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I Want to Take Rotary District 9110 to Greater Heights – District Gov, Rtn. Ify Ejezie

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By Michael Effiong

Ifeyinwa Rita Ejezie is the new District Governor of Rotary International District 9110, covering all the Rotary Clubs in Lagos and Ogun States. The passionate philanthropist, Stockbroker and Commodity Trader is the National Vice Chairman of the Association of Securities Dealing House of Nigeria (ASHON)

In this interview, with The Boss, she speaks candidly about her main plans for her one year tenure which begins today, July 1, 2023.

You are taking over as the District Governor of Rotary International District 9110, how does that make you feel?

I am really looking forward to this assignment, I am looking forward to doing more good in communities in Lagos and Ogun States which our District covers. I feel blessed by God for giving me the opportunity to lead a group of passionate Rotarians, almost 5,000 people, it is an enormous responsibility that I do not take for granted.

In Rotary, we are given at least three years preparation time because you begin as District Governor Nominee Designate (DGND), you then become a District Governor Nominee (DGN), a District Governor-elect (DGE) and finally you take up your responsibility as Governor. I believe this Rotary structure gives enough time for reflection, for learning and planning. It is the execution part that happens when you eventually become District Governor.

Tell us about Rotary, your District and its major impact on communities and in the world?

Rotary is the largest Non-Governmental Organisation in the world , it is a group of business and professional persons who have come together for the purpose of doing good in the world .

My District 9110 , like I said is made up of Rotary Clubs in Lagos and Ogun States. We have been in the forefront of fighting Polio and  eradicating it in Nigeria. In addition, we have also embarked on various projects in what we refer as our seven areas of focus. These  are: Peace building and Conflict prevention, Disease prevention & treatment, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Basic Education & Literacy, Community, Economic Development, Maternal & Child health and protecting our environment.

Knowing that the governments are not able to do all that is needed for people to be able to live quality lives, Rotary has always filled in the gaps. For the People of Lagos and Ogun States, I can only reassure them that during my tenure as the District Governor there will be a continuity in the delivery of humanitarian services. Our over 140 clubs across the two states would be encouraged and supported as applicable to either individually or jointly deliver impactful projects across the states.

What inspired you to join the organisation called Rotary?

My contact with the Rotary family actually started far back in my university  days. I was a Rotractor. In Rotary we have Interact for secondary school pupils and Rotaract for University and young adults, so I joined a Rotaract Club.

There, I learnt  the beauty of caring and reaching out to your community through this platform and touching people’s lives. Joining the organisation taught me that there was more to life than looking after yourself alone. And when one saw how people’s faces light up when you touch their lives with a positive project, it was just something that then became a part of me.

Now, kindly tell us a bit about yourself?

I can proudly refer to myself as a pan Nigerian. I was born to a well-lettered father and an educationist mother from Ihiala Anambra State, Chief and Mrs Michael Ejezie in Kaduna State. I have a Diploma from the Ahmadu Bello University, HND in Business Administration from Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, MBA from ESUT Business School and MSC in Corporate Governance  & Finance from Liverpool John Moore University, UK.

I have more than three decades of professional and distinguished career in Nigerian financial system cutting across banking, financial management, stock-dealing,capital market and business management advisory services. Currently, I am Fellow, Chartered Insitute of Stcokbrokers. Fellow, Pensions Institute of Nigeria, Fellow, Certified Institute of Public Administrators, Ghana, Associate Member, Nigeria Institute of Management, Associate, Chartered Institute of Bankers, Associate Member, Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria and an Authorised Commodity Trader with the Lagos Commodity and Futures Exchange to mention but a few

I am an active member of the Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), where I held the position of Public Relations Officer from 2017-2021 and currently serving on the Executive Governing Council as National Vice Chairman of the association.

In Rotary, I was Club President of Rotary Club of Ikoyi Metro in 2011-2012 and made history!. As President, I led my club to emerge the Overall Best Club in District 9110. The Club also emerged the Overall Best Donor/Contributor to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International that same year.

I have marshalled funds for The Rotary Foundation over the years and contributed over $23,000 to the Foundation while aspiring to be an AKS Member ( commit to donating $250,000) by 2023-24 as District Governor.

Interesting, so as a Chartered Stockbroker, Commodity Trader who works in the financial services industry how will these affect your role as District Governor?

I actually  started my career  as a Banker , before becoming a stockbroker and Commodity  Trader. The different things I have done professionally have required different skill sets though they are related.

