THE DAWN OF DEMOCRACY: A Personal Reflection on June 12,1993 | By Abiodun Omotosho (BABANCHI)  - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
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The morning of Saturday, June 12, 1993 dawned like a radiant bride, adorned in the vibrant attire of promise and possibility. The sun rose with a hopeful smile, casting a warm glow over the landscape of Nigerian dreams. The air was filled with the sweet fragrance of anticipation, like the scent of blooming flowers that hinted at a brighter future. The sky was a brilliant blue, a canvas of endless potential, waiting to be painted with the vibrant colours of democracy and freedom.

In this tranquil scene, animals roamed calmly, their gentle footsteps a soothing serenade to the dawn. Birds took to the sky, their graceful flight a beautiful ballet, as if they too were waiting for the fresh air of democracy to fill their wings. The trees stood tall, their leaves rustling softly in the breeze, like a chorus of whispers urging the nation forward. The world was awakening, like a sleeping giant, ready to shake off the slumber of oppression and rise to its feet. The morning of June 12, 1993 was a symphony of hope, a chorus of voices singing in harmony, a new dawn that promised to usher in a brighter era for Nigeria.

With three pieces of twenty naira notes securely in my pocket, I embarked on the short journey to my polling unit, eager to exercise my civic responsibility and make my voice heard in the democratic process, after a quick refreshing bath and a light food to energise me for the momentous task ahead.

Finally, after a brief wait at the polling unit, I seized the chance to exercise my franchise through Option A4 for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), proudly voting for Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale(MKO) Abiola, the charismatic Presidential Candidate who embodied the hopes and dreams of a nation yearning for democratic governance and a brighter future.

For the purpose of the younger generation, Option A4 was a method of voting used in Nigeria’s 1993 presidential election. It was a unique and transparent system where voters openly showed their support for their preferred candidate by queuing behind their poster or logo at the polling station. The length of the queue determined the winner.

The June 12 election and the Option A4 system remain an important part of Nigeria’s democratic history, symbolising the country’s struggle for democracy and free elections. The legacy of Option A4 continues to inspire calls for electoral reform and democratic governance in Nigeria.

As the day drew to a close, we reluctantly bid each other farewell and dispersed to our respective abodes, my hearts filled with anticipation and my minds racing with expectations, many of us having already predicted a resounding victory for Chief MKO Abiola and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), our hopes and dreams hanging precariously in the balance as we awaited the outcome of the election. I was glued to my radio, eagerly listening as the election results trickled in state by state. The excitement in the air was palpable, and I could feel the weight of history being written. But then, without warning, the radio went silent. I thought it was just a temporary disruption, a minor glitch that would soon be resolved. But as the minutes ticked by, my anticipation turned to anxiety. And then, the unthinkable happened. *The results were annulled.*

I remember rushing to my dictionary, desperate to understand the meaning of this unfamiliar word. As I flipped through the pages, my heart sank. *Annulled* : *cancelled* , *invalidated* . The words seemed to stare back at me, taunting me with their finality. In that moment, I knew that our hopes and dreams had been shattered. The election, the promise of democracy, the future we had envisioned – all cancelled, all made invalid. It was a turning point, a moment that marked the beginning of a new chapter in our struggle for freedom.

The annulment of the election results inevitably sparked widespread outrage and protests, as various groups, students’ unions, and workers took to the streets, demanding a reversal of the decision. The country was plunged into chaos and turmoil, with industrial actions and demonstrations erupting across the nation, marking a tumultuous and pivotal moment in Nigeria’s history, one that would have a lasting impact on the country and its people.

Following a long wait for a miraculous resolution, Chief MKO Abiola, upon his return from exile, took a bold and defiant step on June 11,1994, declaring himself the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces at Epetedo, Lagos State, in a speech popularly known as *Epetedo Declaration* or *Enough is Enough* , a move that was met with both hope and trepidation by the Nigerian people, who had grown weary of the political impasse and were yearning for a leader to take charge and restore democracy to the nation.

Chief Abiola’s courageous declaration of himself as President was met with swift and severe consequences, as he was promptly arrested by General Sanni Abacha, the then Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on June 23, 1994. Tragically, Abiola’s defiance was ultimately silenced when he died in detention on July 7, 1998, a martyr to the cause of democracy and freedom. His passing marked the end of an era, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who dared to challenge the status quo and fight for a better future for Nigeria.

As we commemorate June 12, Democracy Day, I urge those who have inherited the democratic legacy that Chief Abiola fought and died for to prioritise the welfare and interests of the masses. By doing so, they will honour Abiola’s sacrifice and ensure that his spirit continues to inspire and guide us towards a brighter future for all Nigerians.

May his soul continue to rest in peace, knowing that his dream of a better Nigeria is being realised.

Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!

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