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Another June 12 election possible in Nigeria, says Osoba

By Seye Olumide
12 June 2018   |   3:00 am
Chief Olusegun Osoba, whose first outing as the governor of Ogun State was during the aborted Third Republic when the June 12, 1993 presidential election was held and annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida and who later joined the vanguard of those fighting for the retrieval of the mandate, spoke on the possibility of having another…

Chief Olusegun Osoba, Former governor of Ogun State

Chief Olusegun Osoba, whose first outing as the governor of Ogun State was during the aborted Third Republic when the June 12, 1993 presidential election was held and annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida and who later joined the vanguard of those fighting for the retrieval of the mandate, spoke on the possibility of having another watershed that the election has become to be known in Nigeria’s political history.

Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day

To me it is the normal thing to do because I happened to be the first civilian governor after we were sworn into office in 1999 to declare June 12 as Democracy Day and also declared it as public holiday in Ogun State and went further to gazette it through the State House of Assembly after which I presented the copy to the family of Chief Abiola on the second anniversary of my tenure in office.

If I did that in my state and the president has found it fit to declare June 12 as Democracy Day for the entire nation, I should thank God that I am alive when President Buhari declared it for the nation.

I accept it whole-heartedly. The family has accepted it and if they did, why should I kick against what those who are immediate family of the late business mogul embraced.

I am a political family of Abiola so I have no choice than to accept it.

Fear that Buhari is only trying to gain cheap popularity ahead of the 2019 general election

Everybody has the right to express his or her opinion but my attitude is that we have all agitated since 1999 that this thing should be done but it was not.

I don’t care if Buhari has done it to score a cheap political point or not. What is important is he has done what we have been clamouring for.

You could recalled that we have had three presidents before Buhari but none of them heeded the call to honour Abiola or declared June 12 as Democracy Day.

Skeptics are free to express their views and we also are free to express ours.

Some are calling for the declaration of June 12 results.

In the first instance, I am not a lawyer but my position is that Humprey Nwosu is no longer the chairman of the electoral commission and as a matter of fact the name of the umpire has changed many times.

On this note I do not think there is any legal standing for Nwosu to come and declare the results. On what basis are they going to declare the result and towards what end.

For instance the GCFR honour bestowed on Abiola posthumously is usually reserved for president, GCON is usually for vice president, the mandate which Nigerians gave Abiola was the one in which Babagana Kingigbe was his running mate.

The consequences of that action is the acceptance of the fact that Abiola was a president that was never sworn in.

Another person who could have been so honoured is late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was also to a large extent in the two elections he contested he won.

In 1983, the election was massively rigged and yet Awolowo results was so high. He was a person late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu referred to as the best president Nigeria never had.

The two of them reached a point of becoming the president of Nigeria but were denied.

The action taken by Buhari is honourable and it is going to lay a foundation for democracy in this country and God knows other structure that would be erected on the foundation.

Lessons of June 12 presidential election

June 12 has unlimited lessons. God gave Abiola an unprecedented courage not to renege on his mandate until he died. It was a great lesson.

God also gave him the wisdom to lay down his life for the citizens of this country; it was another lesson. That is on individual basis.

The lesson of June 12, the efforts and sacrifices made by leaders of numerous leaders of many organisations in and out of Nigeria have not been in vain.

Is option A4 system that was used during the June 12 election still practicable in Nigeria again?

People are mixing up Option A4 with modified secret ballot. There are two types of systems.

The Option A4 was the one put in place by former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, which created four levels.

For example, Abiola had to go to his ward in Gbagura to present himself as the presidential candidate and he was endorsed from there. That is the first level.

I will come back to explain what happened to him at Gbagura. If you fail at the ward level you are out.

At the local government level if you fail you are also out. Abiola scaled through the two levels.

The third was the state where he was also endorsed otherwise if he had failed there he would have dropped out.

The fourth was Jos, where the entire party members across the country accepted him in the primary. That was Option A4.

I understand it because I was part of the system. What we are doing now is the Open Secret ballot.

First we had the Open Ballot where you queued behind the candidate and later we have the Open Secret Ballot that we use now. Accreditation is done where the numbers of those that came to express interest is voting are counted.

Then they vote and the numbers of vote can be less than the numbers of voters accredited but it cannot be more.

So it is the Open Secret Ballot people are referring to as Option A4 that is what we are using but we should wait for the amendment to the Electoral Act, which has now been reinforced by the current National Assembly by saying that anybody who does not transmit the accreditation immediately to the INEC headquarters risks five years jail.

Once the president signs that we are beginning to cleanse the system.

Let me take you back to what happened to Abiola at his ward in Gbagura.
He would have failed there because the people from his ward said they would not vote for him.

The late Alake of Egba land Oba Lipede had to get one of the top people in Gbagura, late Alhaji Adenekan. He held meeting overnight with the Gbagura people and they said yes Abiola tried but he didn’t do enough for them.

The grouse of the Gbagura people was that what the late business mogul did for the rest of the country was so massive compare to what he did for them.

They forgot that it was the massive extension of his goodness to the rest of the country that gave him the presidency. It was a real war before we got them to agree otherwise Abiola would have failed right from his ward.

Possibility of two-party system

I was telling some people now at a dinner that the two-party system created by Babangida was already working. There was never a cross carpeting from SDP to NRC.

In Lagos State, Dr. Wahab Dosunmu and one other person boycotted the senatorial election while Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor, in her strong will said she would stay put while others boycotted and she got some few votes to win the senatorial seat.

Either Dosunmu or the other person would have won the election.

She became the senator but the other contestants who boycotted the exercise never thought of defecting to NRC.

At the governorship level, Femi Agbalajobi and Sarunmi fought themselves to a standstill and at the end of which Yomi Edu was given the mandate and the Lagos electorate did a protest vote by voting for Otedola in the governorship election. Two-party system was working.

Had it been the two party systems was allowed to continue as it were then, Nigeria would have been a different nation by now because the civilian government would have been well entrenched. The system was working.

For instance, if Abiola had not lived up to the people’s expectations he would have been thrown out after his first term because of the way we were going then.

Had it been Babangida did not make the error of annulling the election, the country would have been more stable economically and politically too and even security wise.

Muslim/Muslim tickets

Unless whoever is blind and deaf in the country, I don’t think there can ever be Muslim/Muslim tickets, like we had during the June 12 1993 election again in this nation. It is most unfortunate that the Boko Haram insurgency reared its head.

The issue of the Herdsmen is also another issue. Based on the current happenings in the country, I cannot say Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian tickets can happen again in the country.

Another free, fair and peaceful June 12 election in Nigeria

I am very much optimistic that there could still be a repeat of June 12 1993 election in the country.

I will only plead with Nigerians to try and read the amended Electoral Act. If the President could sign the Act into law there is going to be a fundamental changes in the electoral process.