I must confess that I was truly inspired by the trajectory of our Past Rotary International Vice President (PRIVP_ Yinka Babalola, a sterling Rotarian who became District Governor when he was still a full time staff at Shell Nigeria.

I approached him at the time on how he intended to manage but he told me, it was all about setting your priorities right and staying focused. You will not believe it, that year, he emerged as the Best District Governor in Nigeria and was also honoured at our Rotary International Convention. That to me was something remarkable that I could emulate as a thoroughbred professional in Rotary.

Therefore my experiences as a banker which include being an early riser, teambuilding and financial discipline, as a Stockbroker which involves having excellent analytical skill and the ability to distill complex information and Commodity Trader, which involves having discipline and integrity will all combine to make me a better District Governor.

So you are invariably saying you are prepared for your new role?

Yes, but I will say you cannot be 100 per cent prepared because in life you learn every day and you discover new things. But I must say that my passion for service , the encouragement  of District  leaders  who believe in my abilities  over the years and the various trainings both locally and across borders  by Rotary International have prepared me for this position . I will also add that my passion for philanthropy, my professional and social contacts all gave me the confidence to aspire for this position and so we are ready to impact lives.

In Rotary you cannot do it alone. You do everything in collaboration with those that are going to work with you. Presidents of clubs, Chairmen and members of district committees and other past leaders are going to give you all the support. Once you’re given all the needed support and you have a plan, everything will work out well

What are your major plans and activities for the your one year in office?

Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, almost a century ago, stressed that Rotary would need to change with a changing world.  “The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again”.  So, it’s a good time to reflect and see what, if any, change we would introduce to make the organisation grow.

I’d like to explore new fundraising opportunities, grow our membership and promote the great work of our club..  Growing membership is critical for the future of the club.  We seek a younger, more diverse demographic who are committed to Service Above Self.  Finally, our clubs do tremendous work but we don’t shine the light enough on our achievements.  The plan will be to increase our social media presence and promote ourselves more! We do so much but are not telling our stories, so we will increase our media engagement. This has the potential to attract new members as well as garnering support (financial and otherwise) for our organisation.

We want to put Rotary in the hearts and minds of people. Rotary is much more that the four way test that so many people know. We will also be driving home our avenues of service, which talks of service, integrity, leadership, fellowship and diversity.

Talking of diversity, you know Rotary is one of the few organisations that takes diversity seriously. We have a whole Diversity,  Equity and Inclusion handbook that guides our operations. I tell you, if you are not a Rotarian, you are missing a lot.

How would you assess the performance of your predecessor?

My Predecessor,  Rtn Omotunde Lawson has done her best. She broke the glass ceiling as the first female District Governor in the 42 year old history of our district and I feel very honoured to be the second. She achieved many feats and has definitely taken the district to a higher level. Rotary is a continuum, it is not a matter of saying, she ran her race, I will run mine, there is a link between past, present and future. So, it is my turn now to continue from where she has stopped, it is only one year and we have to give it our all.

How do you intend to surpass her record?

Our aim is to make District 9110 achieve bigger things, we will definetly strive to surpass her record. Last year was for Rotarians to Imagine Rotary, this year we are all working together as Rotarians to bring hope to the world. We want to bring hope to the world in all ramifications with impactful and sustainable projects.

As a woman who has risen through the ranks, what advice do you have for other women seeking to rise up the ladder? 

My advice to women is that they should be steadfast and passionate with service, be good in whatever they know how to do  and have confidence  in their abilities to deliver. They must never compromise their principles and never give up in the face of intimidation .

You are obviously a very busy career woman. Tell us how you have been able to maintain a work-home/family balance?

I was able to maintain balance  by allocating time in order of priorities and having the ability to delegate authority where necessary. I am a team player and believe in democratic style of leadership. I am not authoritarian by nature.

No doubt, you can be described as a successful woman, kindly share your success secrets?

The secret of my success if we can call it that,  are hard work, exuding happiness always and my abiding faith in God to see me through any circumstances  no matter the level.

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Tinubu’s 50k Bazaar: Govt Weaponizing Poverty – Dele Momodu

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By Eric Elezuo

Following the announcement of the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government of Nigeria of its intention to distribute N50,000 to 3.7 million homes/persons across the country among other cash induced benefits to cushion the effects of the over one year hardship that erupted on the first day of the administration, most prominent Nigerians have risen to condemn the move.

