, the president that never was.

16 years later, and after 3 military rulers, we “celebrate” 10 years of democracy, but what have we learned from June 12th? One would think that after such a turmoil in politics in Nigeria, we would’ve gotten past the petty political BS and rise to a strong democracy. Unfortunately this is not the case, and every subsequent election after June 12th 1993 has been marked with violence, massive rigging, and numerous voting irregularities.

I can’t presonally say MKO would’ve made a great president, or we would’ve been a great country under the rulership of Abiola, but what I hoped for 16 years ago was that in 16 years (today) we would’ve learned from our mistakes, learned from the great political depression in Nigerian history, and have a stronger, more prosperous government where the people actually decide what’s good for them, and not greedy politicians. A government where Nigerians look past religion & tribal affiliation, and elect and assigned those most suitable for the job, and not the candidate with the most money to buy voters. An election where Nigerians aren’t forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. Today, I can’t say any part of my hopes have come to pass, and I can’t get myself to hope for another 16 years. For what it’s worth, Happy June 12th!!