25 Years Ago Seems Like Yesterday

june 12th

If you were born on the 12th of June, 1993, you'd probably know a lot about one of the most famous dates in Nigeria's post independence history.

After all it's your birthday. For most people born in 1993, the 12th of June doesn't mean much though.

It is really strange to find out it's now 25 years that Nigeria was taken to the brink again. This time around it seemed the disintegration of the country was just in a matter of days. At least that was the impression you get if you followed the news closely 25 years ago. Then, following the news was a thing you did because the feeling was that our very existence as a nation was in its last throes.

25 years ago was when a certain Uche Chukwumerije, albeit for a few months, became one of the most famous names in Nigeria.

If you think Femi Fani-kayode was a master in spinning any tiny bit of innocuous news to suit the agenda of his current paymaster, then an encounter with Chukwumerije's brand of propaganda would leave you with the distinct impression that Fani-kayode was a badly paid comedian. Remember this, 25 years ago, Nigerians had no choice but to listen to NTA news because it was the only show in town.

All other TV stations were state-owned and had to follow the orders of the military regime then.

So Chukwumerije just could not be ignored. He was so good at his job he succeeded in making many no-Yoruba folks believe June 12 was a Yoruba conspiracy to destroy Nigeria. He was so good honest, hard working folks started relocating to their state of origin for fear of being killed in the planned Yoruba program; because the gospel according to Chukwumerije implied that was the safest thing to do. There were several other major actors in that very exciting period. The winner of the annulled election, Chief Moshood Abiola, was running around begging prominent people to talk sense into President Ibrahim Babangida to De-annul the election. While Abiola was trying to claim his mandate, the question for some people was the whereabouts of the irrepressible Chairman of the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, Professor Humphrey Nwosu.

Finally news came out he was under house arrest.

Why he was placed under house arrest was strange to a growing kid like me back then. But thinking about it now, the house arrest was to ensure he did not have access to the media to blab his big mouth. Man, did that Prof liked talking. Listening to him was a joy. He was also one of the heroes of June 12. Nwosu was the exact antithesis of the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Atahiru Jega. Jega is the calm quiet type, like a chess player calculating his next move. Nwosu was an unstoppable storm. He dominated his environment with his booming voice. He defied the military regime to start announcing the results after he was told by a military-inspired fake court order to suspend all election activities.

Chief Authur Nzeribe was the face of that court order.

Heading a group known as the Association of Better Nigeria, ABN, he made it clear he did not want Babangida to go. So with the backing of the military government, he procured the court order Babamgida used as one of his excuses to annul the election. That Nigeria survived that crisis 25 years ago reinforced the notion by critical watchers of Nigeria that the elites would do anything to make sure the country never disintegrates. They are the major beneficiaries of the contraption known as Nigeria. The system works for them the way it is.

So if you were born 24 years ago.

That was the country you were born into. Your parents must have been scared to hell about your future. I bet for your sake, they must have prayed harder than anybody for the crisis to be resolved. Well, the crisis led us to where we are today. You are 24, and I am wondering what the heck Nigeria has in store for a young adult like you.