Among the loudest of voices against of the voices is the celebrated journalist and former presidential aspirant, Aare Dele Momodu, who described the move as the latest bazaar of the Tinubu administration, adding that it is subject to weaponizing poverty among the already very poor and anguished Nigerians.

The Chairman of Ovation Media Group took to his Instagram handle to caution the government against throwing money at anything and everything, stressing that it’s never the way to go,  in an article he titled ‘Tinubu’s Latest Bazaar’. He took a swipe at successive administrations, tracing back to the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan of presidents, whose stock and trade has remain doling out money to to people as if it is confetti, without enabling environment of utilisation.

The revered community leader, who has been honoured with various titles across the Nigerian traditional and ethnic divide, analyzed the length 50,000 can go in the present economic dispensation, informing that the amount is just an equivalent of US$30, and cannot, on its own, buy a small quantity of tomatoes, rice, beans, garlic, elubo, yam, fish or any other stable food. He therefore, queried how the government expect the money to go a long way.

Proposing a way forward however, Momodu advised the government as matter of urgency to produce a million millionaire entrepreneurs with one trillion Naira, who in turn will churn out more entrepreneurs through employment and training, and so the circle will continue.

He further suggested that the measure can be achieved through a setting up of a non partisan committee, who will conduct a meticulous screening of presentations from applicants.

“Each applicant would be expected to employ minimum of 5 others in their chosen vocations. Another trillion can go into vocational trainings. Nigeria must focus aggressively on vocational revolution. Our youths are extremely gifted and hardworking. Throwing peanuts at them is only an extension of hopelessness. We can do much better,” the media entrepreneur said.

Below is Momodu’s detailed statement:

TINUBU’s LATEST BAZAAR…

For anyone who knows how to weaponize poverty, throwing money at anything and everything becomes an addiction. It is so disheartening seeing how government after government in Nigeria continues to spend money as if it is mere confetti. This is not the first time I’m complaining before the defenders of bad policies descend to accuse us of anti-Tinubu criticism. My position has been consistent since President Goodluck Jonathan started distributing telephones to farmers. Not that it was a totally bad idea, but knowing my country well enough, it was an invitation to free food. The logistics of it alone was dizzying. The originators had fantastic ideas but the executors were, majorly, artful Dodgers.

When PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI came, the principalities managed to convince him to spray cash in parts of the country, even if it will ultimately get to less than one percent of the populace. The BUHARI bazaar was so obscenely bizarre that Nigerians queued in public places to collect raw cash. I have never seen anything so demeaning…

It is now the turn of PRESIDENT TINUBU. Just in case he is not aware, let me break it down. N50k is approximately 30 USD today. A scanty basket of tomatoes the last time my wife checked in Ibadan was N140k. We are not talking of pepper, onions and vegetable oil yet. Oh, we are yet to add gaari, elubo, rice, beans, yam, semovita, meat, fish and sundries. In my view, distributing 50k in many homes will only create further frustrations, big in title but useless in the market place.

So, my humble suggestion is that we can produce a million millionaire entrepreneurs with one trillion Naira. A non partisan committee can achieve this through meticulous screening of presentations from applicants. Each applicant would be expected to employ minimum of 5 others in their chosen vocations… Another trillion can go into vocational trainings. Nigeria must focus aggressively on vocational revolution. Our youths are extremely gifted and hardworking. Throwing peanuts at them is only an extension of hopelessness. We can do much better…

It would be recalled that President Tinubu on Thursday, gave the directive at the 142nd National Economic Council meeting attended by state governors and some deputies at the State House, Abuja, announcing a National Construction and Household Support Programme which will see 100,000 families in each state getting ₦50,000 federal government grant for three months, ₦155,000,000,000 to be disbursed for assorted foods, ₦540,000,000,000 for household grants even as 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory will get ₦10,000,000,000 allocations each for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses.

The ₦50,000 federal government grant planned for 3,700,000 households across the 36 states and the FCT, the ₦10,000,000,000 allocation each for CNG buses in the 36 states and the FCT, as well as the ₦155,000,000,000 spending on assorted foods, are estimated to cost over ₦1,000,000,000,000.

While emphasising the urgency of boosting food production in the country, Tinubu urged state governors to work together to meet the needs of Nigerians, stating his willingness to provide the needed support to ensure that Nigerians are relieved of hardship.

“We must deliver on our targets at all levels. Please report back following your consultations and submit it to my office within seven days.

