The True Spirit of June 12

By Faith Berewa

It didn’t really come as a surprise right? That it was EVEN contemplated and became a subject of public discourse exposed the dangerous trajectory the nation is headed. And, it was discussed with the President, BEFORE IT WAS HONKERED down the throats of Nigerians exposes the extent national unity and cohesion can be sacrificed on the altar of Personal AMBITION. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu just announced the immediate past governor of Bornu State, Kassim Shettima as his running mate in next year’s Presidential elections.

The ruling APC has a notorious penchant for setting dangerous precedents. Remember 2015, in the battle for the Speaker of the House of Representatives? The APCs preferred candidate was not just from the same region, but the same State with the vice president. But, nothing do them. I remember the eventual elected Speaker saying that for equitable distribution of posts, the House has abided by zoning since the return to democratic rule in 1999 in consideration of the peculiarities of the Nigerian State. But not so the ruling APC. In 2019, the leadership of the party had its way—not minding its impact on geo-religious fixtures of the Country- so there emerged a muslim president from the north, a Christian vice president from the southwest, a muslim senate president from the north, a Muslim speaker from the same region and state as the vice president, the south west, an SGF from the north east, a Christian. There was the Supreme Court justice debacle where the Chief Justice of the Federation was hounded out of office and removed under what may be considered  controversial circumstances and replaced by the next in line who, yes, a Muslim from the north east! So the top four of five jobs in the country were held by Muslims! Add the critical security architecture- virtually all headed by northerners. This is the signature of the APC. So for Asiwaju to pick a fellow Muslim as his running mate with such callous indifference to the core values of  what has held this country together speaks volumes about him and those that have egged him on into taking such a decision. Not even during the unconstitutional dictatorship of military rule was the balance of power so skewed in one direction nor the principle of federal character blatantly disregarded.

Maybe we need to remind ourselves that APC’s affinity with unfairness has always led them into errors in grand styles. How could they have gotten it so wrong by giving the presidential ticket to a muslim from the south to represent the South in the presidency? Will the muslim North ever allow northern presidency to be given to a northern Christian? Maybe one day. These are truths that may be uncomfortable. The rotation arrangement is not just a regional and tribal issues, it is also a religious issue. Imagine, for the next 16 years a Christian president cannot occupy the Aso Villa? This is because if APC can have their way, after eight years of Tinubu, it will be the turn of the North, which will definitely be a muslim. I really want us and our muslim brethren to look into this national political error and see that a few selfish individuals are leading us away from the true democracy we all fought for.  Muslim – muslim presidency is a gross misrepresentation of Nigeria, nothing to do with June 12 and therefore should not allowed to come to fruition for national cohesion.  This is my position.

In 1993, Nigerians embraced Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim running mate, Baba Gana Kinigbe in one of our freest and fairest elections ever held. “The spirit of 1993 is upon us again” said Tinubu,

My reply? “This is not 1993”. How can anyone compare Nigeria of 1993 to the present day Nigeria? We were united in one spirit to eradicate military dictatorship as against the present division along religious and tribal lines, which have been exacerbated by this present regime’s insensitive biases. The sad truth is that ethno-religious identity has taken center stage in our individual identity and national politics.   As I have stated before, the soul of the nation was lost in 1993. The injustice June 12 depicted was a focal and rallying theme for the installation of a free democratic rule and what it represents- fairness, justice, equity, inclusion and a prosperous society.

 APC’s Muslim- Muslim candidacy is an anathema to the ideals of June 12 and an unfair treatment of the Christian faith.  Because of the acknowledgement of the injustice done to the Yoruba race- even though millions of non-Yorubas voted for Chief MKO Abiola, the two main contenders for the 1999 presidential race were of Yoruba extraction! A deliberate attempt to right a wrong even though the wrong was done against all Nigerians, and not just a tribe. This is the true Spirit of June 12. So why should it be now different? Why shouldn’t justice and fairness prevail 30 years later? The aftermath of the annulment of the June 12 elections was a battle for the soul of a Nigeria where everyone has an equal stake and an equal sense of belonging, irrespective of age, gender, religious affiliations, tribe, social status, but sadly has turned 180 degrees in the fight for those values since 1999, predicated on personal ambitions more blatant since the advent of this administration which he (TINUBU) vociferously fought to install.  So, invoking June 12 in this manner to further his aim is abusing the sensibilities of Nigerians.

As for the argument that Muslims in the north will not vote for him, I want to ask this question. Is Tinubu not Muslim enough? Does his faith have to be validated by a Muslim from the north? Ideally, identity politics shouldn’t define our preferences in political leadership. But ours is not the ideal, it is not the normal.

 Nigeria has never been so divided along ethno – religious positions.

This dimension Tinubu and the APC has taken will further fuel ethnic and religious tensions, erode trust, deepen animosity and create further divisions against the Spirit of June 12.

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