By, Israel Ayegba Ebije
Arguably, the president Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) declaration of June 12, the infamous day election victory of late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Oluwale Abiola (GCFR) was annulled as Nigeria’s new democracy day has won him accolades even in the camp of his critics.
Though a lot of side talks have emerged since he conferred MKO, Babagana Kingibe – his running mate and renown legal luminary and activist, Chief Gani Fawehemi with GCFR, GCON respectively, his decision has turned out to be one of his best in three years. When former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was pressured to change the date of our past ill-conceived democracy date, he got scared of the powers that be, instead decided to rename the University of Lagos, which he quickly regretted. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he couldn’t satisfy the yearnings of most Nigerians in that direction, he lost the goodwill of his political godfather and votes of Nigerians. Who cares if Buhari tied back October 1 handing over to Shagari as October 21 1978? In fact, his loyalists say it’s a typographic error. For the presidency, they owe no one apology over an error so “insignificant”.
Nigerians, especially those who fought back-to-back with MKO over his stolen mandate are jubilant. Even Tinubu who couldn’t catch his breath when Abacha got “presidential” accolades from PMB for sending him and many others on political exile found his voice to praise the move. Nigerians who are reasonably informed over the justice served
can appreciate exactly what president Buhari has done to heal the wound on our corporate entity over the illegal annulment of a free and fair election. Also significant and very instructive was the fact that Christians did not worry over the Muslims/Muslim tickets at the time. The June 12 democracy day will be remembered as a time we enjoyed one Nigeria. Not a Nigeria where votes delivered in the 2015 presidential election determine appointments or infrastructural developments. Not a Nigeria where we are separated along ethnoreligious divides. Not a Nigeria where cows are more valuable than human lives. That time, nobody really cares who danced Shaku-shaku with what “religious outfit”. That is how nostalgic June 12 is to reasonable Nigerians.
Now to the best part of the change of date is the hat-trick scored by Mr. President For the two first goals scored, we may recall that Generals, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) and Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) recently made it clear on their thoughts against the incumbent president seeking a re-election, pleading with Nigerians to remove him in 2019 presidential election for a younger person. Buhari scored two goals against these compatriots of his, which is indeed a masterstroke. On one part, IBB got a bloody nose over the June 12 infamous annulment, while on the other hand, OBJ goes home with empty hands on May 29 celebration which was largely fixed to celebrate his release from jail and election victory as civilian president. That should leave them with bleeding ego for a while for daring Buhari whom in the first place they grudgingly accepted to support.
For the third goal, which sums it up to a hat-trick, Buhari conceded an own goal. This is not unusual for the president who has always had an excellent string of own goals since 2015. Those who planned the June 12 “magic” may not agree that he found his own net in the game of political play. Let me, however, remind them that only a few weeks ago Buhari gave a resounding-unapologetic accolade and appraisal to late General Sani Abacha over “good” leadership. By implication, Buhari endorsed whatever Abacha did, which included incarceration of Abiola over the injustice of June 12 annulment where his mandate was stolen.
He served Abacha under the famous Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), which was responsible for a good number of infrastructural developments. The point here is that Buhari has never shown concern or sympathy for MKO over the June 12 annulment, he never mentioned it since 2015 until 2018. Nigerians are now aware Mr. President has just scored a cheap political point. In fact, some called his decision to change democracy day celebration a Greek gift. They have expressed their gratitude, but remain resolute to vote him out.
As the third goal continues to ricochet in Buhari – APC goal post, claims by his media aides over alleged fulfilment of campaign promises reduces to ashes as Nigerians can see obvious desperation kicking in on the June 12 democracy day decision. Some few lessons from Bubari’s move on June 12 against the grandstand of Mr.
presidents loyalists are that the Yoruba’s are as relevant as the Hausas in Nigeria politics; that Buhari who claimed he was denied mandate three times is afraid of losing the election now that he holds the reigns of power; that even the dead could be used for the campaign. We have also learnt that Buhari and his advisers can be forced to decide on an action without blaming Jonathan.
Ebije can be reached via: [email protected] or @ebijeirael