The ghost of June 12 haunting the nation


Every midyear this ghost walks our land, silent but pregnant with potential speeches, hopeless-seeming yet imbued with hopeful expectations. Attired in white, he derides our dark-clad clime, darkened and bloodied by blood and graft, shaking his head once in a while, obviously pondering on what might have been had situations been different.

It is the ghost of June “doomed for a certain time to walk the night, and for the day confined to fast in fires, until the foul, deeds done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away. “The great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, might have had socio-political events in post-Independence Nigeria in mind when he penned those sempivirent lines. If it was not a prophetic utterance about Nigeria’s political albatross, it is, at any rate, a futuristic but pellucid logo centric encapsulation of the Nigerian dilemma at one particular point in time.

It was eighteen years ago, although it tends to look like just yesterday, when Nigerians in their hundreds of millions, implicitly rejecting religious jingosim and ethnic chauvinism, trooped out of their dilapidated homes and poverty reminiscient environment for M.K.O. Abiola to vote enmasse, just like they did again in this year’s election, which consolidated black-clad Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in power for another four gruelling years.

So it was really eighteen years ago.! Hmmm! How time flies! How one wishes that the ever-ticking hands of the inanimate sage the clock would do a spinning somersault backward eighteen years and give one that same day, June 12, in all its caterwauling per-eminence and historicity! For our condition on that day still remains the reality now, and the harsh agonising antecedents of those days of yore have not been mitigated one bit by the powers that be.

And really, nothing has changed to make the labours of our heroes past worth anything. I am willing to bet even the air I breathe in that wherever Pa Rewane is at this moment he is not happy with the stark realities in Nigeria. What of Pa Abraham Adesanya the erstwhile leader of the Yoruba nation? Who spoke up when it mattered most, at a time many had compromised the struggle for actualisation.

And who fought tooth-and nail, many times at the risk of his hide, to denounce sententiously the various injustices inherent in the Nigerian political space. There was Kudirat Abiola who dared the ever belching guns of the Nigerian military top brass to support her husband’s – cause, even when females in similar shoes would have taken refuge in the snug confines of their state-of-the-art kitches.

There was also the sublime fiery lawyer and iconoclast who fought the screaming injustice to a standstill, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, SAM, the conscience of the Nation, who courageously endured incessant incarcerations and eloquently denounced and defied the military oppressors.

I am sure he is certainly not happy in heaven where he is now, justified and comforted of God. What about Sunny Okosun, the evangelist who queued behind June 12 and its actualisation? Does he strum his guitar and sing merrily now because of our condition! How about the hero of June 12 himself, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola?

Would he nod his head in affirmation of the harsh stark realities of our national life? Would he not ask us whether we as a nation have fared better in the new dispensation, dubbed democratic, for want of a more apposite term? And if it comes to that is our condition in the democratic dispensation better than that which obtained on June 12 when an almost palpable sense of hope, excitement and relief swept all over the nation? A careful gaze at our condition is indispensable if we must answer this pertinent question thoroughly.

Politically, although our nation seems to have broken the jinx of violent political succession, getting over the allure of coups and counter-coups, the reality however is that our political socialisation still borders on the naïve, bread and butter variety, perhaps precipitated by our naïve misinterpretation of the executive presidential system, which we have grossly distorted, excessively monitised and primaevally culturalized, so much so that it stands a repudiated bastard of the original version, what with almost 40% of the nation’s funds being splashed on only two organs of government: the Executive and Legislature.

Mr President should remember that Nigerians voted for him enmasse not because of his party the PDP, which many see as anti-people, but for his personality as an arresting individual. Therefore he should not disappoint the ordinary people who had stood by him to be president.

That is why the president has to urgently arrest the sky-rocketing price of kerosene, which the poor people of this country use daily. Although it is said, that a bad manufacturer cannot produce a good product, the bad product can be improved upon in the drawing board and thus redeemed. Although people see the PDP as a bad manufacturer, the product, Dr Jonathan, can improve by pursuing programmes and policies that touch the common people’s lives directly.

Politically, too, there is a debilitating dearth of vision and quality ideas to move our nation beyond the rudiments, of nationhood.

And even our articulated problems must be studied by Mr President. It must be affirmed, right away, that only the judiciary is pulling its wigly weight in our democracy dishing out brilliant and courageous verdicts in its courts, and even this organ is embroiled in a crisis of hierarchy and protocol.

Economically, life here is illogically threnodial and melodies might have been in outer space. We are the captives of only one product: crude oil. The eggheads call this mono economy. Forget the cocoa of the West, the groundnuts of the North and the coal of the East. Industrially, capacity utilization oscillates between O and -1. The nation is swathed by the PCN in an incandescent patch of darkness, which must not be tighted lest the generator moguls, the fat cats of Abuja, be put out of business and out of their superiority complex. The banks are a drainpipe, skimming and scamming trillions of dollars into the personal accounts of their big-coated MDs.

So what, one may want to ask, is the significance of the June 12 political landmark to most Nigerians? Before one would put one’s finger on the national symbolism that is June 12, perhaps one should say what it is certainly not. For one, it is not the struggle for multi-billion contracts by briefcases-toting but shallow politicians who speak and write only to exhibit their conceptual illiteracy; neither is it that rat race to claim jumbo allowances from the government even when it is circus shows that go by the name of parliamentary sessions. It is not the struggle to solely build private universities to aggrandize oneself (which seems to be the fashion now), tempting though that it is. It is not the struggle to build personal castles in the air (like a presidential library) with the people’s money.

Rather June 12 embodies the struggle to experience the simple joys of life: food, road, clothes, shelter water, light according to Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It is the struggle to have petroleum products like fuel and kerosine to power one’s generator and to light one’s hurricane lamp. And Dr. Jonathan had better realise that it is the common people’s welfare that will determine the security of the presidency. If the common man cannot now buy kerosine, and food comfortably, and it is priced above the fleecy cloud, something must be essentially wrong with this democracy. The situation in this country re-echoes Shakespeare again:

“I am thy father’s spirit doomed for a certain time to walk the night, and for the day confined to fast in fires, till the foul deeds done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away.”

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