Opinion

2023 presidential election will be a June 12 ‘rematch’ (2)

Few Nigerians know that the annulment of June 12 Presidential election was the direct fallout of the July 29, Coup of 1966 which restored the Hausa/Fulani political tendency to power, even though transformed as Northern political hegemony since it was actually the Northern minority military men that kicked-started the July 29, 1966 coup at Abeokuta Barrack but taken over and led by Murtala Mohammed, a Hausa-Fulani irredentist. That July 29, 1966 coup was of extra-ordinary political significance of which few understand it as it marked the process of subjugation of Nigeria under one ethnic group which was the Hausa-Fulani political leadership.
Those that understood the significance or import tried to prevent it but the crisis degenerated to Biafra War which was the neo-imperial logical resolution, for or against the process of subjugation. July 29, 1966 coup protagonists won the war and became the conquistadors of Nigeria under General Gowon, who was actually imposed on the Murtala coup gang by Britain and USA, so much against Murtala’s wishes for breakup of Nigeria, the final solution to Igbo question that would have been catastrophic was shelved.
But the bubble busted in 1975 when Murtala Mohammed, the coup leader of that July 29, 1966 grew tired of Gowon and overthrew him. Gowon’s tribal sympathizers consisting of Northern minority military men revolted under Col. SB Dimka in 1976 and killed Murtala Mohammed but the coup failed, and Mohammed’s deputy, General Obasanjo succeeded him and being a political orphan under the superintendence of Northern political establishment had no choice but to go ahead to implement all the planned obnoxious policies of restructuring Nigeria and grafting and imposing Northern feudal, unitary and autocratic constitutional framework encapsulated in the creation of additional states to favour Northern states at the expense of Southern Nigeria while the British colonial Indirect Rule system defeated by Eastern Nigerian women in 1929 was exhumed and rechristened as Uniform Local Government System and imposed on Nigeria. Ever since the 1976 Murtala Mohammed inspired state restructuring of Nigeria and the imposition of feudal, unitary and untrammelled autocratic constitutional framework on it, Nigeria’s politics already distorted by Britain in 1950/1953 by granting the North 50% representation in the Central Legislature without actual demographic advantage has created a unipolar politics in which a section of the country, the Far-North dictates the outcomes of all political electoral contests to the discomfort of other groups.
This is the fundamental problem that Nigerians have sought repeatedly to resolve by abolishing the system. When in 1993 General Babangida mistakenly toppled that applecart through June 12 Election which exposed the incongruities of that inequitable system the beneficiaries kicked and got General Babangida to annul the election result.
And it was annulled. A witness to that political heist, Prof. Omo Omoruyi in his book, The Tale of June 12: The Betrayal of Democratic Rights of Nigerians, 1993 narrated how he confronted General Babangida about the annulment of the election in response to which, General Babangida told him that Northern political establishment represented by a foremost northern traditional ruler upbraided him for allowing the June 12 to happen in the first place and insisted that allowing June 12 was tantamount to destroying the structure favourable to the north erected by Lord Lugard and which if destroyed would require another Lugard to restore or rebuild. To be the instrument for the destruction of the house Lugard built; General Babangida against all odds sustained the annulment of June 12 and prevented MKO Abiola from becoming President of Nigeria so as not to enter the black book of the North.
The national remedy for the crimes of June 12 and accompanying crises was the imposition of 1999 Constitution, a slave-charter cosmetic legal order worse than military rule and full of contradictions. After the imposition of this obnoxious constitutional framework on Nigeria, the dictators commissioned General Obasanjo, a trusted ally of the military generals to assume political power to help them steer Nigeria away from the brink of destruction. Obasanjo had ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979 and had voluntary relinquished power to civilians.
Of course, he thought that cosmetic reforms will tidy Nigeria over the abyss. He was grossly mistaking as the verdict of his chief minister of state, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala after her tour de force as a reformer of Nigerian system threw her up in resignation and wrote a book that proclaims that Nigeria is beyond repairs, utterly irreformable.The above scenarios that played out between 1986 and June 12, 1993, mutatis mutandi have been playing out in Nigeria between 2015 and 2022 and will culminate in the Presidential election sometime in February or thereafter in 2023. General Buhari came to power in 2015. Before then he had been military head of state between December 31, 1983 and August 26, 1986 when he was overthrown in a military coup. To some people, he cut the image of a no nonsense anti-corruption leader especially given the background of the public perception of his successors as corrupt.
During Abacha government, Buhari served as Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund Projects. But a keen appraisal of his military rule tenure discloses a streak of unmitigated nepotism, narrow ethnic and religious inclinations to favouritism. Of course his autocratic disposition was writ large and beyond dispute. So, despite these obvious character flaws, politicians, especially some Southwestern ones desirous of avenging President Jonathan’s alleged derelictions towards them pulled him up and foisted him on the nation through the machinery of an alliance resulting in All Progressives Congress, and they won the 2015 presidential election. Having won the election, General Buhari’s governance in speech and action, has largely been defined by nepotism that has resulted in ethnic distrust among Nigeria‘s constituent ethnic groups. Corruption and insecurity of the worst kinds especially kidnapping, banditry, Fulani herdsmen terrorism and Boko Haram insurgency have worsened.
Economic mismanagement has only deepened the poverty in the country. Given all these socio-economic and political scenarios foisted on Nigerians by Buhari government, Nigerians’ eyes have opened to never-imagined possibilities of crass domination of key facets of national institutions by President Buhari’s ethnic and religious constituencies and the existential questions such as the threat of ‘Fulanisation and Islamisation’ as alleged by eminent persons such as Generals TY Danjuma and Olusegun Obasanjo and Buhari’s inflexible opposition to constitutional reforms and restructuring have further agitated Nigerians especially Southerners and Middlebelt people to perceive Buhari as not having their best interests at heart.
It was this perception that led to ENDSARS commotion in 2020 and the never-ending secessionist struggles by the Igbo, and now Yoruba youths represented by IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu and Yoruba self-determination groups led by Prof. Banji Akintoye and Sunday Adeyemo alias Igboho. Against the above background which in substance is similar to the atrocities of military rule (1984-1993) that prepared the ground for 1989 SAP riots, 1990 Orkar coup which shaped Nigerians’ definitive political action reflected in the June 12 1993 presidential election which was more of a vote of no confidence against military rule and a vote for freedom and democracy. And it is these cumulative political grievances that are set to be replicated in the 2023 presidential election.
Just as the IBB’s misrule, and the perception of ethnic and religious domination within the military establishment made Southern and Middlebelt officers to revolt by organising the botched April, 1990 Orkar Coup which prepared the ground for June 12 1993 unprecedented national rebirth so also the glaring political failings of Buhari government have watered the ground for a groundswell of youthful social mobilisation, a foretaste of which is stimulating the Peter Obi support quaking Nigeria and promises to upturn all previous political equations in Nigeria and point to a presidential election outcome that will baffle Nigerians.
I doubt if the authorities and principalities and powers have seen or perceived this seismic political movement going on quietly and imperceptibly to turn Nigeria upside down – either for good or for evil but the hope of this social movement is that Nigeria either gets it right and succeeds to ordain a just and fair legal, economic and socio-political order in 2023 or the rot continues to fester to a terminal end, the end of which nobody can predict. So, let he who has eyes and ears see and hear that what is currently cooking is a ‘rematch of June 12’ in the 2023 Presidential Election. Whether anybody can stop it or annul its outcome is not an unimaginable proposition but should that happens then Nigeria will cease to be what it is now. We are surely living in an interesting time!

 

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