Buhari’s declaration on June 12 has huge significance for Nigeria’s democracy. Many have described it as a political masterstroke and they are right. It was a strategic political move. Those who sold the idea to the President should be commended and the President should also be commended for heeding to their advice.
Aside the political aspect, it also heals many wounds. This is one of the major righting of an old wrong done by government in the country and it is not only significant, it is phenomenal. Last year, this government also announced that pension will now be paid to those who were part of Biafra police.
For those who don’t know, June 12 was a major wound especially to those from the South Western part of Nigeria and for those who don’t know it was as a result of June 12 that OBJ was conscripted to the presidential race in 1999 and his victory ensured just to placate the southwest. To those who argue that Buhari was part of a government that incarcerated Abiola, that’s correct but you see one thing about stuffs like this is that it doesn’t matter who does it, but knowing that it’s the right thing to do is what matters. If IBB had done this himself it would still have been huge.
Some have argued that this was done to garner votes from the south west. That remains to be seen but it will sure have some effect on some demographics especially to those between the ages of 48 and 75years old. My mum called me yesterday and asked,”sho gbo nkan ti Buhari se” (Did you hear what Buhari did? She went on and on and could noticed she was elated about it. And just so we are clear, this is very different from the MAULAG/UNILAG debacle.
Saying sorry and righting wrongs of the past has always been the hardest for any government.
Righting the wrongs of the past by government is not new, it is now common in advanced societies. It heals old wounds and binds the society together. In 1988 then PM of Canada Brian Mulroney apologized in the House of Commons for the internment of Japanese- Canadian during the Second World War.
In 2008, Prime Minister Harper apologized for the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants between 1885 and 1923 and in 2017. Current Canadian PM Justin Trudeau apologized for the abuse and cultural loses at residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ten years ago In Australia, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized to the indigenous people of Australia for the laws and policies of successive governments that inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss to them. Ian Hamm, an aboriginal welcomed the apologies and said he’s been waiting a lifetime to hear it.
For the first time in History, the British government in 2013, formally apologized for the colonial crimes committed by the British Imperial officer’s during the 1950s “Kenya Emergency”. Compensation running into 19.9million pounds (about $31million) was also announced to benefit about 5,228 Kenyan claimants.
In 2010, the British government also apologized to children from London slums sent to work in colonies from later 1800s to 1939. Seven Canadians travelled to London just to hear that apology in the British parliament.
What President Buhari has done is huge, yes it has political undertone for now but it will open doors for other wrongs that needs to be right by the Nigerian government. Some of which include:
The Biafra war
The Odi Massacre
The Zaki Ibiam Massacre
The maltreatment and eventual death of Funmilayo Ransome- Kuti
The killing of Nigerians daily by the Police and Army
The extortion of Nigerians daily by SARS and the Nigerian Police
The killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others
The degradation, underdevelopment and pollution of the Niger Delta and many more
These healings will go a long way. Buhari has open the
floodgate, let the healings begin.