“How much support do you need from me and in what form? I am prepared to provide it. But we must achieve the result.

“There is nothing we are doing that is more important than producing high-quality food for our people to consume, buy, and sell. We create jobs in the production of it. And that is before we generate wealth by exporting the excess. It is not beyond us to achieve this for Nigerians,” President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said.

In recent times, multiple economic challenges have bedeviled the country with high inflation driven by the removal of fuel subsidies and exchange rate depreciation reached 27% year-on-year in October 2023.

This price surge, coupled with high food insecurity has increased the cost-of-living crisis, leaving Nigerians struggling to afford necessities, and languishing in abje t poverty, and increasing the rate of crimes.

In spite of certain policy reforms like fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate unification adopted by the Tinubu government, the challenges of poverty, stalled per-capita growth, and a weak business environment persist.

Also in July 2023, Tinubu announced the sharing of eight thousand Naira to 12 million vulnerable families for six months.

Again in October 2023, Tinubu announced another conditional cash transfer to 15 million households. The announcement coincided with the celebration of World Poverty Eradication Day.

There had been more and more cash  intervention programmes since the May 29, 2023 ‘Subsidy is Gone’ infamous declaration, and none is yet to lift Nigerians out poverty as economic realities continue to bite harder, and the Nigerian public coming out worst on a daily basis.

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Peter Obi Right to Condemn Planned Purchase of New Aircraft, Says Dele Momodu

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By Eric Elezuo

Veteran journalist and Chairman, Ovation Media Group, Aare Dele Momodu, has exonerated Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, on his description of the planned purchase of Presidential jets for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kasheem Shettima as insensitive and unacceptable.

The former Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was speaking via his social media handles, said “there’s nothing wrong with what Peter Obi said and suggested”, and called on the Tinubu-led administration to demonstrate the sacrifice he preaches by using his own jets and downsize his retinue of hangers-on during traveling.

He maintained that acquiring new aircraft at these hard times is an overindulgence, and urged Tinubu to stay away from the outlandishly flamboyant lifestyle of politicians.

He wrote: “In these hard times, there’s no compulsory reason for a country to own Presidential jets. In fact, it is an overindulgence. ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU owned private jets ever before he was declared President. He can demonstrate the SACRIFICE he preaches by downsizing and returning to them and requesting his retinue to go commercial when absolutely necessary. AIR PEACE has a fleet of Boeing 777 that can be hired for long haul flights and this will keep them in business. Trouble is our politicians are outlandishly flamboyant… There’s nothing wrong with what PETER OBI said and suggested…”

Recall that a House Committee on National Security and Intelligence had recommended new aircraft for the president and his vice. The recommendation was approved by its sister Senate Committee. The decision has since raised just among Nigerians as regards the gain at a time Nigeria is battling with serious economic downturn and outright hunger in the land.

However, a spokesperson of President Tinubu, who is the special adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, defended the planned purchase asking Nigerians if they want Tinubu to die like the former president of Iran and former Vice President of Malawi, both of whom died recently in a plane crash.

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ICYMI – June 12: The Heroes, the Villains

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By Eric Elezuo

June 12 has become an official national day, after many years of the agitation to recognize it. It was the day that Nigerians set aside tribal and religious sentiment to vote massively for MKO Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe in an election everyone described as the freest and fairest.

But the presumed winner never took office because nidway into the release of the results, the then President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida annulled the process, and there began a crisis.

While many agitated for the restoration of Abiola’s mandate, many sold out, and joined the Babangida, Shonekan and Abacha oppressors.

Below is an abridged list of those in support and against the June 12 mandate. You can add more names if there are:

MKO Abiola

The story of Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola is better compared to the beautiful bride, so beloved and cherished all because of how she distinguished herself. MKO, as he is popularly called, was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the disputed June 12 1993 Presidential election – an election acclaimed by not a few persons as the freest and fairest the country has ever had. The Ogun state born billionaire entrepreneur was leading handsomely when the Babangida junta suddenly annulled the election.

Abiola will not easily let go of his mandate, and with the people solidly behind him, he fought the Babangida and later Abacha junta to a standstill, and finally paid the supreme price when he died in detention on July 7, 1998, a day he was supposedly to be released, in the presence of notable world leaders. His death was a great blow to democratic and June 12 struggle.

One striking thing about Abiola’s democratic struggle was the fact that he didn’t actually need it. He was stupendously rich, and could have let go but he didn’t. He died fighting for the masses. He died a selfless democrat at 60.

