August in National History

Last week, we dug into history to unearth the importance of August in world history. In that piece, which was the second part of an article written twenty years ago, we examined events and persons born in the month and how these have shaped, made or affected their world. This is the final and concluding part of the piece, in which we will be briefly examining the significance of August in Nigeria’s history.

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August is significant in our national history. It is interesting to note that the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, which has today redefined our socio-political existence as a people, was not done in June. The machineries were actually put in place in the month of June, precisely from June 10, 1993 when it became manifest. At that point, all sorts of chicanery were toyed with to stay action on the elections, when it had become clear that the ploy of the military to remain in power or to have the polls stage-managed in favour of their stooge was a flop. Legal and dubious machinations were put in place as well after June 12 to stop the electoral process, which included the official declaration of results.

June 12 election was annulled in August. On August 23, 1993, President Babangida’s plot was unveiled through an unsigned press release from the office of the spokesman of his Chief of General Staff, in which the June 12 election was briefly described as a fraud and had thereby been cancelled. On August 26, Babangida himself came on live television to broadcast that the military had decided to annul the elections because of the multiple cases of malpractices to which the military high command was not disposed. That singular annulment has had a huge cost on Nigeria: six years of extreme form of military dictatorship, emergence of killer squads and elimination of some of Nigeria’s best statesmen, the lives of several hundreds of activists and citizens protesting the inhuman act, hundreds of thousands in revenue and foreign investment, its enviable position in international politics, and good leadership.

Babangida too has reaped from the seed he had sown. Years after stepping aside, he has not succeeded in stepping back to power. He had committed political suicide by the infamous act of annulment on August 26, 1993. He had even had to hurriedly quit power on August 26, 1993 rather than on August 27 that was generally anticipated. And on August 27, 1993, Nigeria had for the very time, a mockery of democracy called Interim National Government. It was a total damning of the collective will of the people. Such “interim” government was not desirable because someone had popularly won an election and was in waiting to be sworn in. But the August 27 contraption would not last, as on November 17, it would be blown away by the ill and whirl-wind of military misadventure.

Other events in August have defined or redefined our political destiny. On August 27, 1985, General Buhari was overthrown by his own lieutenant, General Babangida in a palace coup; while Babangida himself stepped aside on August 26, 1993, a day to his eighth anniversary in power. On August 1, 2006, President Obasanjo was in New York to commence talks on how to give Bakassi away to Cameroon and on August 6, the Orange Tree Agreement formally ceding the oil-rich area to Cameroon was sealed. On August 14 2008, the official handing over was done. In August 2009, the Nigerian government commenced what would be known as “amnesty” as it granted pardon plus gifts to the Niger Delta militants who had laid siege to the oil creeks and committed lots of treasonable offences against the state. The famous (or infamous) merger of political opposition to the ruling party, berthing the All Progressives Congress (APC), sailed through in early August.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) submitted its Report on findings on the ecocide in Ogoniland to President Goodluck Jonathan on August 4, 2011. The report showed that there had been widespread pollution of land areas and wetlands of Ogoniland by Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for over 50 years. The UNEP Report disclosed that Ogoni communities had been exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons in outdoor air and drinking water at elevated concentration and that community members have been drinking water from wells contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen at levels over 900 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline and 1000 times above Nigerian drinking water standards, and that all the water bodies in Ogoni were polluted, which would require 35 years to clean up. That was a very important exposition to Nigeria and the wider world in the month of August, and an eye-opener on why there had been upsurge of militancy in the Niger Delta for ages.

The archives are replete with incidents in August that have shaped both national and global life. And to validate this, just few days ago, the Defence Headquarters declared that they had killed the Boko Haram leaders, Abubakar Shekau and his deputy, thus giving a new twist to the clampdown on Islamist terrorism. If this is true, that is good news for Nigeria as Boko Haram may be permanently handicapped. It could also be bad news as it could be an elixir for emotional outbursts and reprisals from his die-hard faithfuls. The claim however validates the bookmakers’ position that August often is a month of delivery of a pregnancy of turning points. We look forward to and pray to God for the very bright sides of August though. And as for all those of us born in this great month of August, I wish to congratulate and wish us all, many happy returns!

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Dr. Folarin is the Head of Department of Political Science and International Relations at Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria buy cheap arimidex onlineAnastrozole generic cost

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