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Soyinka urges finality on Abiola’s June 12 victory

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Wole Soyinka

More reactions have continued to trail the June 6th declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari, of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day in commemoration of the 1993 presidential election that was annulled by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida as Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka urged Buhari to place the controversial poll in proper perspective.

Shortly after Soyinka’s speech at the Aso Villa ceremony on June 12 where the late undeclared winner of the poll, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola was honoured with the award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), Soyinka issued another statement where he described the circumstances surrounding the annulment as “sheer lust for unchallenged power and total domination of the national environment.”

The don began the statement on a sad note describing the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections as a negative watershed in the country’s history that opened the floodgates of distrust and the consequences of which, sometimes in directions that are still in denial, have remained to plague the nation.

According to him, the, memory was unbearable for many people.

He stated that it was a trauma of the consequent season of unprecedented inhumanity, occasioned by sheer lust for unchallenged power and total domination of the national environment.

“These are individuals who walk among us, with scars of horrendous torture, others whose lives remain permanently disrupted, and yet several more who have been pauperized beyond recovery.

“Some can never eradicate the ordeal of being compelled to witness the torture and dehumanization of their relations, forced to watch, in order to force them to incriminate themselves or others, confess to deeds, and/or sympathies to which they were complete strangers.”

However the address took another tone when Soyinka began to relate the past with the event of the national honor bestowed on Abiola.

He stated that the national recognition was at its most intense during the tenure of the primary beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice, one to whom the very name of that political martyr was anathema.

“I refer to the hosting of the All-Africa Games, COJA, for which I was then Cultural Consultant for the opening ceremonies.

In his lifetime, Moshood Abiola, a man of many parts, many interests, and multiple personifications, was recognized across the continent and outside for his passion, his moral and material generosity to the sporting arena.”

Soyinka said the word ‘presumed’ winner for Abiola deserves a special attention saying it goes to the heart of a depressing career of denial.

“How did that word “presumed” as in the expression “presumed winner” of an election, creep into the official communiqué? That seeming trivia goes beyond semantics.

I was on my way to Brazil when pressure for my presence here today commenced and became overpowering by its very logicality.

I did not do an about turn, aborting a prior engagement, in order to participate in a ritual of presumptions.”

Soyinka said the insertion is what must be deemed “presumptuous”, even contemptuous of reality.

He insisted that Abiola was, and remains the acclaimed, not presumed winner of the Nigerian June 12 1993 democratic elections, adding that it was an event that manifested the collective and disciplined will of the Nigerian people in a most unambiguous manner.

“Let me testify, I was actually in Europe, at a conference, at the same time as the then Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyoku. We shared the same hotel.

As the results were being formally collated, posted and released, he continued to share them with me.

There was no ambiguity about who was headed for outright victory – and so it proved!

“Despite the last-minute efforts to terminate the process, the voting proceeded and was concluded.

A clear winner emerged, without presumption or contestation.

Even his opponent openly conceded defeat – that is, until he was pressured to backtrack and challenge those results by those whose interests lay outside any known democratic impulsion.

“I call on the media to ensure that that word “presumed” is blotted out permanently, in any existing and future dispatches.

I therefore echo the call of legislators to have those results fully published, so as to lay the ghost of that presumptive qualifier.

“Dictators are free to annul the succession of day and night, the succession of drought and rains, but no mortal power, either in this world or in any other human habitation, can annul the truth of that election.”

He added it was that truth that gave Abiola the courage to emerge and re-present himself to the people in the famous declaration of Epetedo.

Soyinka who commended President Buhari for the honor adds that it would always be remembered that he confronted the spectre of negative memory and offered the nation a glimpse of potential of healing.


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MKO AbiolaWole Soyinka
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