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The Hidden Truth About June 12

4 Mins read

June 12 — the brazen cancellation of the 12 June 1993 presidential election — was simple, if serious, electoral crime, which craved a simple, if hefty, resolution.

MKO Abiola won the election. Ibrahim Babangida cancelled the result. The crime was simple. The time ought to be ample.

But then came elite manoeuvres, playing dangerous regional and ethnic cards. The result was avoidable crisis that shook Nigeria to its roots.

From that simple crime, the elite, all round, fed fat.

Somehow, IBB broadened self and cronies’ waywardness into a “northern” plot. Still, no one could finger any northern plebiscite, mandating that costly act.

Among the Yoruba, Olusegun Obasanjo’s cunning first drove him to the nadir of Abacha’s gulag. Then, to the zenith of the Nigerian state, as elected president — both from elite manipulations of that same June 12.

Egba Chief, Ernest Shonekan, was quite earnest, glorying as Interim President, while MKO, his Egba kinsman and rightful claimant to that tenured office, would die in limbo.

Poor Shonekan! Once the toast of military-era policies, became the scorn of annulment-era politics — at least in his outraged, native South West!

In the South East, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, at the onset of the Sani Abacha madness, prattled his Abacha Constitutional Conference “mandate” trumped MKO’s.

Okwesilieze Nwodo, then Enugu governor, swore he would hit voluntary exile, should MKO’s mandate be restored — aside from pushing the bogey of another civil war!

Indeed, an age of elite brutal opportunism, if ever there was one! Yet, all issued from a clear crime, which a right-thinking elite should have promptly — and justly — resolved!

That’s the Nigerian elite. On that, no part of Nigeria can claim sainthood!

Still, remember the “All of You” stunt the selfish tortoise pulled in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? Tortoise’s neighbours had kitted him with wings to fly to his in-laws’ bash, in the skies.

But on getting there, tortoise declared he was “All of You”: meaning he cornered all of the lollies! Needless to say: his piqued benefactors stripped him of borrowed wings, and sent him scuttling down the skies and crashing down to earth!

In four days, the June 12 watershed would clock 28 years. But the “All of You”, in the Nigerian elite, appears much worsened, particularly in this high winter of dissent.

So, the starry-eyed, beware! You might just end up cannon fodders, in others’ selfish battles! Even the most sincere-sounding of minds is not beyond cant!

Our own WS, in his latest work, Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth, calls it the “professionals of emotive trafficking”!

Take the latest Twitter uproar. The media, in uncritical ideological crow, decree it “assault on free speech!” So, does the political opposition, to gain sensational mileage. So does too, the embattled Twitter itself, posturing as battered but unbowed global champion of free speech.

But really? If Twitter was so enamoured of “free speech”, why did it clang off Donald Trump — who ironically, till tomorrow is still shrieking “free speech!” — after the US Capitol invasion of January 6? Perhaps free speech, that threatened to burn America’s democracy, is handshake that shoots beyond the elbow?

So, if the same “free speech”, via Twitter, wilfully pours fire on Nigeria, and fuels the slaughter of innocent souls in the South East, and threatens Nigeria’s democracy with anarchy, how’s the situation different from America’s January 6 experience?

Yes: Twitter shut down Donald Trump but an irate Nigerian government shut down Twitter — true.

But isn’t the core motive the same: preventing lunatics from razing their respective homesteads? Twitter, its American business bastion, from where it creams off billions of dollars, globally? And Nigeria, which government has a legal and sacred duty to its populace, despite reckless and subversive tweets from Twitter?

The sententious Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State, has declared moving against Twitter is moving against the livelihood of the Nigerian “youth” — not untrue. But would the wise governor rather have both his beloved youth and Twitter businesses perish, in the very blaze Twitter itself lit?

Talk of “professionals of emotive trafficking” and their one-sided posturing!

Those who canonize Twitter the fiery arch-angel of global free speech are entitled to their fancy. But that gadget is more interested in gobbling up billions of dollars, from its global captive market, bewitched into an eternal buzz of sense and nonsense!

That was why, even in America, the high shrine of free speech and global cathedral of democracy, Twitter conked Trump before Trump conked its business — free speech be damned!

Which is why, in Nigeria — or any sane country — Twitter can’t be the Almighty Lord of the Flies (apologies to Nobellist William Golding), which must be appeased with citizens’ blood, on the reckless altar of free speech!

Think the likes of Libya and Syria, caught in the cross-current of the so-called Arab Spring, lit by these same foreign gadgetry! The doom after, Libya and Syria are in ashes. But the archangels of “free speech” have moved on!

Between Nigeria and Twitter, therefore, it’s a clash of interests. Beyond the seductive humbug of “free speech”, Twitter has a right to drive its business. But that right can’t ride roughshod over the Nigerian government’s right, within the laws of the land, to govern in peace and protect its people.

That willy-nilly arrogance was what Twitter courted, by failing to moderate the anarchic tweets, from its end. No responsible government would tolerate that.
But the suspension (and hopefully its early resolution) calls for a new beginning, in which both sides realize — and respect — their limits, in a symbiotic relationship that could be win-win. It’s not who wins or who loses. It’s rather a call to common sense.

But the suspension (and hopefully its early resolution) calls for a new beginning, in which both sides realize — and respect — their limits, in a symbiotic relationship that could be win-win. It’s not who wins or who loses. It’s rather a call to common sense.

The same Nigerian elite that feasted on June 12 and baited catastrophe, now abuse the use of Twitter, putting their compatriots in harm’s way, because of current challenges.

The pitch, pathos and bathos of English Romantic poetry issued from laments: the Industrial Revolution laying Nature bare! Yet, demonized Nurture back then, has greatly enhanced human living now.

Nigeria today goes through current throes because some “All of You” gluttons had gobbled up the people’s future. Efforts to block these parasites have earned the Buhari government a fearsome elite tar, which the naive masses — poor, manipulable souls! — only amplify.

Twitter — and allied social media tools — are in the thick of that dark campaign.

Twitter has its normative good. But its misuse is outright evil. Mouthing “free speech” can’t fob off that danger.

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