By Stephen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have warmed himself back into the heart of the people of the south west Geo-political region by upholding the June 12, 1993 Presidential election which was annulled by Ibrahim Badamosi babangida, a retired General and former military President. Buhari’s initial plan was to ignore the south and turn to the south east for support in the 2019 election. But his loopside appointment which did not favour the region may have revealed to him that the region will never support him in his relection bid, forcing him to turn to the south west again by bowing to their demands in his desperate bid to retain power in 2019.
By upholding the June 12, 1993 election, moshhod Kasimawo Abiola, popular, MKO, and Babagana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who were constitutionally elected t o form a new government in the country were bestowed with posthumous national honours including Gani Fehwehinmi, an activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, for their contribution to the struggle for Democracy in Nigeria.
Abiola was bestowed with a posthumousnational honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR and Kingibe, the best Vice President, Nigeria never had received the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, award meant for the office of the Vice President and others who were Constitutionally qualified to be given the honor like the Chief Justice of the Federation , Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Also, qualifed for the national honour from the President were people who were said to have distinguished themselves in their businesses or careers . This may have qualified, Gani Faweihinmi, an activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN,to earn the GCON award.
The people of the south east maay have expected Buhari to extend the same national honor given to Abiola, Kingibe and Gani to Humphry Nwosu, the then Chairman, Federal Electoral Commission, FEDECO, , for disobeying Babangida, the then military President in announcing the election results which showed clearly that Abiola of the SDP, was leading and could have won if allowed perform his Constitutional duties by the military. He wa said to have beens forcefully asked to stop further announcement of the election results to create the impression that the election was inclusive inn order to give room for Babangida to continue in office against the wish of Nigerians. The denial of the national honour to Nwosu, the FEDECO, boss may have widened the gulf between Buhari and the Igbos for now.
Many While the Igbos are not happy that one of their own sons who ought to have have benefitted from the national honour award was not given, there was intense pressure on the Gani family to reject the national honor as the activist had done during his life time when similar national honours were given to him by past governments but they got it wrong. Mohammed Fawehinmi. a Lawyer and eldest son of the late legal Icon said the family welcomed the honor bestowed on the activist by the Buhari Administration.
The Lawyer said the association of Abiola, the late winner of the June 12, 1993 election made it difficult for the family to turn the award down like previous ones because it is coming at the same time as the recognition of Abiola as the winner of June 12, 1993 election.. He disclosed that it would have been his father’s happiest moment if he were to be alive.
Besides, giving national honours to Abiola, Kingibe and Gani,Buhari had also upturned Nigeria Democracy Day celebration from May 29 to June 12 yearly. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had proclaimed May 29 as Nigeria Democracy being the day, the military voluntarily relinquished power to a democratically elected government that was formed by him. Many see Many see it asa politicalmaster stroke which is expected to push up the polpularity rating of Buhari that, had had gone down over the months because of the high level of poverty and unemployment in the country , blamed on his inability to fix the economy which was in shambles because of poor management of past Administrations.
Buhari may have gone a step further with his plan to seal the Presidential decision that May 29 is no longer Nigeria Democracy Day but June 12 and the upholding of the June 12, 1993, election, by ordering Abubakar Malami, Attorney General and minister of Justice to quickly gaze the policies that would make become laws. Giving reasons for the reversal of the yearly Democracy Day Celebration from May 29 to June 12, Buhari said, ”it was more symbolic of Democracy because” stressing that” it was a day Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will” in a free and fair election”. Before now, the June 12” popular democracy Day” , celebration, had been limited to south west and Edo state in the south south geo-political region.
Political analysts see the reversal of the two major policy decisions taken by former military President Babangida and President Obasanjo respectively as a Sspite on the duo. Incidentally, the two political heavyweights had been opposed to Buhari re-election bid because of his alleged poor performance in office.
But not many are surprised at the reversal of theJune 12, 1993 Presidential election annulment and approval of June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day by the Buhari led APC government.
This is because of the involvement of Bola Tinubu, a former NADECO Chieftain , in the Buhari government. Tinubu and other NADECO Chieftains which had link wit the Administration were said too have facilitated the actualisation of the June 12, 1993, election and its recognition as Nigeria Democracy Day to push up Buhari rating in the south west .
A political associate of Tinubu who spoke to the Magazine disclosed that if the former Lagos state governor, popular, jagaban, had not put in words to Bhari to take the political decision in order to win the support of the people of the south west in the 2019 election, the President on his own could not have done it. Tinubu, on his own knew , that is the only political option left for Buhari to take to actualise his re-election given the strong political forces , across the country that are opposed to him. This may have brought back Buhari into contention in the south west geoplitical region despite moves by Obbasajo to mobilise forces against him in the region.
This brings to mind what Akan Ebenezer, a political analysts said recently that the only lifeline Buhari needs to actualise his re-election bid in 2019 ,was Tinubu, regarded in political circles as a” master planner and tactician” and the APC governors.
obasanjo may have, diverted the euphoria that greeted Buhari recognition of Abiola as an elected President in the June 12, 1993 election and the date as Nigeria Democracy Day, instead of May 29 to raise alarm of the government plot to fame him up in order to jail him. The revelation may have forced Okey Nwosu, Chairman, African Democractic Congress, ADC, to threaten fire and brine stone, if the former President was touched by security operatives under any guise. h the former President was said told political associates that he is now on the watch list of the government, stressing that part of the government plot was to seize his international passport and clamp him into detention.
He disclosed that the plot could not have been be overlooked because of the treatment meted out to Bukola Saraki, Senate President and Yakubu Dogara, Spaker of the House by security operatives under the watchful eyes of Buhari. He believes that if the government could framed up Saraki, the Senate President in the Offa, Kwara state, bank robbery last April in which many lives were lost, there is nothing the government cannot do to any other person in the country, no matter how highly placed in the society.
The alarm raised by Obasanjo may have given the opposition, PDP, ammunition to fight back. The party insists that all the plans by Buhari to intimidate political opponents and those ”perceived that could give him problem in the 2019 election will come to naught”.
Kola Ologbodiyan, the party Spokesman in a statement said ”the party was alarmed by Obasanjo’s revelation that the Buhari led government was plotting to arrest him on trumped up charges and detain him indefinitely”.The party said the revelation coming from Obasanjo is terrifying and would heat up the polity, as political forces opposed to his re-election bid in the 2019 general election are determied to unseat him to avoid a return to the Abacha reign of terror in the country.
Obasanjo may have taken advantage of the crisis in the respective APC sttate Congress to reach out to the aggrieved parties including the governors to sway their support to his perceived Candidate from the north. He was said to have met recently with Abiola Ajimobi, governor of Oyo state. The meeting was said to have been held behind close doors. The former President was said to have taken advantage of the crisis in APC in the state between the governor and Adebayo Shittu, the minister of Communication to step. the outcome of the meeting is still a closely guided secreet.