Gani Fawehinmi

One of Nigeria’s finest lawyers, late Abdul-Ganiyu Fawehinmi was a human rights activist, who defended the masses without equivocation. He was fearless in his approach to matters so long as it provides succor to a citizen. Before he was recognised and awarded the coveted Senior Advocate of Nigeria, his followers had ‘honoured’ him with the ‘Senior Advocate of the Masses.’

Late Fawehinmi reported that he was arrested, detained and incarcerated a total of 32 times by successive military regimes, including those of Gen. Yakubu Gowon (six times), Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (three times), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (17 times) and Gen. Sani Abacha (six times).

Babangida said of him, “I appreciate you that you have a strong conviction and fight for it consistently. This is the context in which I see Gani.” He added that the arrest of Gani is ‘all in a day’s work. It’s just part of the job description’. Today, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has posthumously honoured him with the GCON award.

Frank Kokori

As the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) at the time, Kokori singlehandedly paralysed the country’s economy by calling out workers in the petroleum sector to go on strike. The mass action significantly paralysed the economy, and gave the government a wake up call.

He allegedly refused carrots dangled by the Abacha regime all because of the democratic struggle.

Wole Soyinka

An intellectual of repute, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, was not left out in post-June 12 struggle. It is on record that the literary icon used his international connection to draw the attention of the international community to events in Nigeria.

He was one of the brains and voices behind the much talked about Radio Kudirat, which was set up at a time when the military had their foot on media organisations and journalists. He was also a strong pillar of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) made up of pro-democracy fighters.

Kudirat Abiola

She was the second wife of MKO Abiola, who stood stoutly behind her husband. While Abiola was in detention, Kudirat took up the mantle, and was in the forefront of the fight for his release. Joining forces with other activists and civil rights giants, she became a painful thorn to the Abacha led regime.

Her fearless journey was cut short when she was brutally murdered at the Oregun area of Lagos on June 4, 1996. She was only 44.

A partaker in her assassination, Mr. Mohammed Abdul, aka Katako, in 2007, confessed that Kudirat’s murder was state sponsored.

He said: “On the day of the attack, we followed Kudirat Abiola’s white Mercedez Benz from Ikeja to Allen Avenue and then to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. When we got to the Toll Gate area, (Sgt. Barnabas) Rogers asked me to get close to the Benz and I did. Then, he (Rogers) leaned out of the window and started spraying the victim with bullets with the P90 rifle. After that, we immediately drove to Dodan Barracks.”

Anthony Enahoro

Also a leader of NADECO, Enahoro led the coalition in the Diaspora while on exile. He was the Chairman of NADECO; the Chairman of the Movement for National Reformation and was the leader of Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO).

The statesman, known for moving a motion for Nigeria’s self-rule, never relented in his call for the recognition of the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by Abiola.

On many occasions, he escaped assassination. He died on December 15, 2010, at 87.

Beko Ransome-Kuti

Beko formed what has been described as Nigeria’s first human rights organisation, the Campaign for Democracy, which was used to tackle Abacha’s dictatorship in the post-June 12 struggle. The CHDR is also Beko’s brainchild.

Under the regime, a military tribunal in 1995 sentenced Beko to life in prison for bringing the mock trial of Obasanjo to the attention of the world. His freedom came with the death of Abacha in 1998.

He died on February 10, 2006.

Ndubuisi Kanu

He is one of the few Igbo men who fought ceaseless for the restoration of the June 12-Abiola mandate.

After his retirement from the military, Kanu joined the pro-democracy movement and was one of the leaders of NADECO during the period; he later became chairman of the coalition in 2013.

Kanu also had his share of the bitter experiences like other pro-democracy activists like him. During the struggle, he reportedly escaped assassination by a stroke of luck

Alfred Rewane

Rewane was a successful businessman, a major financier of NADECO in the post-June 12 struggle. He used his means to support his compatriots in the opposition to the Abacha regime.

He was murdered on October 6, 1995, in his Ikeja residence, at the age of 78.

Abubakar Umar

Umar was another soldier, like Kanu who opposed to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.

He masterminded Abiola’s installation as president, and was caught, but was lucky to get away. He left the Nigerian Army in the heat of the struggle in 1993, and became a social critic and founded a political party called the Movement for Unity and Progress.

Ayo Opadokun

Chief Ayo Opadokun spent a sizable part of his life behind bars in the battle to actaulise June 12.

