Since the return to democracy in 1999, there hasn’t been a political campaign as colourful as that leading to the June 12, 1993 elections.

Those who were not privileged to witness it have heard stories of funfair,  pizzazz, drama and spectacle that filled the election.

Tinubu & M.K.O Abiola
President Tinubu & M.K.O Abiola

In hindsight, these are also the elements one would find in a classical tragedy, which was what this episode in Nigeria’s history eventually became.

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The 1993 elections stirred Nigeria towards the democracy it enjoys today.

Hope 93

Memories of those campaigns comprise of planes flying over Jos and dropping campaign leaflets of “Hope 93” and MKO Abiola’s manifesto, with the “farewell to poverty tagline-his promises of free healthcare for Nigerians and free education, among others.

These flyers and the promises they contained fell like confetti.

The atmosphere then, even before those elections held, could not be more similar.

There were fanfare and freebies- soaps, rice, milk, imported clothing items, all the things that would now qualify as “stomach infrastructure” that were being handed out to electorates.

Bashir Tofa, Abiola’s opponent in the election and candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) did not have Abiola’s flamboyance.

He could not match him for popularity or his philanthropy.

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His campaign simply could not match Abiola’s ‘Hope 93’.

The Tough Love

But General Ibrahim Babangida’s government took a critical step.

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The decision to break the regional structure of Nigeria’s politics by setting up only two political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC).

They funded these parties and built secretariats for them in every corner of the country, showing a tough love, one that the country needed.

Every politician of any leaning would have to fit into these two-party system, and fit they did.

This was what made it possible for the SDP to field two Muslims, Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, as candidate and running mate.

And they would have won- or they did, by some accounts, even though official results were never announced- defeating Bashir Tofa, even in his native land, Kano.

The acknowledgment that the June 12, 1993 elections were free and fair was universal.

The Shocker

What potentially could have been Nigeria’s finest hour, however soured within hours.

Sadly, that Hope 93 began to diminish in the minds of Nigerians.

First, there was a court ruling by Justice Dahiru Saleh of an Abuja High Court, annulling the elections.

Then General Babangida, in a nationwide broadcast, announced the annulment of the election, much to the shock and chagrin of Nigerians and the international community.

No one bought the story by military strongman, IBB, that he was “pressured” by his Armed Forces Ruling Council to annul the elections.

Abiola himself, in his famous Epetedo Speech, described the annulment as an “abominable act of naked political armed robbery”.

“Hope ’93,” quickly turned to Despair ’93 and soon ended up as Outrage ’94.

30 Years After ‘June 12’

Today marks 30 years since that day in 1993 when Nigerians had the hope to finally get the country they deserved, as they cast their ballots in those elections.

In these 30 years, we have never been close to the Nigeria Abiola promised during his campaign.

The tragedy is not only losing that chance to finally get it right, it is also that we lost so many good men and women while failing to get it right.

That is the sad reality of our nation’s history.

Each time, they grace campaign after campaign, awakening huge expectations but end up giving excuses when they are leaving office.

Obasanjo, Yar’Adua/ Jonathan, Buhari, all of them took us through this sheer-rigmarole and still remaining on the same spot with power, security, food and agriculture, education, manufacturing, real productive sectors and others, all begging for expressions.

Renewed Hope

Thirty years after the historic 1993 elections, President Bola Tinubu, using the same manifesto of ‘Hope’ found his way into power.

With a Muslin-Muslim ticket, he also came.

The difference here is that, he promises Nigerians ‘Renewed Hope’ and many can not help but wonder what hope he is renewing.

These category of persons have lost hope in the country already.

Also Read: June 12: President Tinubu Names Heroes Of Democracy

Will Bola Ahmed Tinubu be different?

What should Nigerians expect from Tinubu?

These questions continue to trouble many people since Tinubu took over from Buhari.

He is intelligent, daring, open to innovations, generous to friends and a very fierce enemy to foes. He also has the knack for picking the best brains.

If we are to judge him with his Lagos’ performance, the country should be ready for a radical change.

But the sun is setting on his age, one of the issues that critics cling to in putting forward their no-no for the man who says he is different.

Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda features similar campaign promises of Abiola’s ‘Hope 93’.

From health, education, employment and also ending poverty.

The journey of 30 years appears to be around the same mountain, with the people now reluctant of moving away from the base.

Nigerians are eager, they wonder if President Bola Tinubu would finally give them the hope promised thirty years ago.

On June 12 every year, Nigeria celebrates its Democracy Day, find out why in the video below.

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