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June 12

L-r…Chief (Mrs.) Scholastica Chinyere Akawor- Ezuma, Bobaselu of Ejigbo and Ijanland, Eze Alex Nwoye and Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo.

Gospel According to June 12

How do we explain the avalanche of commendations that followed President Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day? June 12, 1993 has evolved from an ordinary day in Nigeria’s political history to an extraordinary metaphor that throws up deep life lessons for the nation and for us as individuals. If we think deeply, we will catch dolphins of deep insights that can benefit us as we all pursue our dreams of greatness.

First, dreams can get shattered! One can have beautiful dreams and see those dreams get shattered. It does happen in life, but we must never be discouraged. We must keep dreaming. When one dream is shattered, dream a bigger one and keep your life on a fast lane. This advice makes more sense when the dreamer is still alive. Sadly, in the case of our beloved Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, he didn’t get the chance to dream again as he died and his dream of becoming the President of Nigeria died with him. Though he is long dead, he is honoured today as one of the martyrs of democracy in Nigeria.

Second, watch the seeds you are sowing. Another thing we can learn from June 12 annulment is that there was a disturbing harvest. I believe the annulment is a consequence of certain actions or inaction of our beloved M.K.O Abiola. Some have accused him of sinking a ship filled with Bibles and that he was one of those who hindered Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from becoming a President. I do not have any evidences whatever to prove the authenticity of these accusations. But one thing is very clear that Bashorun M.K.O Abiola was loved and massively voted for across Nigeria. He was well-known for his philanthropic acts and appealed to almost every section of the country. Yet, the election was annulled! Could it be that a seed has been sown in the past that brought forth an unexpected harvest? Whatever the case, we all must be careful in all we do. All our actions (overt or covert) will count for/against us one day. Nothing escapes the gaze of the all-seeing and righteous Judge of the all earth. So, watch the seeds you are sowing.

Third, you can’t force things to happen. There are times we wish we can force things to happen our way, but it is not going to be possible. Bashorun M.K.O Abiola would have wished too. In life, we have lofty expectations, but we are sometimes faced with disappointments. We just have to accept that fact that there things we can’t force to happen to us regardless of how much we try.

Four, life is vanity. When I recall the popularity and riches of Bashorun Abiola and wonders where he is now, it dawns on me that this life is vain. Life is truly meaningless without touching the lives of people positively. After all the struggles, sweats, tears and blisters, death comes calling and takes a man away from his dreams. Death spoils the fun of life. Life is vain. Do not build your life on vanities or trivialities. Accept Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth and the Life – as your Lord and Saviour. Life becomes meaningful here on earth and in eternity when we turn to God with all our heart.

Five, money is not everything. At that time, he was Nigeria’s Dangote. Abiola was rich and had the power of reach. Money was not his problem, but his money could not stop the annulment of the election. Many of us think all our problems will be over when we have enough money to spend. Remember, some have money but do not have sound health. And when it comes to accomplishing our dreams, money is important, but it is never the most important thing to consider. Never make money your god. Rather, make God your source.

Six, you need the god-factor, not godfather. In all we do, let us not just seek God’s involvement; let us seek God’s commitment. We are advised in the Book of Proverbs to trust in the Lord wilt all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways, we are to acknowledge Him and he shall direct our steps. Seek God, not godfathers. Putting your trust in a mortal is fatal. If Abiola built his hopes on some godfathers, the godfathers definitely failed him. The government in power may not like your person, but if you have the Almighty God backing you up, your victory is sure. As you pursue your dreams of greatness, build your hopes on God, not on godfathers.

Seven, don’t announce yourself. I think it is wiser to allow people announce your arrival than for you to announce yourself. There is a honour that comes with it when somebody does your praise-singing than for you to do it yourself. Chief Abiola announced himself president since no official results were released. This landed him in confinement; he died eventually under mysterious circumstances. We can learn a life lesson from this, never to open our mouths to sing our achievements before people. Let the people see the evidences and do the praise singing. And even when people celebrate you, keep your head in its right proportion. Don’t let your head swell and push you into the well of tragedy.

Eight, is generosity in your genes? Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was one of the greatest philanthropists Nigeria ever had. He rendered help to the helpless, putting smiles on faces. I could almost say that he had generosity encoded in his genes. Generosity is a way of life we must embrace, looking for opportunities to be a blessing to people around us. While we cannot play the role of God in people’s lives by meeting all their diverse needs, we can certainly be of help. From buying food for someone hungry to paying the school fees of an indigent student to footing the huge hospital bills of an underprivileged person, philanthropy is a way to go!

