The name Nigeria as a country was conceptualized after River Nigeria by Flora Shaw some good decades ago. Our independence is no longer new story to most Nigerians as we are quite aware of the fact that this happened on the first October, 1960.
From stories we have heard, Nigeria came into being through the amalgamation of independent regions (protectorates). What this amalgamation has produced are seeds of regionalism, ethnicity, tribalism, and many more; despite the intention of our founding fathers to make this country one.
Tracing back the political clime at that point, it is quite evident to speak of how political alignments were formed along regional basis; this particular situation has produced abstract concepts of regionalism, religion, ethnicity and nepotism in the system.
It is quite observable to state that instead of us to work as a people with common goal; we have often seen ourselves work in discord, with little projections for a truly united country.
Leaning back to the main premise of this submission, the JUNE 12 dilemma which comes up with fresh memories to many is still an issue of debate. What we had prior to JUNE 12 were series of militarism characterised by highhandedness, nepotism, social disorder, and many more issues probing the daily life of the common man.
This highhandedness produced some level of mental and physical fatigue, tiredness and lack of trust in the system and governance. Significantly, this affected lives in many spheres.
Nostalgically, it brought up scenes where fear prevailed and lives were unsafe. Nigerians quest for democracy at that point was prime.
This particular optimism was heralded with accolades of support for candidates from the two major parties. The key contenders were Alhaji Bashir Tofa and Chief M.K.O Abiola deputised by Babagana Kingibe as the presidential flag bearers. Nigeria was under a two party state at that point.
From events that followed, the election was presumed to be free and fair, and it was presumed to have been won by Chief M.K.O Abiola and Babagana Kingibe as vice; therefore religion was almost to be eased out of our polity, regionalism was also to be seen not as a problem BUT the content and character of the actors were likely to be seen as the driving force.
This election was then annulled, leading to a situation where it could be said that Nigerians took a step further and ten steps backward.
What this election produced across major regions were feelings of MISTRUST about the polity, seeds of REGIONALISM, RELIGIOUS DIVIDES, feelings of insecurity as the country was then seen to be under some CAGE of ownership where Nigerians felt like tenants in their own country.
The negative elements took charge of the country; infested our systems, brutalized our civil lives, and zeroed down our academic lives. Our national institutions were in a chaotic mess, our communities haunted. National cake fed only very few, especially those close to the government of that time, including their praise-singers. This problem lingered and is still lingering.
Then 1999 brought some cover, some kind of palliatives and some form of smoke screen activities that reflected what could look like a new lease of life, a new direction towards reconciliation.
Yes, President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power and opened some pages of the book. He actually came on board in line with the script designed by those who forcefully hijacked Nigerian ownership structure to themselves. Furthermore, his coming on board was to douse mounting tension in respect of the annulled June 12 election and its dilemma. It was a smart move that perhaps has other ulterior motives.
Has the story changed? One keep asking……..
Our leaders have made choices over the years and we are paying dearly for some of the choices they made. We have married their choices with our actions with no room for re-evaluation. Our actions have produced a lot of troubles in the system. What we see today is the offshoot of those actions we failed to re-analyze.
On the streets are children, men and women displaced from their homes; in the IDP camps are vulnerable men and women ravaged by war as war knows no religion or boundary. On the streets are children who might have dropped out of school to pick a trade just to support their families financially. In our ghettos are young ladies who have fallen victims of premature pregnancies. At every corner are youths and children who sell and use illicit drugs; This and many more are likely to spring as a result of some of the bad decisions we have made as a people, or at best decisions foisted on us by those who milk the system as leaders.
What if JUNE 12 and the real choices of Nigerians were respected? What if our democracy started right in 1992? What was the state of mind of an average Nigerian who voted candidates not minding their religious affiliations?
These questions should have been asked before, and I wonder if we still are asking questions any more.
I stand with Nigerians to speak of the JUNE 12. Chief M.K.O. Abiola was not just a Yoruba but a Nigerian; so as a Nigerian, I stand with Nigeria proclaiming that our leaders should learn to do the right thing.
Evans BinanDami is a Clinical psychologist /writer/researcher/social activist and a blogger. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, 07035578447: Blog: evansbinan.blogspot.com