By S.O.K. Shillings
There had better be no election for or in 2023. It is not an election for Nigeria.
On June 8, 1998 at about 6:30 p.m. I met with Dr. Reuben Abati at his office at The Guardian. I went with an article for publication. In it I had postulated that there was no better way out of the ‘impasse’ than to form a Government of some eminent persons whom I listed. He read the article and agreed with me that it was good to be published and would be published.
We discussed the political situation and I expressed my reservations about the workability of the imported political system we were operating and the need to develop an homegrown formula which my article was meant to precipitate.
Some 30 minutes into the exciting discussion, a female staffer knocked at the door and showed her face like a peep. Dr. Abati scolded her for doing the forbidden. Another 10/20 minutes afterwards, she knocked and showed her face again. It was written on her there was an emergency. Dr. Abati asked her what it was. Then, she announced: ‘Chief M. K. O. Abiola is dead!’. Dr. Abati then led me into the television room where we heard the BBC news confirming the incident.
A confounded Abati turned to a confused me and announced that the new event had obviously overtaken my hard-worked article. We shook hands and I headed for my alma mata, LASU (where I just graduated) in that night preparatory to a weeklong aluta.
I have held that same view of the unworkability of this universal franchise democracy for about 30 years and a study of the happenings in the political environment and a scientific prognosis confirm my fears.
By the end of this month of May or so soon thereafter, if the primaries hold, the configuration called Nigeria would have suffered a tremor it may not survive!
Flashback 1992 and the MKO Abiola Hope ’93 electioneering. Before 1992, flashback to the antics of General Babangida wanting to stay in power by-fire-by-force. Flashback the formation of SDP and NRC; the primaries of the SDP and the Abiola/Kingibe ticket. The Abiola electoral victory, the annulment, the backslide of the ‘progressives’ especially Amb. Babagana Kingibe (who is undergoing image laundering now). Remember the Abacha soft coup of the Government of National Unity. The formation of 5 political parties and their resolve to promote General Abacha as civilian Life-President. The June/July intervention by the termination of the main actors Abiola and Abacha and the evolution of the 4th Republic.
In 1993, I did not vote because, by my background, it was impossible to go to poll and vote for MKO Abiola. Impossible! I never even heard of Alhaji Tofa before then. So, no vote. Nonetheless, I was in the war front during the crisis. It was a struggle for justice and the soul of our nation. In 2022, it is not possible for me to be an apostle of Tinubu and I have not hidden my disdain. But if a free and fair election is conducted today, Tinubu will be sworn-in in May 2023. Populist democracy end up with such people and there is little you can do about it. If it must be democracy of this formula, he deserves his victory.
In all the events of 1992 – 1998, the driving force of the impasse is simply that the fulanis see power beyond privilege. It was a right! By way of association, they dominated the hausas from time immemorial. By number (of hausas + fulanis), they have dominated the north. So, Nigeria is a property of their ownership. Populist democracy end up with such phenomenon and there is nothing you can do about it. By this formula, they deserve their dominance.
The audacity exhibited by the ‘north’ in the 1992 – ’98 ‘impasse’ deserves to be a university course for a semester. Lives were lost, property destroyed and the national psyche suffered. We returned to democracy and ended up with a Yorubaman tested and trusted by the fulanis. He ruled for them holding the cow by the head to be milked.
All things happen in a system where the head is an uncrowned king. It is a system in which $16 billion could be stolen under your watch and you live up to 85 years without thinking about it. All aspirants still visit General Babangida for endorsement. Any tested and trusted psychofant could enter the race at any time and win. The people want Obi but he will not win the primaries and is in the wrong party; as if he is even a magician that can beat this awkward system.
From the onset, the body language of Abuja (headed by a professed tribalist) was against Tinubu. Tinubu colonised Lagos and we all can see it. So, nobody can give him power and expect to colonise him. It is a conflict of colonialists.
It is dangerous for the ‘north’ to cede power and risk being deprived of undeserved milking of Nigeria in the name of the north. If is given to the north, they take it. If it comes south, they decide who and control him. A ‘north’ that is not interested in northerners. A north more concerned and ready to open to the neighbouring kinsmen than those who give the vaunted numbers. The worst sin of a southerner politician is to show concern for the north and northerners, especially our children whose future is mortgaged as almajeris.
Abdul Jubrin, the Campaign Manager of Tinubu has resigned. A lot of ‘sapiskas’ (blackmail dossiers) will be flying about now. Tinubu’s statement that he would accept defeat and work for party reminds me of Chief Samuel Mbakwe that fateful night of a million march when he said: ‘Since the people say Abacha is good, then, he is good’. He must have been shown some sapiska. The Electoral Act is crafted to stiffle opposition and leave no space for choice. The ruling party is dishing out new rules for election. No zoning, ‘withdrawal’ form, máshu-mátò rules.
May 30/31 is 1992 reset. It is going to be a second semester of audacity. But does lightening strike in same spot twice?
On the march again!
S. O. K. Shillings Esq, was former Chairman, NBA Ikorodu branch.