Even when some people, for whatever reason, may not admit it, Chief MKO Abiola was the founder of the democracy we enjoy today. He used his money and blood to usher in the Fourth Republic, which though ever fledgling, has weathered all the storms of past 19 years.
While the self-styled military president, Ibrahim Babangida continued to ban and unban politicians and political parties, the nation watched in trepidation while deep thinkers believed the ex-general from Minna never intended to relinquish power. When the man christened Maradona eventually created and settled for SDP and NRC political parties as the only two parties registered which every politician must decide which one to queue behind, it took the coming of the Abeokuta-born business tycoon for hesitant Nigerians to believe IBB’s planned transition was for real.
That the ground-breaking June 12. 1993 election was annulled is now history, and a very big one at that. But however evil deeds try to overshadow it, the real fact is that MKO Abiola, flying the flag of the SDP, clearly won the election. Running with Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, one of the greatest orators the nation ever witnessed, Abiola broke all tribal and religious barriers to win almost every state in the Federation.
One very significant occurrence of that exercise is that what Nigerians perceived impossible happened. Abiola was a Muslim and so was his running mate, Kingibe. It was impossible to envisage that a Muslim/Muslim ticket would win any presidential election in Nigeria, particularly as the only opponent ran on a Muslim/Christian ticket. Alhaji Bashir Torfa was the flag bearer of NRC while Dr. Sylvester Ugo was his running mate. Ideally, this combination should have beaten the Muslim/Muslim opposition.
But besides the fact that Kingibe was fabulous in his campaign oratory…in fact, he could convince a dog to follow him to Calabar, MKO won the election because he was accepted in every part of Nigeria. Here was a man, who would single-handedly build a mosque in Gamawa, Borno State and very willingly build a church in Ozubulu, Anambra State also. Here was a man, whose businesses were felt in every state of the Federation. Here was a man who was never a tribalist. And here was a man who was never a religious fanatic. A very astute philanthropist who never discriminated before giving and he truly gave to many.
As an Igbo Christian, sentiments should have dragged me to vote for Torfa and Ugo but I couldn’t. I may not know much about politics then but I loved football. I remembered Abiola Babes…I remembered one of the most loved players in Nigeria that captained the team – Yisa Sofoluwe and remembered Abiola Babes signed Nigerian players from every tribe to play for them and believed Abiola deserved my vote. Many Nigerians followed suit and history was made. But clouds, dark clouds, that forever hovered around the nation since independence would force IBB and his cabal to cancel an election that should have effectively unified Nigeria. It threw Nigeria into her worse turmoil since the Civil War, leading to the death of Abiola and the tyrant, who was dragging the country to alarming irredeemable abyss, General Sani Abacha.
Through President Olusegun Obasanjo, Abiola’s kinsman, Nigeria witnessed democracy after a six-year delay. All thanks to Abiola, who refused to settle for anything else but his mandate.
Today, we have another Abiola in our midst. A man, who shares same Abiola’s stance with religion, tribe, businesses, philanthropy and a true patriot. And he has even more – while people feared Abiola might find politics and governance difficult as he had no experience, this man has all the experience, having been the most-influential vice president for eight years. Before then he had participated very actively in politics having been tutored by the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the PDM. He already was a governor-elect before he stepped up to become the vice president.
Forget some cabals, who must have very ugly skeletons in the cupboards to fear for Atiku’s presidency, he is a man loved in every part of Nigeria. If another man had run for presidency with a Muslim/Muslim ticket instead of Abiola, Torfa would have won. If PDP thinks just their party is enough to get power from APC, they are in dreamland. Nigerians, more than any time before in their history, want a candidate they can trust. Fortunately for PDP they have that candidate in Turaki Adamawa. If for whatever reason they fail to conduct a transparent primary just to scheme the former vice president out, then they are perfectly playing into the hands of APC.
It takes more than mere ability to govern to win the presidency of this country, especially when it’s up against an incumbent. Forget about how Goodluck Jonathan became president. His is one-in-a-millennium kind of miracle. A man that can unseat a Nigerian incumbent president must be one with local and international pedigree and one with the wherewithal to withstand the president he’s fighting to unseat.
Don’t get me wrong. Turaki is not the only living Nigerian that is capable to lead this country. Far from it. Rather putting all indices together he represents the most appropriate out of every contender we know of or don’t even know yet.
Some say he’s another Fulani and I beg to disagree. Being Fulani makes it even much better. That the herdsmen causing menace all over the place are believed to be Fulanis doesn’t mean every Fulani is a herdsman. That one Fulani killed one today doesn’t mean every Fulani is a murderer. That we have a Fulani as an incompetent president doesn’t mean every Fulani should be ascribed with incompetence. We have a chance in Atiku to use him to tell our Fulani brothers that there’s no tribal hatred in the land. Nigerians should assess people individually and not via tribe or religion. And bet me, the Turaki Adamawa will certainly take maximum use of the opportunity to put the Fulani tribe in very positive light.
Our dear country is in dire straits. We need a messiah, a fence-mender, an achiever, a wealth creator and above all, an individual who is a master of getting the right people to get the right things done. Atiku did those admirably as just vice president. As a president he’d do even better, far better.