I voted MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993 and I honour him, but quite frankly, if Buhari’s June 12 trick works, and my people vote for him (again), we would be Unsophisticated morons!” I think our people are smarter than that!
I propose to start this article with some lessons in strategy, first of all the difference between strategy and tactics! While strategy is comprehensive, integrated, synthesized, long-term and proactive; tactics are usually specific, isolated, involve decomposition rather than synthesis, is short-term and may usually be reactive.
Once you understand the implications of these differences between strategy and tactics, you will appreciate why the title of this article is “Buhari’s June 12 TACTIC!” Another word for “tactic” is “Ploy” which is described in The New Websters Dictionary of the English Language as “a cunning tactic or gambit”; the same dictionary describes “gambit” as “an opening move or series of moves in chess, in which the player risks losing a pawn or a piece, to secure an advantageous position…”. A word should be enough for the intelligent and/or wise!
Strategy practitioners know that strategy may be deliberate or emergent-a strategic actor may have a planned, deliberate or clearly thought-out strategy but often strategy emerges as developments unfold through a process of interactions between an individual, firm, army and or and its environment…leading eventually (hopefully for the successful actor) to a pattern of actions or behavior that yields or promises to yield advantage, either transient or sustainable to the actor. It is because of this characteristic of strategy that one of my favourite though counter-intuitive definitions of strategy is that it is “the pattern that emerges from a stream of actions”.
The morale of this is that strategic-minded people are better advised to discountenance the words of their adversaries or competitors (or for that matter their “friends” or supposed allies!) and concentrate instead on the pattern revealed by their behavior!
President Buhari’s announcement on June 6, 2018 that he was granting Chief M.K.O Abiola, the winner of the annulled June 12 1993 presidential elections, the national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR); his running-mate in the same election, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON); the irrepressible and truly great civil rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN the GCON as well; and recognition of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day instead of May 29 threw the political system into dis-equilibrium for a while.
Buhari’s opponents, in particular were for several hours thrown into some confusion, unsure of how to react! Abiola has become an iconic figure in Nigeria’s political history and indeed became, by virtue of his death in 1998 while in detention by the military, the martyr for our post-1999 democratic order.
Buhari had never been in support of Abiola’s mandate, whether while alive seeking to realise the democratic mandate freely bestowed on him by Nigeria’s voters or dead in pursuit thereof. Buhari indeed was one of the few former military rulers who supported Abacha throughout his entire despotic and thieving tenure in office.
While Abacha murdered late General Shehu Yar’adua, threw General Obasanjo into prison on contrived charges of coup plotting and almost killed his deputy General Oladipo Diya and other generals, Buhari served in the powerful and financially rewarding position of chair of Abacha’s Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) through Abacha’s evil reign.
There was no evidence Buhari had any compunctions with Abacha over the judicial assassination of Ken Saro-Wiwa; the state-sponsored assassinations of Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Yar’adua, Admiral Omotehinwa and others who fell victim of Abacha’s tyranny. Indeed ten years after Abacha’s death, Buhari payed homage to Abacha’s home and declared that he did no wrong! Buhari repeated his public exculpation of Abacha on May 22 (just as his government received another installment of hundreds of millions of dollars in funds looted from the treasury by Abacha) just 15 days before the dramatic turnaround and announcement of honours to MKO Abiola who was Abacha’s principal victim!
In the circumstances, it was clearly understandable why genuine supporters of Abiola were in some initial quandary over how to react to Buhari’s evidently opportunistic ploy. In spite of my personal reservations, I concluded that our strategic response could not be to oppose the well-deserved honours done to Abiola and Fawehinmi spurring me to send out a tweet on June 7, “#June12 I don’t oppose the things Buhari did in respect of June 12, MKO Abiola or GaniFawehinmi and I urge our people not to oppose them.
But we will not yield any political capital to Buhari for doing them…he didn’t do them out of goodwill or principle, but political advantage.” Like the classical ploy, Buhari’s action has a specific objective (to procure votes from the Yoruba South-West in elections due a few months away); it is a short-term tactic and very clearly an after-thought; honouring Abiola and even Fawehinmi do not form part of Buhari’s comprehensive worldview but rather are simply a reaction to his loss of popularity in the South-West and are an isolated action conjured for a single purpose!
Moreover the action may not endure! A subsequent clarification informed us the June 12 holiday would take effect from next year-conveniently since the elections would have been completed by then! Many have questioned the constitutionality or legality of either or both the GCFR award to Abiola and the declaration of June 12 as democracy day. Already the regime through its own Attorney-General has reportedly walked back the holiday proclamation, asserting that Buhari’s announcement amounts only to a “statement of desire”!
It is becoming probable that the holiday proclamation may require legislative affirmation from the National Assembly, and it is not quite certain such support would be forthcoming. One final point-only Babagana Kingibe, a Buhari regime insider is alive of all the persons honoured by his friend; and he alone derives tangible personal and political benefits from the gesture-I advise everyone to watch that space!
I don’t blame Buhari and his advisers for seeking to exploit the unfortunate failure of ex-Presidents Obasanjo (in particular), Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan to acknowledge MKO Abiola’s election and martyrdom, but if the trick works, our intelligence and wisdom may be called to question! My tweet of June 13, 2018 reflects my final position, “…I voted MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993 and I honour him, but quite frankly, if Buhari’s June 12 trick works, and my people vote for him (again), we would be UNsophisticated morons!” I think our people are smarter than that!
Tags: June 12