IBB says he deserves credit for annulling Nigeria's freest and fairest election. What he deserves is pity.
And he can’t understand why Nigerians haven’t found a place in their hearts to forgive him after all these years.
The ghost of June 12 still haunts IBB and that’s something everyone with a conscience shouldn’t be complaining about.
That election annulled by IBB was presumably won by the late Chief MKO Abiola. The cancellation of the vote by IBB culminated in Abiola’s death behind bars five years later.
“When I read about June 12, I think about it”, IBB told his interviewer on ChannelsTV with a chuckle. “People say he cancelled the freest election and nobody gives me credit for conducting the freest. He cancelled the best and the freest elections in the history of this country, but he annulled it”.
IBB seriously wants credit for cancelling an election he conducted? Seriously?
“We tried to rationalize why we did what we did, but nobody is prepared to listen to us”, he adds. “So, it’s a matter of time. One day, the younger generation who will be coming up to read will say, Ok, we have heard this side, let’s hear the other side. Maybe we can have a better society.”
IBB says he still believes “people don’t get what we were trying to put across”.
He also wonders why no one ever asks why he would inflict the maximum damage on his friend, Abiola. “Nobody has ever sat down to say, Ok, the two personalities are friends. What went wrong? I have never seen anybody writing anything on this; to try to give people a different version. He (Abiola) knew my feelings. I knew his feelings about the country generally because we do talk about Nigeria with the ‘presumed’ winner of the 'truly democratic freest election'.
“We talked about it during the crisis itself. Despite all that, two of us understood ourselves very well. The level of friendship is so strong that we value our relationship very much. But like I said, typical Nigerian if you try to educate them, it sounds boring or if you try to reason….”
IBB also said he won’t write an autobiography because no one will read it. “I don’t know….people may not read it because it’s coming from a dictator. A lot will say dictator..yeah, he cancelled June 12…and that will kill everything about the book”, IBB said.
Watching IBB, it struck me that he still doesn’t realise how much damage he cost Nigeria by that act of annulling an election that saw people voting across religious and ethnic lines.
It was a moment in Nigeria’s history where it didn’t matter that both candidates on the ballot (Bashir Tofa and Abiola) were both Muslims. Nigerians just wanted their votes to count and they poured out to the polling units to ensure their votes counted.
And it did count.
With MKO in an unassailable lead, IBB pulled the rug from under the nation’s feet and declared the election null and void. Crisis thereafter erupted across Nigeria and lives were lost. Pro-democracy activists were hounded by the military junta and most were felled by bullets. Others were flung into jail and many fled Nigeria’s shores.
All because of IBB.
All because of IBB, his “best friend”, Abiola, died in custody. Abiola's wife, Kudirat was felled by an assassin's bullet as she fought for the realisation of the June 12 mandate. And IBB still sees nothing wrong with what he did?
As I watched the interview, I saw an IBB who is still not remorseful and who showed no contrition whatsoever. The cancellation of the June 12 vote set Nigeria several years backward.
This interview—since he rarely grants one—was an opportunity for an IBB mea culpa for all he caused Nigeria before and after 1993. But there he sat, unapologetic and arrogant, rationalizing his part in Nigeria’s tainted past and doing his horrible best to rewrite recent history.
These days, he even finds the time to write letters where he preaches and pontificates on good governance. Oh, the hypocrisy! The galling hypocrisy!!
But you could also see the fear on IBB’s face through the denial. It has dawned on the man that Nigerians will never forget his part in ruining their lives and country. He knows that Nigerians remember that he institutionalized corruption and ruled their country with an iron fist.
He calls himself a dictator in this interview because he was one and he knows no one would read his book because it would be a book steeped in revisionism--the only way Maradona knows how.
IBB insults the nation when he tries to rationalize the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. What Nigerians should do is ignore him henceforth and steadfastly set about the task of rebuilding a country IBB and his ilk ruined.