Alao Aka-Basorun

A former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Aka-Basorun was one of the pioneers of legal activism. Fondly referred to as ‘The Lion of the Bar,’ he was said to be one of the earliest proponents of national conference and restructuring of Nigeria’s federation.

He was one of the leading lawyers who defended Abiola during his “treason” trial, aftermath of his ‘Epetedo Declaration.’

He suffered a memory failure at the assassination of Kudirat Abiola and never recovered.

Abraham Adesanya

Adesanya, as  the leader of the Afenifere and deputy leader of NADECO remained at home with the likes of the late Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba and a host of others while many fled the country.

He mysteriously escaped the assassins’ bullets in 1997. It was during the trial of those suspected to have attacked him that revelations were made that he was marked for assassination for being a member of NADECO, a group already outlawed by the military regime.

Tunji Braithwaite

Braithwaite was one of the brains behind the ‘June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations,’ another pro-democracy advocacy group. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he rejected offers by successive military juntas and remained in the country even as a good number of activists fled the country.

Olusegun Osoba

One of the finest journalists Nigeria has ever produced, Chief Olusegun Osoba, was the Editor and Managing Director of government-owned Daily Times Nigeria Ltd under Babangida’s regime. He had bitter experiences like his compatriots.

Osoba revealed that Babangida sacked him three times while Abacha made attempts on his life three times due to his alignment with NADECO.

Osoba said in parts, “I will call him by his name. Three times Babangida sacked me. Three times he re-instated me. At last, he converted my sack to resignation. Three times Abacha wanted to kill me. I was in hiding for one year,” he said.

Other notable activists in the June 12 struggle are Frederick Faseun, Ibrahim Tahir, Balarabe Musa, Bola Tinubu, Ebitu Ukiwe, Walter Carrington, Bolaji Akinyemi, Bola Ige, Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba, Yinka and Joe-Okei-Odumakin, Dele Momodu, late Chima Ubani, Debo Adeniran, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Omoyele Sowore, Segun Maiyegun, Segun Okeowo, Femi Aborisade, Tokunboh Afikuyomi, Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Joe Igbokwe, Solanke Onasanya, Kayode Fayemi, Shehu Sani, among a host of many others.

 

The Villains

Ibrahim Babangida

Perhaps there is no greater villain of the June 12 struggle that Babangida. He will be remembered for his infamous annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. In fact, he started the imbroglio when on June 23, 1993, in a nationwide broadcast, he annulled the election.

Though he took full responsibility for the annulment of the election he claims it was a collective decision.

Sani Abacha

Abacha had the opportunity to right the wrongs of IBB, but failed to do so, instead he constituted himself as a terror, and planned to perpetuate himself in power.

During his regime, many lives of activists were cut short, and he caused others to flee the country. He did not stop at denying Abiola his mandate, he arrested him and held him inncustody until his death in 1998.

In his quest to kill June 12, and democracy in general, he lured and lobbied friends and associates of Abiola to serve in his government. Many of them such as the running mate to Abiola, Babagana Kingibe, Ebernezer Babatope, Lateef Jakande among others, withdrew their loyalty to the presumed president-elect.

Tony Anenih

Chief Tony Anenih was the National Chairman of the SDP, on which platform Abiola contested the 1993 election. Anenih, alias ‘Mr. Fix It,’ He practically failed to fix the people’s mandate, and forced forces with the oppressors.

Babagana Kingibe

Many see Babagana Kingibe as the greatest let down of the June 12 struggle. He was Abiola’s running mate in the 1993 contest, and common sense assumed he will stick with his principal to the end, but he became a turncoat and sold the mandate when he joined Abacha’s regime with the likes of Tony Anenih.

A lot of people have said that he does not in any way deserve the honours of GCON bestowed on him by Buhari. He didn’t fight at all before giving up. He never believed in June 12.

Uche Chukwumerije

The late Sen. Uche Chukwumerije became Babangida and Shonekan’s Information Minister while activists were fighting to reclaim the June 12 mandate. His propaganda theory was so potent that many wondered where he gets them from. He fought activists to a standstill.

In later interview, he supported the annulment based, according to him, on ‘security report…at the time’. He eventually benefitted from the democratic process as elected senator.he died on April 19, 2015,

Daniel Kanu

Kanu came from nowhere to become Abacha’s henchman and perpetrated serious anti-democratic activities, including organizing the infamous one million march for Abacha with his ‘Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha’ group. He basically dined and wined with the autocratic government.

