Using Tinubu’s Comment of The Abacha’s Dark Era Against Him is Irresponsible

by Fatai Alimi
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Sometimes you come across a picture of an old news where Asiwaju Tinubu said he didn’t believe in one Nigeria. Sadly, Tinubu’s political enemies are trying to make an issue out of this by sharing it all around.

But the fact remains that this was an old news of April 11, 1997, when Sanni Abacha was in power and many proponents of democracy were locked up in different prisons in Nigeria. And even the presumed winner of the June 12 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, was also languishing in one of Nigeria’s prisons.

It was during the dark old days of Nigeria’s political history, when the military under General Sani Abacha was ruling us all with an iron fist, and wreaking havoc on everyone perceived to be fighting for freedom and true democracy. Then, Tinubu, Wole Soyinka and a whole lot of human rights activists were forced into exile.

The situation in Ogoniland was particularly serious, and suspected members or leaders in MOSOP were regularly detained. Security forces arrested and detained several dozen people in Ogoni in November and December 1997. An unknown number remained in detention. Beatrice Nwakpasi was shot dead by soldiers who opened fire on a crowd of dancing people celebrating Ogoni Day and Daniel Naador, detained in connection with the January 4, 1997 celebrations, and beaten so severely that he died in custody two weeks later.

The atrocities of the government of the day were unprecedented.

In addition to detention, critics of the government were subjected to general harassment by the security forces, especially the State Security Service (SSS). This harassment was generally more severe outside Lagos, where opponents of the government were more exposed, but Lagos-based human rights lawyers, journalists, pro-democracy activists or opposition members were also subjected to regular SSS attention. The government also regularly confiscated the passports of those it would rather not wanted to travel overseas to speak about Nigeria.

The human rights situation in Nigeria were deteriorating. The “transition program” supposedly designed to restore Nigeria to civilian elected government on October 1, 1998, was wholly fraudulent. Anyone who criticized the program or the government were subjected to harassment, including arbitrary and prolonged detention or even arbitrary execution. There was no evidence that the government intends to halt the flagrant violations listed below:

1. Violations of the right to vote and participate in public affairs 2. Arbitrary detention and harassment of the opposition 3. Extrajudicial executions 4. Death penalty 5. Undermining courts and the rule of law.

And that was why people like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was forced to speak up. He said he didn’t beleive in one Nigeria not because he actually didn’t, but only because the government of the day could not be trusted with the future of the country, Nigeria.

It is sad that people have now, in the name of politics of bitterness, started to spread falsehood about the courageuos and honest opinion of Asiwaju Tinubu then. They waited till now to use his courageuos act as one of the few who stood up to fight for democracy against the careless government of the day, to settle some selfish and devilish political scores with him. They turned what should have ordinary been celebrated to a political weapon designed to scuttle his presidential aspiration.

But people are now more informed, and such campaign of calumny cannot stand in the face of the truth.

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