Nine, not everyone wants you to succeed. Yes! Not everyone smiling at you wants you to succeed in life. There are people whose mission is to stop you from getting to the top and reaching your goals. So beware because those you consider your confidants may actually be your sworn enemies. The forces that stood in M.K.O Abiola’s way were not strangers to him. One would have expected them to support his dream to a logical conclusion. As you share your plans with people, watch out for friendly foes.

Ten, free and fair election is possible! A free and fair election is possible in this country. History has proved this in the 1993 elections. The recent election saga of the Nigerian Governors Forum does not inspire hope in our hearts as to the sincerity of our leaders even as 2015 elections is approaching fast. With a nationalistic brand like Chief Moshood Abiola, Nigerians would gladly vote and know that their votes will count. Nigerians would set aside their ethnic or religious sentiments and vote their choice into the seat of governance.

Eleven, a single utterance can put one behind the bars. Watch what you say. A mere utterance can get you into trouble especially if you are an opinion leader. Words are very powerful. Our beloved M.K.O Abiola made only one statement and the rest is history. It was a statement that led to his confinement. This is to warn those who take delight in making baseless threats or unguided comments. Even jokes must be told with every sense of caution. Yet, just one statement you make can lead you into fortune. Don’t let your tongue invite misfortune into your life.

Twelve, be a beacon of hope. Abiola was a pure symbol of hope. Aside from the hope that flowed from his acts of philanthropy, he built a brand that pumped courage into the bloodstreams of Nigerians. His name rang a bell. His name sang a song. A whole new atmosphere came on the nation as new expectations surged in the hearts. I remember that the Abiola’s campaign theme was Hope ’93. Oh how time flies! My challenge to you is this – become a beacon of hope in your family, community, state, nation and the world at large. Do what you can do to inspire hope in the hearts of people around your life. Remember that hope is the anchor of the soul.

It’s now 25 years yet June 12, 1993 retains its relevance in our books of remembrance. After our visit, what will be said about you and I? What will posterity say about us? What lessons would people learn from our lives? What legacy are you going leave for generations to come? Let us live lives worthy of emulation to the glory of God and to the blessing of mankind!

For a better society

Mike Ozekhome visit Alhaji (Dr) Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha

..Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist,Chief Mike Ozekhome,SAN,today,June 12,2017,met with the Lamido of Adamawa,His Royal Majesty,Alhaji (Dr) Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha,at the Lamido’s palace in Yola,Adamawa state,to discuss with the first class monarch about sustenance of the much needed unity and peaceful co-existence amongst all Nigerians,irrespective of tribe,religion,language,gender and political persuasion.Here are some photographs taken when the Lamido received the fiery social justice crusader in his palace.

For a better society

June 12, true federalism and the threat of Balkanization

Twenty four years after Nigerians rose in unison to defy ethnic sentiments to vote for Muslim/Muslim ticket (late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Amb. Babagana Kingibe)in the famed June 12, 1993 presidential election, the threat of balkanization propelled by ethnic nationalism has become more real than imagined under President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Abuja Bureau Chief, OBIORA IFOH takes a look at the development particularly the calls by sections of Nigeria for a restructuring of the federation.

A federation can be loosely defined as an amalgam of quasi political units into a whole political unit; and while the federating units retain and manage their resources and develop at their own pace, the central government plays the unifying and supervisory roles while also not wresting powers from the federating units. At independence in 1960, Nigeria was patterned politically on a structure where the regions were practically stronger than the centre and the regions developed at their various pace.

However, after the intervention of the military in 1966 and subsequent regimes, particularly, during the General Yakubu Gowon’s government, federalism was redefined to mean a stronger centre and weaker component units. In practice, it was more unitary than federal. Most of the residual influences of the units including agriculture, education, natural resources, road amongst others were transferred to the exclusive list of the central government or at best concurrently managed by the units and the centre. The civilian government between 1979 and 1983, sandwiched by the military governments toed the same pattern of administration up till the present.

Agitation for proper interpretation of federation, otherwise referred as ‘true federalism’ took centre stage soon after the military misinterpreted it. However, it reached its crescendo during the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida when Nigerians in their determined efforts to oust the military defied all ethnic and religious biases to elect a civilian government which offered hope for a restoration of federalism.

That election held on June 12, 1993 which saw late Chief Abiola coasting to victory was unfortunately aborted and declared inconclusive. This Monday marks the 24th anniversary of the watershed. Today, the clamor for a return to true federalism has even widened. While virtually every segment or region in Nigeria thinks that the federation is not working as it should be, Nigerian governments have not made any genuine efforts to pander to the yearning of the citizens.

