PMB, MKO, June 12, And Democracy Day: The Wrongheaded Celebration Of A National Tragedy

By Ikenga Chronicles June 7, 2018

PMB, MKO, June 12, And Democracy Day: The Wrongheaded Celebration Of A National Tragedy

–Vitus Ozoke

Whether it is political opportunism or nationalistic instinct and pragmatism, the truth will remain that Buhari’s heart is in the right place in trying to immortalize and memorialize Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola. However, the relationship Nigeria should have with MKO is that of memorial, not celebration. There is nothing about MKO that should be celebratory.

MKO was a tragic hero. Yes, he won a presidential election that was adjudged Nigeria’s freest and fairest since the advent of self-rule, but it was a victory that would not be. Ibrahim Babangida and his cousin Sani Abacha, not only scuttled and annulled that election, but they also murdered MKO Abiola in broad daylight, in plain sight, with a smoking gun, bloody machete, and hundreds of million witnesses, foreign and domestic.

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In that singular act of national betrayal, democracy, in both conceptualization and practice, died in Nigeria. You don’t mark out a day as national day for the celebration of such tragedy. You set out a day as a national day of mourning and memorialization of such a dark day.

For a country that has wished away the darkest blemish in its national epoch; a country that pretends that the Biafran Civil War never happened; and that millions of innocent noncombat Igbo women and children who were systematically slaughtered in an invidiously pogromatic orgy of ethnic cleansing, were mere spectral characters in a thirty-month long nightmarish dream, a memorial, in one form or another, is long overdue.

Weather we want to mourn, immortalize, memorialize, or even celebrate MKO Abiola, the choice of Democracy Day as its philosophical designation is a complete misnomer. We can mark out August 24 as a national holiday in celebration of MKO Abiola’s birthday, just like America celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday as her only individual-centered national holiday. MKO and MLK have one thing in common: they are both tragic heroes.

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Ironically, Buhari’s ill-advised designation of June 12 as Democracy Day, in honor of MKO Abiola, comes after barely two weeks of his boneheaded exaltation of Sani Abacha for his investment in road infrastructure. Sani Abacha was the second worst creature that God ever planted in a Nigerian womb, second only to his cousin Ibrahim Babangida, the ultimate evil himself. It is a total dishonor to seek to honor MKO Abiola just a few days after you have canonized his jailer and murderer as a national icon.

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President Buhari will be paying MKO Abiola the greatest tribute if he reopens inquiry into the annulment of June 12, the thousands of lives lost in the ensuing violence and panic, and the murder of MKO. Why is Ibrahim Babangida still a free man walking the streets of Nigeria? Arrest the bastard, recover the tens of billions of his ill-gotten wealth, and have him spend the rest of his atrocious life in maximum security penitentiary. Redouble efforts in recovering Sani Abacha’s criminally-acquired wealth. You want to honor MKO? Dishonor those who murdered him.

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June 12 is, and should remain, a sad day for Nigerians. MKO Abiola is a tragic hero of June 12. Democracy Day connotes celebration. There is nothing about MKO’s relationship with June 12 that calls for celebration. If you asked me, I would say, scrap Democracy Day. What Nigeria has is civilian rule. We are zillion miles away from democracy. But if you must continue the illusion and delusion of Democracy Day, leave it the way it is. Allow undiscerning Nigerians the self-masturbatory comfort and delusion of democracy.

But at some point, Nigeria must deal with its sinful past. Nigerians have not properly processed the grief of its painful past. There is no proper national memorial for the civil war. We just glossed it over and swept it under the carpet where the stink oozes out in episodic stenches of violence. Where is the Civil War museum? Do we have a Memorial Day when we remember and honor the memories of those who served in our armed forces? Do we even have a Veteran’s program? Just what do we have as a national reminder of our difficult past?

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Everything can’t just be celebrated. It is okay to mourn. June 12 is a day of mourning. MKO’s death, in the manner it occurred, calls for eternal mourning, not celebration. Is President Buhari playing politics with the memory of MKO, as has been suggested in some quarters? I don’t know. But what I do know is that he is not being smart about it.

Rest on, MKO!