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June 12 ethos and Kola Abiola’s Tribe Naija app

Victor Ikhatalor, a Human Rights Defender and Good Governance Advocate, writes about the recently launched Tribe Naija app (in Nigeria):

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Tribe Naija app

Nigeria remains an orphaned child! She was conceived and borne by parents (British colonialists) who named her and gave her up for adoption rather as a fait accompli, to step-parents( Nigerian nationalities) who did not really know what to do with her.

At her (Nigeria) birth, the prognosis was that she was born great – blessedly endowed as she was in multiple aspects. Alas, her adopted parents have never wholly accepted her as theirs, forever cleaving to primordial leanings. Her life’s story from infancy until now, has seen her burdened by the taint of “bastard”.

Unloved and unprotected, she has been serially assaulted and plundered by those who ought be her guardians!

On June 12, 1993, the stars aligned, providence beckoned and there was a unique chance presented to change the Nigerian narrative. To once and for all, put into past tense, the above stated contextualization of “Nigeria”. Sadly, that opportunity was missed and the fleeting “chance” gone with the wind. Assaulted and plundered unremittedly, she(Nigeria) is now out of breath and at death’s door!

The torch bearer of June 12, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, was an uncommon man uniquely in “situ” to becoming the “instrument” in forging a never before seen unity and purpose amongst Nigeria’s diverse people.

Abiola’s appeal, had been forged through a lifetime of genuine effort in building friendships and bridges across every part of the country. A humanitarian, unsurpassed in his time, he touched the lives of people across all works of life. In denying Abiola his mandate to lead, “serpentine” men, denied Nigeria the clearest chance since her “birth” to truly become owned and accepted by all Nigerians.

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June 12 is a date forever immortalized. On that “day”, Nigerians in their multitudes, put aside hitherto unassailable sentimentalities towards ethnicity and religion. On that “day”, millions of Nigerians cutting across every known divide that had held all in thrall, stepped forth in the cold light of day, to claim ownership of “Nigeria”.

Fleeting as that “day” was, it was witnessed by “man”. Never mind, that it took 25 years for a “government” to reckon with the “day”, as the consciousness of it, and the nostalgia of it, will see June 12 assume larger than life proportions in spite of members of the Nigerian ruling class, not because of them, for the “day” was of the people – all the people.

Appreciatively, it is good and proper that June 12 is now a national holiday and a day to commemorate democracy, especially in a country where the ruling class is seemingly bent on wiping away our “history”. If anything is sure, not talking about the naira here; it is that the “witnessed” history of June 12, manifestingly more poignant through the final life given in its memory by none other than MKO Abiola, will be told! History in that respect is uncanny in its predictability.

Commemorating the very first June 12 national holidays with highfalutin words were all manner of functionaries, including some notable principal actors and collaborators against the actualization of Abiola’s mandate, now fiendishly feasting on democracy’s bounties.

These die-hard fellows, wallowing in conspicuous consumption and glorying in their own peculiar form of civil rule (abridged form of democracy), despoiling the real ethos of June 12, will not detract from its real essence.

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Those responsible for truncating June 12, alongside their co-travelling avaricious Nigerian misleaders and court jesters, steeped in the blood and misery of Nigerians will get their just “historical” recompense. The recognition of June 12 at this time by government is in keeping with “man’s” unending quest for validation. Others that will follow, continuing in this “quest” will seek their own validation.

When all of us who were witnesses that MKO Abiola lived are ourselves all gone, when all those who knew him; his perfections and imperfections(as all men have) are all long gone, a people seeking revalidation, leadership seeking approbation – will raise MKO Abiola to true martyrdom. As the names of villains of Nigerians past will become accursed and their self-serving monuments come tumbling down – so will monuments to Abiola and June 12 be lifted up.

In looking back, we must also look forward. A fundamental lesson that can be taken from MKO Abiola’s last days, when he stood firm on the mandate of Nigerians, refusing to sell out, even at the cost of his liberty and life, is the essence of being resolute in our conviction that there can be a better Nigeria that we can all “own”.

His heir, Kola Abiola alluded to this fact while launching an awareness application; Tribe Naija app – in commemoration of June 12. The app is a mobilization tool aimed at rallying young Nigerians on the imperative of getting their choice of the President and other elective office holders’ right in 2023 and beyond.

Tribe Naija app launch

Panel session during Tribe Naija app launch

The imperative, the critical and urgent necessity of Kola’s idea, especially in these times, cannot be overstated and it is in keeping with the ethos of June 12. When Kola said: “what I am hoping we will do with this platform is to disrupt the process. It is all about disrupting the (old) process” – he was marching in lockstep with his father, who disrupted despotic perpetuation.

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I am particularly heartened by Kola Abiola’s stand in fighting for a united Nigeria – a chore that by the day is growing ever increasingly lonesome for those who choose to stand and fight. The launch of My Tribe Nigeria initiative in 2015 was an avowed stand to fight for Nigeria.

If Nigeria must have a chance then more members of the elite, ala Kola Abiola, must step forth, resolutely, committing to the fight even more forcefully than those who will tear us asunder – therein lays our only hope. A “hope” in tandem with MKO Abiola’s June 12 mandate.

Victor Ikhatalor (@MyTribeNigeria) and can be reached via email: [email protected]

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