Dele Momodu, journalist and former presidential candidate, says the opportunity for fostering true unity among Nigerians was lost following the annulment of the 1993 elections.
The result of the election, which was presumed to have been won by MKO Abiola, was annulled by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida before they were announced.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in 2018, formally conferred late MKO Abiola with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
While announcing the investiture, Buhari also declared June 12 as new date for Democracy Day, in place of May 29, the usual date.
Speaking on Sunday when he featured on ‘The Toyin Falola Interviews’, a virtual programme organised by Toyin Falola, a professor of history at the University of Texas, Momodu said Nigeria can get back on the path of true unity, if a “detribalised” leader, who has built on the Abiola template, emerges.
“Human beings globally are never one. Even in America, there is racism. It’s how the leadership manages it that will determine how pronounced it will become,” he said.
“We’ve never been one in Nigeria. I’m sure you’ve read and heard about the amalgamation that took place in 1914. So, you have different nationalities, ethnic groups forced together.
“At some point, we were managing ourselves, until that first coup when some of our leaders were summarily executed and then the ethnic tension started rising from that moment onwards.
“So, Nigeria is not one, but I believe Nigeria can be one if we have the right type of leadership. We lost that opportunity 28 years ago when chief Abiola won an election that was not in any doubt. He was voted for across the length and breadth of Nigeria. But unfortunately, some people chose to kill that election and we have suffered and paid dearly for it in the last 28 years. By 2023, it will be exactly 30 years that we lost that opportunity.
“So, I believe and I’m dreaming that someone will emerge, who has that template that Abiola had. Until we find that template, and we revalidate that example, it may be difficult for Nigeria to unite.
“In fact, the biggest problem confronting Nigeria today is the lack of unity and that is why everybody is agitating that they want to go their separate ways.”