From Austine Tule, Makurdi
The 1993 presidential elections otherwise known as June 12 has been described as the true test of Nigeria’s democracy, Hon Sunday Ogoh, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Benue State has declared.
The APC chieftain who spoke to The AUTHORITY in his Makurdi residence exclusively while reacting to the Tuesday post-humous award by President Muhammadu Buhari on the acclaimed winner of the elections Chief MKO Abiola and other heroes of the June 12 struggle said the honour was well deserved because for the very first time, Nigerians voted based on their convictions devoid of any sentiments.
Ogoh who is the Director-General, Peter Ochiba for House of Representatives Campaign Organisation for Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency in Benue State expressed happiness that at last, these efforts by Abiola and other lovers of democracy were been given their rightful place in the political history of the country saying the action was going to deepen the democratic process and also heal wounds in the polity.
”June 12 was the very foundation upon which the democratic process rested, many lessons were learnt from that era one, what happened opened our eyes to the fact integrity and merit were the guiding principles upon which the people of Nigeria elected their leaders and the acclaimed winner opened our eyes again by showing us that the power of the people could be stronger than the bullet.
”June 12 opened the flood gate of what we are enjoying to today but sadly, our politics has not really taken after the shape of what we saw during that time which is tolerance for one another religious and other consideration not withstanding but I do hope we will get there someday”
On why President Buhari honoured Abiola in one breath and eulogised his tormentor Gen Sani Abacha on the other as alluded to by Prof Wole Soyinka, the DG said most of the actions taken by Abacha regarding his handling of the June 12 issue were fuelled by some elites who never wanted Abiola as president for reasons best known to them.
”I want to draw your attention to a book written by Prof Omo Omoruyi, who in the book gave credence to the fact that the elites at the time were largely responsible for the refusal of Gen Abacha to declare the results of that elections believed to have been won by Chief Abiola, am not holding forth for the president but I would rather refer you to the book for details of some of the issues that played out during that time.”
On the chances of his principal emerging victorious at the polls, the APC stalwart expressed optimism pointing out that going by the level of acceptability Hon Ochiba has gained in the area, it was evidently clear that the people were set to stand behind him.
Though we are strongly favoured by zoning, I do not totally believe in this philosophy of zoning because it breeds nonentities and I would rather advice that we base our selection process or yardstick on the quality of the aspirants based on their track records of achievements other that hiding under the canopy of zoning which in most cases has not really given us what we had yearned for.”