Obasanjo and the Fangs of June 12, By Shola Oshunkeye

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Even if politics was the primary motive of President Muhammadu Buhari for honoring Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, for proclaiming June 12 as Democracy Day, and for apologizing to the Abiola Family, and Nigerians, for the grave injustice done them over the June 12, 1993, historic vote, then, I will beg the president to play more of that politics.

Nigeria needs more of such politics. Our country needs the politics of truth and reconciliation. Politics that heals past wounds and corrects the wrongs of years long gone. Politics that takes power from self-conceited political landlords and places it squarely in the hands of the people. Indeed, we need the kind of politics that, like in our extant case, redeems the times and clears the mess created by oppressors who never thought June 12 could happen. But when it happened, they chose to dance on the graves of the martyrs who watered the seed with their blood.

In a way, it was good that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo did not attend Tuesday’s special awards in Abuja. He couldn’t make it because, according to the apology he sent to the president, he had to participate in a summit in Norway. Had he attended, he would have seen his own political obituary. It was on that day, June 12, 2018, that Buhari drove the last nail that sealed Obasanjo’s political coffin. Had he attended the awards, I would have loved to see his reaction that moment when President Buhari handed the GCFR plaque to Kola, Abiola’s first son. Also, I would have loved to see the expression on his face when Hafsat Abiola-Costello made that moving post-award response in which she referred to some persons as political “landlords”.

For me, last Tuesday’s conferment and Buhari’s apology effectively buried the political remains of, not General Ibrahim Babangida who annulled the election, Obasanjo, who long before he was jailed by General Sani Abacha, did his best to help other June 12 haters to inter the phenomenon. Recall that it was Obasanjo who, while the country was burning over the annulment, declared that the best candidates do not necessarily win elections. He took that line from the same verse he delivered in 1979 when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo felt he had been robbed of the presidency during that year’s elections. Recall also that, at the peak of the agitation to reclaim June 12, the self-same Obasanjo travelled to South Africa and told the world that Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed.

Yes, it was an open secret that Obasanjo collaborated with some northern oligarchs and some traitors in the South-West to bury June 12. What they never knew was that June 12, by the power and fury of right-thinking Nigerians, had become practically unkillable, like the phoenix. Like the phoenix, the more they tried to burn it and consign it to the grave, the faster it rose from its own ashes, and the more energetic it became.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, those who tried to kill June 12, 1993, met their nemesis. Buhari, with that apology, sincere or concocted, drove the last nail into their political coffins. The apology effectively neutralized Obasanjo and his co-travelers, and practically inaugurated them into Nigeria’s Hall of Shame, which Professor Wole Soyinka canvassed in his brief speech during the ceremony.

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