June 12 and the founding fathers of Nigeria (2)
Last week, I huge Nigerians to stop the unnecessary eulogy for the founding fathers. This because they failed to put in place a structure to harness unity in our diversity, the foundation for a united country. Here is the concluding part of the article.
We should stop blaming our situation on the amalgamation of 1914 alone. If we think the merging of diverse ethnic nations was a mistake and a marriage of convenience by the British, look at the United States of America, the world’s most diversified country. In the ranking of countries on Ethnic fractionalisation and Cultural diversity indexes, India is ahead of Nigeria. What we lacked are detribalised and selfless leaders, a governance structure that guarantees fairness and equality, and institutional framework to make good outcome out of our diversity. There’s hope I believe; something good can come from our Nazareth.
June 12 as history and event would have been the bastion and the turnaround experience for Nigeria. The founding fathers we are fond of eulogising would have been delighted to see how June 12 corrected their undoing. This is because, our lack of masterplan for diversity, national values, unified purpose and the regrets or failures of the founding fathers would have been corrected by the election that was ranked the best in the history of Nigeria. We lacked transformational leaders. That should be the only reason to agree with, General Ibrahim Babangida’s position to respect the demands of Sanni Abacha and the northern leaders that clamoured for the annulment of the June 12 election. They wouldn’t have thought of the cancellation if they were leaders with a transformational mindset. Abiola should have been that important or a massive threat than the desire of the Nigerian voters to have him as their president. Are we that ethnic-oriented or self for personal reasons? Let us leave posterity to judge our leaders. IBB and other leaders deserve no eulogy as they destroyed the golden opportunity to unite Nigeria, create a standard for electioneering and possibly for governance in Nigeria.
June 12 was the only electioneering process with prepared candidates. MKO Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa were not selected, candidates. They voluntarily entered themselves into the race and campaigned throughout Nigeria. Unlike today, an anointed candidate can be rigged into the presidency without the rigour of campaigning all the nooks and corners of Nigeria
June 12 was the only electioneering process with prepared candidates. MKO Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa were not selected, candidates. They voluntarily entered themselves into the race and campaigned throughout Nigeria. Unlike today, an anointed candidate can be rigged into the presidency without the rigour of campaigning all the nooks and corners of Nigeria. Moshood Abiola was made before the election; he wouldn’t have stolen our money like his predecessors and those that took advantage of the event after that. He, as the president-elect was an educated person and above all, he understands the adverse effects of poverty and lack of quality education on people from his childhood experience. Perhaps, he wouldn’t have turn out as the best president the country had, but it would have been part of the journey and legacy for politics with little ethnic and religious colouration, and not we have as the rules of the game. We became so sensitive to the Muslim/Christian and the North/South permutations after June 12 elections. Nigeria missed the golden opportunity to stand on a solid rock and start the beginning of the “nomitocracy” and “mypocket” politics. Babangida destroyed the legacy and works of the founding fathers with the annulment of June 12. He has a case to answer when and if he ever meets with the founding fathers. He makes the regular eulogy we give them useless and senseless to the youth who will prefer to live in Hong Kong, a non-sovereign nation with the 32nd most significant gross domestic products in the world. After all, it is better to have a good standard of living than independence with poverty and blink future.
Before giving President Buhari the accolade for declaring June 12 a public holiday, a feat the direct beneficiaries of June 12 cannot do, we must acknowledge a rare unifying father in the person of Shehu Yar’dua. Shehu Yar’dua died in the Abakaliki prison serving a jail term for the funny Abacha coup. An unconfirmed report claimed Yar’dua called his proteges including Atiku Ababubar and informed them of the likelihood of his demise in prison. He pledged his boys to ensure the presidency of Nigeria returns to the south to address the injustice of the June 12 annulment.
If you doubt whether Shehu was a different breed northern leader or not, consider the fact that he didn’t topple the Obasanjo regime like IBB did and was a reliable number two of the junta that handed over power to Shagari. He understood the diversity of Nigeria and fairness as a virtue in building a united Nigeria. He is not one of the founding fathers but a rare unifying father, a prophet of nation-building. We are searching for new prophets to ensure Nigeria stays united under true federalism. Will El-Rufai, Ibrahim Dakwanbo, Abdullahi Sule, and other cerebral leaders from the north be the prophets? I call out the north because that is where the pains and sacrifices to keep Nigeria united will be needed most if the fractured nation is to be healed.
Buhari did one thing very right, the declaration of June 12 as the democracy day. Whether due to second term political calculations or voluntarily, his decision to declare June 12 as the nation’s democracy day among others is one of the plasters and anaesthesia to heal the wounds of the past. If Obasanjo, whom I considered as the most hardworking president in the last 21years couldn’t do that courageous work of recognising June 12, then Buhari deserves accolades for June 12 declaration as the democracy day, though his other actions are undermining the unity of Nigeria which he fought for as a military officer.
If the effects of colonialism and nationalism movements are still with us and the missed opportunity in June 12 is not yet recovered, the second wave of colonialism is here, and I wonder if the current fathers of the nation can liberate us from the waves of huge foreign debts and China’s agenda. Africa is becoming another economic colony of China with the purchase of her land, and the use of her people in slavery-like employment. We should not allow another foreign dominance that will dictate the future economic relevance of our people.
For leaders who are with the remote control of Nigeria’s politics, posterity will be fair to you only if you act in the best interest of the people. You might leave wealth as a legacy for your children from our commonwealth, but they will not leave in peace to enjoy it if we don’t take care of the majority who are impoverished by your actions. A clear case is the wave of banditry in the Nigeria where the youth that was once satisfied with the crumbs from the masters’ tables are now with arms to harm and over-run their masters. The greatest legacy Buhari and his teams in the APC and PDP can leave for Nigeria is the legacy of fairness and true federalism where religion, north or south, and ethnicity are relegated for merit in a country where the children of nobody can become somebody. This is the time to set in motion the legacy. The true political legacy is the structure and constitutional arrangement set in motion to foster unity in diversity, ensure fairness in power and resources allocation. A system will ensure that productivity is rewarded. Thus, the legacy of founding fathers or the political leaders are in the structure and institutions they build to sustain equity, fairness and unity in diversity, and not the wealth they have or leave behind for the children and associates.