JUNE 12: Could this Phenomenon have solved all Nigerian Political Problems? By W. O. Kewulere - Ofofoloaded

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JUNE 12: Could this Phenomenon have solved all Nigerian Political Problems? By W. O. Kewulere

By OfofoLoaded | June 12, 2023 0

JUNE 12: Could this Phenomenon have solved all Nigerian Political Problems?
By W. O. Kewulere

June 12 in annals of Nigerian history signifies an episode of betrayal of the democratic rights of Nigerians to willfully elect their political leader. It was an event that embedded enormous questions like what was the motive behind the annulment of the election?, why and when and how was the election that would made General Babangida’s name written in letters of gold on the pages of Nigerian history pronounced to be null and void? But to the surprise of all, the election which appeared as solution provider to the challenges of Nigerian political developments before it had itself as a sacrificial lamb.

Some selected problems which were synonymous to Nigerian politics were solved by the June 12, 1993 election. Ethno-religious problems that had their roots in the forced amalgamation of 1914 infused power struggle into inter-ethnic relations in the country. This also promulgated the creation of political parties along ethnic and religious line, as ethnic coloration was strongly emboldened in the post-independence party formation in Nigeria. As put by Prof. Akinjobi, ‘Ebi Concept’ was the order of the day as the Yorubas adhered to AG, the Hausa-Fulanis adhered to NPC and the Igbos stood-up to NCNC. June 12, 1993 election however erased electoral participation along ethnic sentiment. The flag-bearer of SDP and supposed winner of the election was a westerner, but he got maximum supports and votes from Nigerians across all geo-political zones.

Electoral manipulation was another major challenge to Nigeria’s politics that June 12, 1993 election got rid of. Prof. Attahiru Jega described electoral manipulation as involving violation of processes, corrupt conducts by officials, snatching of ballot boxes and papers, rigging of election results etc. Electoral manipulation was part of the reasons put forward by the military in hijacking government and putting end to the first republic. They took advantage of the western region electoral crises that was factorised by electoral manipulations which ended up in declaration of two individuals as winners of a single seat – Chief S. L. Akintola of NNDP and Sir Dauda Adegbenro of UPGA. As in the first republic, the second republic too was not free of electoral manipulations. To the amazement of all, both local and international observers of the June 12, 1993 election submitted that it was an election free of electoral manipulations and fair enough for its results to be accepted. This was because its processes gave no room for corrupt practices. Option A4 made the electoral process transparent and fraud mitigating. It ensured for free, fair and credible election as god-fatherism was ruled of it.

Power of incumbency, a bone in the neck of Nigerian politics, was also challenged by the June 12, 1993 election. Prior to the June 12 saga, no Nigerian political leader had wanted to excuse himself from power as at when due. Yakubu Gowon was a renegade of his promise of handing over power to a new civilian government after the civil war, until he was forced out of office by another coup in 1975. General Obasanjo also used power of incumbency to influence the 1979 election which brought in Alhaji Shehu Shagari. While General Babangida revisited the same thought and took steps towards remaining in power, pressures forced him to allow the conduction of the election. Despite the steps taken by Arthur Nzeribe (IBB’s proxy) to stop the election through a fraudulent court judgement, the NEC resisted by going ahead with the election and made sure voters’ rights were exercised. Even when the June 12, 1993 election was declared null and void, Babangida was not able to hold onto power due to pressures from all corners, he resulted to introduction of an unrecognized interim government.

The list of Nigeria’s political problems that were challenged and addressed by the June 12 incident continues, but the question that requires response from intellectuals is whether it has completely solved the problems. At respective electioneering period, all the problems tend to resurface and the government had used available techniques to deter their influences according to capability. Taking June 12 as a model, those political challenges were duly addressed by the February 2023 election. Ethno-religious sentiment in choice of candidate was reduced. The winner and newly sworn-in head of government, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was a westerner, and he gained popularity and acceptance across five of the six geo-political zones. His kind of political leadership since when he was a governor of Lagos state suggested that he was a figure that does not segregate along ethnic or religious lines. This favored him as he was widely accepted. His acceptance indicates that when a political figure makes his political calculations well and works beyond ethnic sentiment, dropping the ‘Molebi theory and idea’, he can win elections, irrespective of his ethnic background.

Also, as it was in the June12, 1993 election where the presidential candidate of SDP and his running mate shared same faith, those of APC in the 2023 election were also of the same faith. Despite this, they got required national population and support across all faiths. What this indicates is that competency shall henceforth be given preference over religious sentiments in Nigerian politics. Kudos to the immediate past administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari for drastically reducing influence of money in electing political leaders as it was observed in the last election, thus, providing all contestants with equal opportunity of use of acceptance by the masses in winning election. With this development, the election was considered free of electoral abnormalities and its results were fair for both national and international acceptance. In addition to the above issues, if the processes to the June 12 election are taken as model, it shall stand to solve most political problems of Nigeria.

W. O. Kewulere teaches History at the Department of Religions, History and Heritage Studies, Kwara State University, Malete.
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