Dele Alake, Director of Media and Communications of the Campaign Council of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Presidential candidate of the APC, has recounted the sacrifice and contributions of the former Lagos Governor during the June 12 struggle and how his courageous challenge of military dictatorship aided the restoration of democracy in 1999.
Alake made this known while participating in a Twitter space conversation hosted by the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Media Centre on Sunday. The conversation was witnessed by thousands of young Nigerians and leaders of the APC, including Governor Babajide Sanwoolu of Lagos State.
According to the veteran journalist renowned for his contribution to press development and freedom in Nigeria, the June 12 struggle, caused by the annulment of the 1993 Presidential election by Military Head of State General Ibrahim Babangida, saw Tinubu take a forefront position in the fight to reclaim the mandate and respect for the people’s expressed wish for the emergence of M.K.O. Abiola as the duly elected President.
Relying on interpersonal experiences and encounters during the pivotal point in Nigeria’s socio-political history, Alake shared insights on Tinubu’s role in the build-up to the election and the aftermath of Babangida’s controversial annulment.
He said: “So Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was in the faction of Late General Yar’adua up until the moment we got to the primaries of the SDP which produced MKO Abiola as the candidate of the party. At the time, that was when the real political activism of Bola Ahmed Tinubu came to the fore.”
“He (Tinubu) threw his hat into the ring with everything he had; men, materials, everything to prosecute the June 12 election we had the election, which in my view, up till today is the most adjudged, freest and fairest election we’ve ever had in Nigeria.”
“Because on that day there was not a single electoral violence recorded in any angle in Nigeria. On that day, all the myths that have been plaguing Nigeria; ethnicity, creed, class, religion, everything was broken because everybody trooped in, voted en masse for MKO Abiola across the country.”
“In fact, in Kano, he defeated Tofa, his opponent on the NRC ticket, and the ticket was Muslim-Muslim. And people voted across the country without recourse to any ethnicity or religious affinity and that I christened as a journalist, and wrote an article and said that was the day Nigeria was reborn. All the diversities, intricacies that pulled us down were disregarded on that day. I refer to it as a spiritual curse for that election to have been annulled because that was the day Nigeria attained statehood.”
“The annulment came, we plunged into the struggle and Tinubu became a star boy, poster boy in that struggle. He threw every inch of his energy, every ounce of his resources into prosecuting the struggle. Tinubu became a resource person, he became physically active. He was directing a lot of operations.”
“We were carrying out covert and overt operations to actualize the de-annulment of June 12 and restore the mandate of June 12. Tinubu became so admirable in his operational strategies, his capacity and uncanny ability for organization came to the fore, and he was spending his money.”
Alake, who noted Tinubu’s personal sacrifice and generous donation of his private fund as a successful professional in defense of democracy and the rule of law, dismissed notions that the APC candidate acquired his wealth through abuse of public office after his election as the Governor of Lagos State in 1999.
“When some ignoramuses today claim that he made money in government and all that, I laugh at their abysmal ignorance. This man has been spending money for struggles, pursuing causes, long before he ever dreamt of becoming governor. I can excuse the youths who were either too young or not born at the time not to know and appreciate the enormity of this fact. But I cannot excuse the adults who were here.”
“The category of adults I can excuse are those who suffer from amnesia. But there are some who just choose to engage in selective forgetfulness which they call selective amnesia out of envy because everybody knows that Asiwaju threw his hat in the ring, pursued the struggle assiduously all to the extent that we fought and fought the ministry with NADECO.”
“Tinubu was one of the funders of the NADECO struggle long before the advent of this democracy we are practicing now. He did all of that, eventually we made the country ungovernable and life uneasy for Babangida at the time, so much so that Babangida had to step aside,” Alake said.