The closest effort towards true federalism was the 2014 constitutional conference powered by the Goodluck Jonathan government but the document which largely addressed the contending issues in the federation found itself in the trash bin after that government was voted out in 2015. The President Buhari government has since ignored that genuine efforts at resolving the endemic crisis. His government has rather preferred to go with the status-quo; a stronger centre and very weak states.

In the present dispensation, record has shown that only about four – Lagos, Ogun, Rivers and Delta states out of thirty six states of the federation are viable as indicated by their internally generated revenue. The rest states survive out of the handout from the centre. But the argument for regional integration became germane with a huge Regional IGR put at; Southwest – N404 billion, South South – N198 billion, North West – N69 billion, North Central – N54 billion, South East – N49 billion and North East – N29 billion. The argument is that development would be faster under regional integration but the government is not unmindful of the full import of a return to regionalism.

One practical instance of the fear of the federal government played out at the National Assembly where the South East legislators are demanding for the establishment of South East Development Commission, SEDC after their counterpart from the North East had a similar scaled through. This demand which is generating heated debate presently has been misinterpreted to mean covert support for agitation of dismemberment of the South East region from the present Nigeria.

But the spirit of June 12 is yearning for true federalism; it is standing with the clamour for restructuring of the polity. Virtually every Nigerian except the Buhari government thinks that there is something wrong with the present structure. According to Otunba Gani Adams, national coordinator of the OPC, while advocating for the restructuring of the country said that different ethnic groups in the country were forced to come together by the effort of British government without realising peculiar nature of different each region.

He said, “There is no need to remind Nigerian leaders that the time to restructure Nigeria is now, those who want the system to remain the way it is are beneficiaries of the decadence. They want a system that is bogus and not accountable to the people, a system that is opague and moribund, they want to build a strong individual without strong institutions. I say categorically that restructuring was one of the propelling factors that led to the formation of the OPC. It is amazing when people talk as if they do not understand the form and content of restructuring. Nigeria came into existence without the free and informed consent of the ethnic groups that make up the country.”

At a June 12 forum last year, Admiral Ndubusi Kanu (rtd), former military governor of Lagos State did not mince words when he stated that postponing restructuring is like extending the doomsday. He advised that the earlier the government accepts the reality the better for the country. He picked hole in the government policy on power, security and other areas, insisting that as long as the country remains the way it is, it would amount to effort in futility any policy adopted to transform it.

He further stated that the implementation of the 2014 National Conference would be a further step toward realising true federalism in the country. The report of the National Conference should be a further step towards realisation of true federalism in the country.”

Kanu believes the ongoing agitation by Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), militants in Niger-Delta, kidnapping and other social crimes in the country are products of wrong structure in her political system while also emphasizing that they would abate if the country accepts the reality of restructuring.

The fear of possible secession of the South East geo-political zone would have not arisen had the present federal government more alive to its responsibility to her citizenry. Nigeria has lived with this scenario since 1967 and in fact the secessionist group-Biafra recently marked its golden jubilee locking down the entire region. The recent renewed agitation was due to neglect by the system.

Constitutional lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Olisa Agbakoba , SAN recently dragged the government to court over alleged acts of negligence, discrimination and underdevelopment of the South East region.

The suit is praying the court to “declare that the structural composition of the states in Nigeria, in this distribution: North-West, Seven States; North-Central, Six States; North-East, Six States; South-West, Six States; South-South, Six States; and South-East, Five States; creates a structural imbalance against the applicant and the Group/Class he represents to their political and economic disadvantage in federal legislative representation, ministerial/political and judicial appointments, and revenue allocation contrary to Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which requires reflection of federal character in conduct of public affairs, and accordingly a violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which prohibits discrimination against the applicant and the Group/Class represented based on Ethnic Grouping and place of origin.”

In an originating summons supported by an affidavit of 99 paragraphs and a statement of claim, the applicants rooted their action on the ground of alleged total neglect of the applicant’s geo-political zone by the Federal Government in terms of infrastructure and general federal presence making the region feel not part of the Federal Government (1st Respondent).

It is equally demanding the creation of two more states in the South-East geopolitical zone to balance with the seven states in the North-West. The suit is also asking the Federal High Court for an order directing the Federal Government to forthwith, “prepare and send to the National Assembly for enactment, a bill to establish the South-East Development Commission (SEDC) and for ancillary matters, which body shall be charged with the execution of the said master plan and the general development of the South-East geo-political zone.”

Other areas of neglect according to the suit are the abandonment of the Niger Bridge to collapse and failure to build the ‘Second Niger Bridge’; abandonment of federal roads and failure to develop strategic new roads; failure to check erosion menace; and failure to exploit the Oil/Gas Reserves in Anambra Basin and stalling the legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for development of the South-East Zone amongst others.

