Fun Facts About June 12
June 12 is not just another calendar day in Nigeria; in progressive ideological circles, today is regarded as the authentic ‘Democracy Day’ as against the ‘May 29’ date popularly celebrated by the Federal Government.
Here are five important facts you need to know about the date.
- The date is celebrated in honour of an annulled presidential election: That may sound strange to foreigners or young people without a knowledge of Nigerian history but the truth is ‘June 12’ is a celebration of an election won by the late chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, born August 24, 1937, of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on June 12, 1993. The results of the election were however annulled, a decision that plunged Nigeria into crisis.
- Before Barack Obama, there was MKO Abiola with a ‘Hope’ campaign: Many people may have first really paid attention to the word ‘Hope’ being used to convey a message of possibility during Obama’s 2008 election in America, but 15 years before then in Africa’s most populous nation, MKO Abiola became a rallying figure for many Nigerians with his ‘Hope’ campaign.
- June 12 marked the beginning for most of Nigeria’s present-day ‘progressive politicians’: There are certain politicians in Nigeria today who identify as progressives after the fashion of the late Western Nigeria premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The truth however is that many of them were too young in Awo’s active political days to be his students. They really and truly joined the ‘progressive’ cause when the need arose to galvanise the people to protest the annulment of Abiola’s election as Nigeria’s president.
- MKO Abiola died for the June 12 mandate but he was not the only June 12 casualty: General Sani Abacha died in mysterious circumstances on June 8, 1998 with the generally acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 elections, MKO Abiola still in detention. Abacha had been planning to become a civilian president, perhaps for life, and with his death, all Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief and believed the new Head of State, Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar would release MKO and make him president.
- The election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, because of alleged evidence that they were corrupt and unfair, a development that ushered in a political crisis that led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year.