Kanu was reported as saying, “The destiny of this nation and the transition to democracy under the present dispensation can only achieve its viable potential if handled by prudent, purposeful, and transparent leadership of General Abacha.”

When he contested and won PDP’s ticket for the House of Representatives in AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency in 2002, he was paid back in his own coin as his was ‘annulled’ over “unverifiable certificates” and “unclear antecedents.”

Arthur Nzeribe

He was Babangida’s own henchman, and was in the forefront of truncating the June 12 election with his infamous Association for Better Nigeria.

The ABN had made taken a major step to ensure the junta remained in power by approaching a court to prevent the conduct of the June 1993 presidential election. Its argument: leader of the NRC and the SDP were corrupt politicians.

The Campaign for Democracy challenged them and won.

Nzeribe’s association, again, went to court after the poll to prevent the release of the election results. Babangida listened and the political crisis ensued.

Nzeribe later boasted of his role in the cancellation of the June 12 election.

Abimbola Davies

He was one of the directors of the Nzeribe-led pro-Abacha ABN, among several others. He has been criticised for his links with the anti-democratic forces. Davies made a u-turn shortly after, and exposed the ABN motives.

Ernest Shonekan

A kinsman of Abiola, Shonekan happily accepted the interim leadership role. He could have used the opportunity to cause, but he never did. He revolved round the presidency until Abacha sacked him three months later.

Abdul-Azeez Arisekola-Alao

The late Ibadan-based billionaire businessman pitched his tent with Babangida in as much as he was Abiola’s friend and Yoruba Islamic leader. He spoke vehemently against the June 12 mandate.

He said, “Wallahi tallahi billahillazi la’ila ha illahuwa – and we are in the month of Ramadan; that is what happened at that time. It was after the election that members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council threatened to kill both MKO Abiola and IBB, if he insisted on releasing the result of the election. They threatened to kill both IBB and Abiola.”

Lamidi Adedibu

The late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, was said to have ‘arranged’ the infamous conditional bail to be granted to Abiola while in incarceration, a move that would have denied Abiola his mandate if he accepted the offer.

IBB was later quoted as saying that Adedibu supported the June 12 annulment.

Jerry Gana

Prof. Jerry Gana was one of the civilians co-opted into Abacha’s transition and being the Minister of Information, he was one of earliest people to sing the dirge of June 12.

Gana had in May 1994, almost the first year anniversary of June 12, reportedly said, “The military administration (Abacha’s regime) did not actualise the June 12 election, in spite of its opposition to the annulment, for fear that certain sections of the country could rise against it. If they actualised June 12 when they came in, another section would rise.

“The annulment is a painful one but we cannot because of it allow the people of Nigeria to be destroyed. Somebody has made a mistake like somebody made in 1966, like somebody made in 1984, like somebody made a mistake by stopping Jerry Gana from becoming a president by annulling my own primaries.”

Al-Mustapha, Sofolahan, Others

Abacha’s former Chief Security Officer, Maj. Hamza Al-Mustapha; Kudirat’s former Personal Assistant, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan; a son of late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, Mohammed Abacha; and Rabo Lawal were in December 1999 charged with conspiracy and murder over their alleged involvement in the assassination of Kudirat Abiola.

After 13 years of instituting the case, which was presided over by five successive judges and during which the accused persons were in prison custody, Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan were sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court on January 30, 2012.

Lawal Pedro, who led the prosecution, had accused Al-Mustapha of ordering Barnabas Rogers, (alias Sgt. Rogers), a member of Abacha’s Strike Force, to kill Kudirat. However, the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday, July 12, 2013, discharged and acquitted al-Mustapha and Shofolahan, saying there was not enough evidence to incriminate him in the murder of Kudirat. The verdict overturned the death sentence passed on al-Mustapha by the Lagos High Court.

Similarly, the likes of Bashir Tofa, the candidate of the NRC, who has yet to openly admit that Abiola won the election; Chief Tom Ikimi, the chairman of NRC, who defected to Abacha’s camp; Humphrey Nwosu, who couldn’t muster the courage to release the remaining results and others.

The Five political parties that adopted Abacha as their sole candidate for the election are also great enemies of the June 12 struggle. Someone had described them as the ‘five leprous fingers of Abacha’.

Additional Info from The Punch

First published on June 10, 2018

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