Nigeria’s Democracy Day By Ajiroghene Oreh

MY generation was born in a hostile milieu. I mean here, Nigerians born in 1990. Then, the now ‘quiet’ personage, General Ibrahim Babangida was the military President. He overthrew General Mohammadu Buhari-led military government via a palace coup d’etat precisely in August 27, 1985 and ruled the nation-space with ruthless efficiency and ebullience till August 27, 1993.




Today that he is extremely quiet is as a result of nemesis that continually haunts him. He is a first class violator of human rights and fearless executioner of human being and dreams. His misdeeds are public knowledge to all. In fact, those who worked with him grudgingly are regaling Nigeria, nay the world with fragments and bouts of revelation about their involvement in the making and/or unmaking of the entity we call Nigeria. The latest in the series of memoirs and ‘truthful lies’ is Major Debo Basorun’s Honour For Sale: An Insider Account of the Murder of Dele Giwa. The 360 page memoir was published by the Ibadan based Bookcraft in 2013. This audacious memoir is a by-product of the various events that culminated in the memoirist’s resignation as the military spokesperson of the administration of General Babangida. It is a laborious attempt at documenting the over twenty-one years of a “kaleidoscopic but exciting career” of the author at the pinnacle of power and how a “miscalculation on the part of the powers-that-be led” to him uncover the truth that, in “concert with his Intelligence Chief, Colonel Haliru Akilu, Babangida has not come clean with the Nigerian people-nay the world-concerning the duo’s roles” in the brutal murder of the foremost journalist, Dele Giwa. The murder of Dele Giwa through a letter-bomb dispatched from the presidency is yet to be laid to eternal rest, and it remains on the infamous long list of Nigeria’s unsolved murders!

This piece is simply about

Democracy day in Nigeriathe democracy day of the contraption christened Nigeria by Miss Flora Shaw concubine and later wife of Captain Frederick Lugard the former Scottish frontier who yoke together the Northern and southern Nigeria’s one hundred and one years ago (1914). This piece is a product of rumination of the poetry and drama of dates of May and June in the annals of the nation’s chequered history. History is an assemblage of past events. According to the Isoko-born radical historian, Professor Obaro Ikime, history deepens man’s understanding of why and how things happened. The late novelist and historian, Chinua Achebe would say, history is our guide, without it we are blind and grope in darkness. Little wonder, some of his novels are set in the past in order for us to know when and where the rain started to beat us. In all, it is imperative for us to have a great awareness in our looking forward for “change”.

May 29, 2016, Nigerians will paint the nation ‘green and white’ in celebration of democracy day. A backward glance to the past will reveal that May 29 caricaturing as democracy day is not democracy day but “execution day”. It was the day General Abdulsalami Abubakar, inheritor of power when the General Sani Abacha died chose to hand-over power of execution to General Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

The true democracy day is June 12! Yes, June 12 remains the true democracy day! It was the day Nigerians came out in millions waving the voter’s card and voted the man of the people, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the presidential candidate of the welfarist SDP on June 12, 1993 presidential election. That epic election adjudged as the freest and fairest ever conducted was annulled by the despot, General Babangida on June 23, 1993. Nationwide protest greeted the witchcraftcy of General Babangida. Amidst the turbulence, General Sani Abacha assumed office as Head of State via a palace coup on November 17, 1993 that ousted Chief Ernest Shonekan as Head of the Interim National Government inaugurated by General Babangida.

For Professor G.G. Darah, what most “Nigerians do not know or not allowed to know is that

Democracy day in Nigeria May 29 is the day that the former Northern Region of Nigeria grudgingly agreed to move gradually into self-government in 1959. The West and the East has done so in 1957. The conservative northern elite resisted the freedom of self-government. In 1947, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa expressed the opinion of the elite when he warned that if the British went ahead to grant independence to

NigeriaNigeria, then the North would have no option than to carry the mission of the Islamic Jihad (holy war of conquest) to the Atlantic coast of the south. The northern oligarchs had to be persuaded and given assurances by the British to accept to join the rest of the country on the march to flag independence… The Northern Region chose May 29 for entering the drama of self- government”.

For a meaningful development democracy engenders to take place, we must be true to the June 12 struggle, and the emancipation of the land.

Joseph Oreh

Oreh, writes from DELSU, Abraka




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