Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Nigeria: Definitely time to give June 12 a decent burial

Making history history

On June 12 2011, I wrote a piece titled Nigeria: Time to give June 12 a decent burial [1] for a number of reasons which already appear in that piece.

Basically, June 12 1993 is an important date in Nigerian history, it presented the opportunity for democratic self-determination but the military junta of that time made the promise unrealisable by annulling those elections.

In essence, the simple analogy that applies is the case of a medical student who came tops in every year of the course but failed for graduate – for all the knowledge that student might have acquired and demonstrated throughout that course that person is NOT a doctor.

Take the lessons but don’t live there

In the same vein, whilst June 12 was a watershed, a standard for what we all agree until the very recent past were the freest, fairest and most credible elections ever conducted in Nigeria, the fact that the results did not result in the winner of the election taking office because of the annulment makes it an unfulfilled exercise in democracy.

There is no doubt that there are lessons of history to be taken from June 12 and it probably sowed some seeds of national consciousness in Nigerians but 18 years have passed and Nigeria is in a different place.

In discussions that followed that write-up the opinions I expressed were termed revisionist and sometimes false. However, none of the assertions I made were without attribution and sources, the standard of my writing is such that corroboration and references are paramount.

A sloppy rebuttal

It is grating that the rebuttal to my piece Guest Post – June 12: Why Bury the Living Among The Dead? [2]fails to meet that standard none of the figures used are referenced, neither are the opinions corroborated and it is for all the intents of the writer more argumentum ad hominem than one that rises to the level of basic scholarly discourse albeit an ordinary opinion piece lacking the support of source material.

I owe no particular allegiance to either June 12 1993 or April 16 2011, the principal beneficiary of the 1993 election is long dead and buried with a memory approaching hagiographic proportions in the minds of certain Nigerians – I am not that persuaded.

In my view, the events and context of June 12 1993 should be taught as part of Nigerian history, it does not need to be hallowed and the needs for reparation or justice in relation to that time are matters of conjecture that honestly bear no relevance to Nigeria of today because a lot has changed since then.

Between 1993 and now

The Nigerian population in 1991 [3] was 88,992,220 the 2010 estimate [4] is put at 158,259,000, in 1993 an estimated 39,000,000 voters registered [5] compared to 73, 528,040 in 2011 [6].

In my original piece I referred to some data in an interview conducted with Professor Okon Uya who averred that the voter turnout was 13% [7] taking the spectre of credibility from the 1993 elections. I extrapolated that view to assert that even the lowest turnout in Ogun State of 28% in 2011 made the 1993 elections suspect.

On examination of new data, Professor Okon Uya was wrong about the voter turnout being 13% in 1993, the data suggests that the voter turnout [5] was 36.65%; however, the voter turnout for the 2011 elections according to INEC figures was 53.67%.

The context still remains valid

In my opinion, based on these new facts we find that the main thrust of my original argument is not lost, only made less extreme in its significance. Apart from the standards of freeness and fairness, voter turnout is also an attribute of election credibility and by that; we can safely state that the 2011 elections have eclipsed the 1993 elections.

The 2011 elections were not perfect, everyone will admit to that and some of the results are in dispute but the declared winners of the said elections have assumed office and will work in that capacity drawing their requisite emoluments until such a time that those election results are reaffirmed, overturned or declared invalid.

Nigeria is not waiting for that to happen even as justice takes its course, the lay of the land in Nigeria today is for the advancement of its people and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other visionary plans the people who hold the reins of power have espoused.

Nigeria has moved on

June 12, 1993 has its significance to the many who give it some hagiographic importance but Nigeria has a median age [8] of 19 years meaning the core majority of Nigerians will have no particular connection with 1993 apart from them gaining a historical perspective of that event.

As things stand, we are in 2011, the best elections with a result we have ever conducted in all of the history of Nigeria taking note of the medical student analogy I used at the beginning of this piece was the election conducted on the 16th of April, 2011, regardless of who won and despite the fact that the greater animosity to that election is one redolent of sore losers than other objective assessment.

My views of June 12 are hardly revisionist rather they aim to put two different times in context whilst appreciating how Nigeria has changed 18 years on, my refusal to idolise, eulogise or be sentimentally incapacitated with the subjective discourse making for some sense of greater patriotic persuasion is clear – 1993 is now history.

It is time to give June 12 a decent burial and get on with making Nigeria a country fit to take its rightful place in the 21st Century.

Sources

[1] Nigeria: Time to give June 12 a decent burial

[2] Guest Post – June 12: Why Bury the Living Among The Dead?

[3] Table 1.3.2 - Numeric and percentage Distribution of the 1991 Census Figures

[4] Nigerian Population estimate for 2010

[5] African Elections Database – Elections in Nigeria

[6] April 16 2011 Presidential Election Results Analysis

[7] The Sun News On-line | Every election since 1922 has been manipulated –Okon Uya, ex-NECON boss

[8] Demographics of Nigeria – Wikipedia

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