- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Going forward from June 12
On June 12, 1996, a delegation of the African Democratic League (ADL), a pro democracy group and a member of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) in Nigeria, including yours truly, gate-crashed the World Press Conference (WPC) organised by a group of Nigerians (The initial group which was wrongfully calling itself “patriots”, and not the latter group of Patriots, which had the legal luminary Chief Rotimi Williams as a member) in the UK.
That conference, which took place at the Cafe Royale on Regent Street, very close to the Piccadilly Street London Underground Station, was addressed by the recently deceased Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Ikemba Nnewi and Eze Igbo Gburugburu and Senator Birabi, an Ogoni man, in the presence of the High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Mrs Bianca Onoh Ojukwu, Chief Abiola Ogundokun and a few other Abacha apologists extraordinaire, among others. The crème de la crème of the international press corps were in attendance as well.
We had to gate-crash the event because we were not invited, as “the patriots” did not want us to cause ‘heavy rain fall’ on their parade of lies, which they feed the international community, through a sustained campaign of image laundry of the Abacha regime by the likes of Chief Anthony Anenih and Chief Ogundokun. But that was exactly what they got. We went to cause a ‘heavy rainfall’ on their parade and we wanted it broadcasted and televised live. We were determined to expose their work of shame on behalf of General Sani Abacha, their paymaster, to Nigerians and the world at large.
We were well aware that Ojukwu was being used unknowingly, to counter the June 12 revalidation agitations as it looked good for the image of Abacha, that an ex rebel, the former leader of the rebel Republic of Biafra, was working for him as an image launderer. Dim Ojukwu’s actions and utterances were also meant to project the pro democracy/June 12 revalidation campaigns as the Yoruba and Bendel State agitation, and not the national clamour for justice and change that they were.
The whole gist of Dim Ojukwu’s conference was that June 12 was an injustice, and Biafra a greater injustice. That if Nigeria could not go back across the years to redress the injustices the Nigerian government committed against the Igbo people, which led to the declaration of independence of the Republic of Biafra which he led as Head of State, then those who were agitating for the actualisation of June 12 and the swearing-in of Chief Abiola as President should forget it, and start cooperating and supporting Gen Sani Abacha’s government. Nigeria’s love for ad hoc fire brigade solution to bad situations was as usual what we were being advised to swallow again even by one much admired by so many Nigerians – Dim Ojukwu.
When Dim Ojukwu inadvertently picked on a member of our gate-crashing delegation to ask his question, the man stood up and declared that although Ojukwu has not disappointed with his oratorical defence of Abacha but “...on June 12 we stand”. To which Ojukwu in blazing fury responded: “If you were in Enugu, your head would not be on your shoulders by now.” This was the opportunity we were waiting for to “send down the rain” - apologies to Majek Fashek – and drench them with their own filthy lies. When the ‘rains’ came and pandemonium followed, the British Metropolitan Police were called in by the patriots.
The police arrived and we were able to prove to them that the Nigerian High Commissioner was in attendance in that room, and they promptly took off as if the plague had struck the 5-Star Cafe Royale venue of the sham image laundry world press conference.
Looking back now, to those many years ago and comparing it with the present state of Nigeria; still as undemocratic as ever, in spite of the 13 years, and the four civilian elections that has been conducted, one would be astounded and would be left to wonder if true democracy would ever take place in Nigeria.
Hundreds of men, women, young people and children died on the streets of Ibadan, Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Benin City, Kaiyama and Port Harcourt among others, and some were murdered in their homes.
All of them were mauled down by the bullets fired by the soldiers that were meant to protect them on the orders of Generals Babangida and Abacha. Nigeria lost great people like Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Chief Alfred Rewane and Chief MKO Abiola who was the undeclared winner of the freest, fairest and most attended election in her history.
Today, we still see arbitrariness and impunity. Everywhere you go in Nigeria, in governments (local, state and Federal), the political parties, in business and commerce, the military, academia and in fact, in every walks of the Nigerian life, democracy and justice are dead; power show is what entails. In my native Edo State, a saying has come to stay that “if you are not loyal, you will ‘oya”. Meaning, if you are not loyal, you will suffer - Oya means suffering in most Edo dialects.
Is this the democracy we fought so gallantly for? Is this the tree of freedom these people used their blood to water? Is this why they lost their lives? I dare say NO! what I see as the present Nigeria is lamentable. I am, therefore, using this medium to call on Nigerians everywhere, to stand up and be counted again as defenders of democracy. In any organisation you find yourself, insist on your democratic rights, don’t be fazed by power and its mis-use by those in power . These are the only ways by which June 12 will be meaningful, and the labour of all those who gave their lives so that we can have democracy would not be in vain.
Let me leave you with this saying by Howard Zinn, an American historian:
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” – Howard Zinn.
Ilenbarenemen, Publicity Secretary, ACN, UK Chapter.Share