On this day, Nigerians woke up with the HOPE of ending their sufferings with the election of a man who promised them HOPE.
Religion and ethnic sentiments were defeated as Nigerians voted a Muslim-Muslim ticket and the North rejected Bashir Othman Tofa, their own son and opted for a Yorubaman.
Alas! The opportunity to break our ethnic and religious barriers once and for all was killed – June 12, 1993 presidential election was annulled.
Then followed the Epetedo declaration and the arrest of MKO Abiola, the man who gave Nigerians promise of HOPE.
They took MKO Abiola away alive and brought him DEAD four years after!
#Here is the transcript of the last interview MKO Abiola granted as he was being whisked away.
BBC: What is happening in your house? Are you being arrested?
MKO: I am being arrested. I am just going out now with the police (MKO and supporters are singing the national anthem)…Hello. There is a large crowd here. I am being escorted out to detention by singing the national anthem.
BBC: Why are they arresting you?
MKO: They are arresting me on an allegation of felony—namely treason or something like that. They are not doing anything, they are just taking me away. Please let me go, you know I am delaying them (police).
BBC: And so where are you? Are you in your car?
MKO: I am in my car now.
BBC: Is it police who are with you in your car or are they escorting you?
MKO: The commissioner of police is in the car with me and my senior wife (Kudirat) is in the car with me
BBC: Why are they letting you talk on the phone to the BBC while they are in the middle of arresting you?
MKO: They have come to arrest me, not to arrest my mouth! (laughs).
BBC: You sound very cheerful about it Chief Abiola?
MKO: Of course (laughing). It is all part of democracy here.
BBC: And you are happy to go to the police and await whatever charges they are going to file against you?
MKO: I am not in any way disturbed by it. Any sacrifice is in order. If it will bring democracy, peace and posterity to Nigeria.*
BBC: Is it possible to speak to the commissioner of police who is with you in the car?
MKO: I don’t know if the commissioner of police is authorised to talk; he cannot talk to the press.
BBC: What is your advice now to your supporters? Many of them we heard a moment ago?
MKO: I told them before I left home to just stay calm. It is very, very, important that they stay calm.
BBC: So you are appealing for calm? You don’t want them to take any direct action in your support?
MKO: NO, NO, NO, NO.
BBC: You still say you are the President of Nigeria; but it is not much good if you are going to be in jail?
MKO: Well……, Mandela was in jail for 27 years; Kenyatta was in jail. I suppose that is one of the qualifications you need in this part of the world. Don’t worry yourself my friend.
24 years after, the religious and ethnic barriers broken on June 12, 1993 are now more stronger than they were then.
The HOPE of having a Nigeria where all Nigerians are treated equally is still a mirage. The country is now more divided than ever before.
Who will present us with another HOPE?
God help Nigeria and its people.