…A story of the Jos Convention, June 12 election and the Democracy Day

The 1993 build-up to the SDP convention in Jos, was one of the most historic political events i ever witnessed. As a young and politically savvy undergraduate of the University of Jos, It was a quintessential foray into the high-wired nigerian politics.

The whole of Jos; the tin city was a beehive of huge political rally contesting for road space with vehicular movement and human traffic.

Right from terminus-the central interstate bus park to the Jos township stadium, supporters of the three main contenders to the post of the presidential candidacy of the Social Democratic Party, were in a near noise contest.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s supporters were chanting loudest with a plaque inscription of SAI Baba; sai Atiku. Those of Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe came with their drums and kakaki and the late Moshood Abiola popularly known as MKO’s including my humble self in a motely crowd with student leaders like Mo Kazeem, Yekinni Ajeigbe, Asiwaju Dada and a host of other die-hard supporters wearing the Eyo masquerade costumes were dancing to the drumming of the brigade band.

I was young, excited and happy.

Truth to the Yoruba maxim that says, “Egungun to koko jo, iran ni yi wo gbeyin”. The first dancing masquerade, would soon become a spectator. We reached for the roof with our own Eyo songs and danced to the delight of the SDP delegates.

The atmosphere was charge, the feeling was eclectic, and we chanted… ‘MKOoo, is our man ooo.’

MKO’s entry into the convention ground itself was not without drama and character. It took nearly two hours for him to make his way down the 50-metre distance from the gate to his seat in the terrace. It was crazy. The car was literally at stand still, and the horse he later mounted required a combined effort of his personal security and the police to pass through.

There were stories of Kingibe inducing delegates with material gifts for vote in contravention to the directive of IBB who threatened to disqualify candidates and nullify the whole electoral process.

In fact, Atiku was also alleged to be doing same at the residence of Ambassador Kwande’s residence on Bauchi road, next to the Unijos Staff Quaters. Words got to Abiola, who said “Kingibe ke?, Kingibe ko ni owo Kola”. Kingibe is not as rich as Kola.

Some delegates were later ferried from Jos to Amdala hotel in Bauchi on behalf of MKO. A distance of one hour. At the end of the first round of the primary election, there was no clear winner and Atiku was advised by his mentor Musa Yardua to align with MKO.

Hence his delegates voted MKO in the later rounds and this led to the MKO’s victory against Kingibe who turned out a very formidable opponent. We were treated to fresh wonderloaf bread, fried egg and tomato sauce.

The bread was flown in from Lagos to Abiola’s personal house in Rayfield, Jos.

Also on ground to treat us to an all-night music was, the legendary Sir Shina Peters. We danced Afro juju all night. And the next day, we woke up to the news of MKO’s Victory. It was a sweet victory that gladdens the heart. The collaboration of MKO and Kingibe was inevitable and this later made positive impact to the outcome of this Muslim-Muslim Ticket in June 12, 1993.

The annulment by the evil genius of the June 12, 1993 election was the saddest moment in my human existence. I could not believe when words filtered out that IBB had cancelled a very free and fair election in which MKO was on the way to winning. Impossible! we thought. And when it dawned, we trooped out into the street of Lagos to protest the injustice.

We barricaded Ikorodu road from Jibowu to Yaba and petrol-bombed the police and army patrols. It was like a war scenario. I argued with Iya Gani (my mom), who prevailed on me to desist from joining the protest.

I felt we will be vindicated but listened to her at about the third day of our active violent protest. Just as she had warned, we lost two of my neighbour’s. The young men died unsung at Fadeyi and Onipanu bus stops on Ikorodu road, Lagos to bullets allegedly fired by the Nigeran soldiers.

The army had responded with military despatch- raining live bullets and killing hundreds of protesters in the rage that followed the cancellation of the high-energy sapping June 12, 1993 election. The rest is now history.

When PMB honoured MKO and declared June 12 a national holiday in May 2018, I felt vindicated that all of our effort in the actualisation of the free mandate given to MKO was not in vain after all. I thank you Buhari and believed that, regardless of the distance travelled by the lie, the truth would always catch up.

The letter writer that ignored June 12 but benefitted is most likely feeling depressed and dejected now. He had an opportunity but declined to do the needful.

Like Oliver Twist, I would request the Buhari government to mandate INEC to declare the outstanding result of the June 12, 1993 election as a symbolic restitution to the Nigerian people who voted and wanted results.

But, whatever, I will still thank President Muhammadu Buhari. You’ve done well sir by righting some of the wrongs and for standing with the truth.

You are indeed a patriot.