Similarly, the Region of the Niger Delta (Rondel), comprising of the six states in the zone recently came up with a resolution demanding independence from Nigeria from 2018. According to them, “our motivation for decision to leave Nigeria are first President Buhari’s treatment of our people as 5 percent, northerner’s nearly exclusive illegal and immoral occupation of our oil wells destroying our ecosystems and the eviction notice by Arewa youths with tacit support of government and Arewa leaders.”

The South West zone has never hidden their agenda for Oduduwa Republic while the North Central are still battling with their second rated or derogatory northern status. Recently youth leadership of middle belt in a statement said, “but in event one part of the country decides to go away as a separate entity, the Middle Belt is also ready to make an independent statement.”

Even the northern youths in the eviction order to Igbos recently, insisted that the region can stand on its own. This is more so now that there is prospect of oil exploitation in the region. The northern region had done well prior military incursion, developed fledging economy, built word class infrastructure and the northern hegemony worked perfectly.

But the spirit of June 12 did not support the balkanization of the country, it only prayed for greater autonomy to the regions and so do most Nigerians who are favoring restructuring. June 12 marked a watershed in the history of democratic evolution in the country. It was a day Nigerians resolved to remain united under a federation called Nigeria in spite of our differences.

As some states in the South West including Lagos and Oyo observed the day as work free, the spirit of June 12 can only rest in peace when Nigeria is properly restructured, balanced political appointments and the wealth of the nation redistributed that ‘Moses will not be robbed to pay Musa’ and not on the basis of ‘5 percent voting for me and 95 not voting for me’.

For a better society

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National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said June 12 is the precursor of the democracy being enjoyed by Nigerians at the moment The former governor of Lagos State disclosed this in a statement by his Media Office entitled; “What June 12 taught us,” to mark the 24th anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola.

The APC leader, who underscored the importance of the 1993 presidential election and the agitation that followed its annulment, said: “Without the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12 election, there would most probably be no 4th Republic today and we would still be groaning under the jackboots of military dictatorship. “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.

The truth is June 12 is the mother of May 29th. Without the uncompromising resistance to military rule engendered by the annulment of the June 12 election, there would most probably be no Fourth Republic today and we would still be groaning under the jackboots of military dictatorship.”

Tinubu praised Abiola for refusing to “sacrifice honour for an ephemeral mess of pottage,” describing the late business mogul as an embodiment of the eternal Yoruba adage, which says that death is better with honour than life without dignity.

His words: “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 annulment was meant to halt the unstoppable and irresistible march to deeper democratic practice in Nigeria. That objective failed woefully.

The annulment was a challenge that precipitated a concerted response, which helped to promote the cause of democracy in Nigeria, contrary to the will of its anti-democratic perpetrators. That annulled free and fair election taught us, once again, to organise.

It tutored us new tactics and strategies of confronting, undermining and ultimately overcoming seemingly impregnable forces and fortresses of dictatorship and oppression. “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 iron grip of dictatorship that emboldens us today to warn those directly or indirectly threatening our democracy through another military intervention to perish the idea.

Just as happened in the past, those who stand on the path of truth and higher moral values will always triumph over those whose strength derive from the barrels of the gun.

“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 also blamed the misgovernance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between 1999 and 2015 for the revival of separatist agitations and deepened distrust among the component parts of Nigeria He said: “This year’s commemoration of the anniversary of June 12 coincides roughly with two years in office of the APC 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.

But the vast majority of Nigerians are neither stupid nor lacking in political sophistication. They are aware of the immense mess inherited by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. “Of course, the APC administration has not simply sat back lamenting the crippled economy it inherited from the previous government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which earned unprecedentedly high oil revenues for the most part of its tenure with little or nothing to show for it.

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.

“There is no doubt that once the APC Federal Government successfully contains these challenges, and we are gradually turning the corner with light discernible at the end of the tunnel, it can more urgently and firmly begin to address other planks of its manifesto, especially the imperative of strengthening the country’s federal practice.

“But even in our darkest moments, let the torch of democracy be our guide to the higher and nobler plains of good governance, strong institutions, reverence for the rule of law and a continually-improving and growing economy.”
Source: New Telegragh

For a better society

The Oyo State Government has declared Monday, June 12, 2017 as a work-free day.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olalekan Alli, said that Governor Abiola Ajimobi approved Monday as work-free day to commemorate the annulment of the anniversary of the June 12, 1993 elections, which was generally believed to have been won by late Chief MKO Abiola.

The government said the anniversary was also in recognition and honour of the martyrdom of Chief Abiola, who laid down his life for Nigerians to enjoy the democratic dividends of today.

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