The Presidency on Sunday said President Muhammadu Buhari had not been in the good reckoning of a vocal section of the country’s elite because of his performance in office.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who stated this in an opinion titled, “June 12 tsunami and the ones who won’t forgive Buhari,” also blamed elite conspiracy for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election widely believed to have been won by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
Shehu claimed that in the history of Nigeria, hardly had the nation had the elite joining hands for the good of the nation.
He said an old Chinese proverb, “Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil,” summed the intensity of attacks against Buhari, in the wake of the President’s decision to honour the heroes of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Shehu said those who would not be happy with Buhari for righting the wrong of the annulled election were not limited to the military.
He cited media practitioners and those in the judiciary as part of those who would be angry with the President on the matter.
The presidential spokesman added, “Even at that time, it was pretty obvious that the unjust annulment was a huge elite conspiracy, well beyond the schemes and machinations, for which the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, had established a formidable reputation.
“June 12 annulment was inspired and supported in spirit, cash and in kind by high-level citizens who saw an opportunity for themselves and cashed in upon it.
“Beyond the coterie of two dozen or so military officials whose names have been documented as literally having had a gun to the head of their Commander-in-Chief in trying to induce the annulment, there were tens, possibly hundreds of co-conspirators who either forced the annulment in one way or the other, or joined the sustenance of the injustice done to Abiola and the Nigerian voters which, from then evolved into an industry of a kind, supplying incomes and conferring privileges of state upon those in the plot.
“Many have forgotten by now that an interim government was contemplated at that time and a number of retired army generals were in the queue, having been invited to get ready to head it.
“There was the foremost social scientist of the Yoruba stock who prophesied to the then rulers, on the day the announcement of election results was suspended that ‘the Yoruba will not be angry with the Head of State if he will go ahead to annul the election.’ Then he did it.
“In the media, there were many who conspired against the June 12, including the publisher who told their editors not to ‘lose your heads over this June 12. After all, was it not Abiola who thwarted the ambitions of …?’
“In the Nigerian Guild of Editors, where I was one of the three vice-presidents at that time, rising to become the full occupant of the office a few years later, we had our own battles.
“For example, when the Vanguard Newspaper correctly quoted me as asking that Abiola be freed or, in the least, be tried in court because detention without trial, even under the military was wrong, newspapers, both of them now out of print circulation, the New Nigerian (which still maintains an online presence) and Today, lambasted me for expressing that view. Their editors, themselves members of the executive committee of the NGE said in a counter statement that those views were not of the Guild since, as they said, the organisation hadn’t met to take a position on the matter.
“If you are counting the large number of Nigerians united by that annulment, and who must now be very, very angry with President Buhari for righting that wrong which nourished them, one must not leave out the men and women in the temple of justice who used one subterfuge or the other to keep June 12 buried and its biggest symbol, MKO Abiola, in detention until his end came (or was induced). Naturally, there is also the fear of the unknown. What will come after this?”
The presidential spokesman recalled that since the annulment, no past administration in 25 years had asked why was the election annulled, who annulled it and what were the consequences?
He added that no government had ascertained the number of people the nation lost to the annulment beyond Abiola and his late wife, Kudirat, how much was lost in terms of economy and how much damage it caused the nation.