Nigeria as a country has been carved out of the name of River Niger by Flora Shaw some good decades ago. Our independence is no new story to most Nigerians as we are quite aware of the fact that this came up on the first October 1960.
From stories we have heard, Nigeria came up through the amalgamation of independent regions (protectorates). What this amalgamation has produced are seeds of regionalism, ethnicity, tribalism, and many more; despite the intention of our founding fathers to make this country one.
Tracing back to the political climate, it is quite evident to speak of how political alignments were formed along regional base; this particular situation has produced abstract concepts of regionalism, religion, ethnicity and nepotism in the system.
It is quite observable to state that instead for a need of us to work as a people with common goal; we have often seen ourselves work in discord, with little projections for an upright country.
Leaning back to the main premise of this submission, the JUNE 12 DELIMMA which comes up with fresh memories to many is still an issue of debate. What we had prior to JUNE 12 were series of militarism characterised by highhandedness, nepotism, social disorder, and many more issues probing the daily life of the common man.
This highhandedness produced some level of mental and physical fatigue, tiredness and lack of trust with the system. Significantly, this has affected life in many spheres including governance and the need for governance to in succession.
Nostalgically, it has brought up the scene where RELIGION was carpeted, regionalism almost getting diminished, nepotism was quite to be ushered out, and more so militarism was to be replaced with functional democracy, thou through the lens of militarism.
What came up in the election was typical of a people moving out of the learned helplessness box built by the military rulers. This particular optimism came in with accolades of support to candidates from the two major parties. These parties (National Republican Convention and Social Democratic Party had Alhaji Bashir Tofa and Chief M.K.O Abiola deputised by Babagana Kingibe as the presidential flag bearers) were said to be funded by government, and Nigeria was under a two party state.
Many will see this above situation with a drowsy looks but then what lies under such situation has gone far to send signals to many. From stories we have heard, the election was presumed to be free and fair, and it was presumed to have been won by Chief M.K.O Abiola and Babagana Kingibe as vice; therefore religion was almost to be eased out of our polity, regionalism was also to be seen not as a problem BUT the content and character of the actors was likely to be seen as the drive.
This election was then annulled and so we have taken a step further and ten steps backward.
What this election produced across the globe were feelings of MISTRUST about the polity, seeds of REGIONALISM, RELIGIOUS DIVIDES, feelings of insecurity as the country is now seen to be under some CAGE of ownership; and the subjects not to be owners but rather the tenants.
These negatives took charge of the country, infested our systems, our civil lives, our academic lives, our national institutions, our communities, and even the allocation of national cake. This problem lingered and is still lingering; then 1999 brought some cover to this as the inside still reflect these attributes.
Yes, President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power and opened some pages of the book. He actually came on board in line with the script designed by the owners of our dear country. Furthermore, his coming on board was to dose off tension in respect to the JUNE 12 DELIMMA. Has the story changed?? I keep asking……..
Our leaders have made choices over the years and we are paying dearly for some of the choices they have made. We have married their choices with our actions with no room for re-evaluation. Our actions have produced a lot of troubles in the system.
On the streets are children, men and women displaced from their homes; in the IDP camps are vulnerable men and women ravaged by war as war knows no religion or boundary, on the streets are children who might have dropped out of school to pick a trade just to support their family’s financial power, in our ghettos are young ladies who have fallen victims of premature pregnancies, on our streets are children who sell and use illicit drugs; this and many more are likely to spring as a result of some of the bad decisions we have taken as leaders.
What if JUNE 12 was respected and the choices of Nigerians were respected as well? What if our democracy started right in 1992? What happened to Nigerians to have voted candidates of the same religion? What was the state of mind of an average Nigerian?
These questions should have been asked before, and I wonder if we still are asking questions.
I stand with Nigerians to speak of the JUNE 12, Abiola was not just a Yoruba but a Nigerian; so as a Nigerian, I stand with Nigeria proclaiming that our leaders should learn to do the right thing.
Evans Binan Dami
Clinical psychologist /writer/researcher/social activist.
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