This day, June 12, makes it 25 years since Nigeria experienced her fairest general elections which was supposed to install Moshood K. O. Abiola as the country’s president but for the election’s annulment by then military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.
Babangida had annulled the elections with Abiola leading the ballots after results from 14 states had been collated and announced, citing “a huge array of electoral malpractices virtually in all the states of the federation before the actual voting began,” as well as intimidation of the courts.
The final results later made its way to the public and showed that Abiola indeed would have won the elections and should have been sworn in as Nigeria’s president in November 1993 going by the schedule of the transition of government Babangida had in place.
Instead, Sani Abacha seized power from the transition government of Ernest Shonekan while Abiola, who had made a speech televised nationwide to declare himself president based on the election results, was imprisoned for treason – he would die in prison without getting his mandate.
While it was not going to make him president posthumously, the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhammadu Buhari last week was a sort of validation of Abiola’s mandate and an admission on the government’s part that a legitimate candidate had been denied.
With that dark spot in Nigeria’s history largely resolved, it remains to be seen what Nigerians will use it to form the basis for a better democracy for the country going forward, starting with the 2019 general elections.
The people need to put aside all biases – political, ethnic, religious, and economical – and come together to choose and vote in a truly worthy candidate to lead the country as well as put in place similar persons in other public offices.
While it cannot all be achieved in the 2019 elections, progress is a process, having the resolute desire for a much better democracy than what obtains at the moment will go a great way to getting Nigerians to making that desire a reality.
So indeed, getting your Permanent Voters Card should not be a noisy call to your ears but a resolve to be part of the process that would take Nigeria from its current state to the one in which a citizen would not scoff on hearing “giant of Africa”.