Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 12 and railway signs and a Labour meltdown?

It was only after I'd put up my last post that I realized it was June 12 and I felt I ought to say a word or two about it. Thirteen years ago, on this date, Nigerians voted in what many agreed was the freest and fairest elections ever held in the country...I remember that day vividly and the excitement building up to it- who can forget the campaign jingle "MKO is ouuu..rrr man O! Pity that all that joy and promise was cut short by Babangida and his pals for reasons best known to them...which brings me to one of my frustrations with Nigeria- the absence of good quality investigative journalism.

Why thirteen years after June 12 do we still know so little about why that election was annulled?

Why is there no national monument to MKO Abiola, who (like him or loathe him) became the symbol; and a martyr for Nigerian democracy?

Perhaps it is because of our poor collective memory that we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past....

Saw a sign in a train station in Valencia at Easter. It read "Please be aware that not everyone in this station is a traveller. Take care of your belongings" or words to that effect. How much more elegant and restrained than London Underground's brash "Thieves and pickpockets operate in this station, please take care of your belongings"

It seems not a day goes by now without the announcement of some new New Labour government "scandal" or another- yesterday it was the scandal of tax credits being paid to immigrants who did not qualify for them, today it was about the Assets Recovery Agency set up to confiscate the assets of convicted criminals- but which turns out to have cost far more to set up and run than it has ever collected....I'm not quite sure if there is a vast media conspiracy dripfeeding these negative stories on a continuous basis, or whether the government is in such a shambles as it appears to be......whichever it is, I fear that this constant barrage will do the Labour government lasting damage.....are we perhaps witnessing the last days of a Labour government in Britain? I suppose the answer is that there's time enough before the next elections for things to turn around...but I'm not holding my breath...

Just finished Jake Arnott's truecrime and Sarah Waters' The Night Watch, so have been immersed in a London rather different from what it is now....but no less engrossing. I suppose that is one of the skills of a good writer, the ability to recreate a time and place so vividly it seems real...

Now reading Nicole Krauss' A History of Love- It's quirky and different and I can see why it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize

Pity none of the African teams at the World Cup have won their first matches so far, I can hear you say what did you expect, but hey we're all allowed to dream.....all eyes on Tunisia tonight to hopefully give Saudi Arabia a drubbing....


ayoke said...

"Nigerians on the march again (on the march again
Looking for Mr. President
M.K.O. is our man oh!
Na him go make our country better (He's the man oh)
Na him be the hope for tomorrow!
Make you vote for am, oh my brother
I say make you vote for m, oh my sister
Na him be our only hope oh!"
I say na him be the hope for tomorrow!
M.K.O. is our man oh!

Morountodun said...

I must admit to being out of touch with Nigerian elections. Its interesting as I remember recently having a chat with some friends who had recently voted in their Country's elections from their UK Embassies (Bulgaria & Pakistan). I don't know how I'd vote in the Nigerian Elections if I had the opportunity. I guess the only certainty would be I wouldn't be voting for anyone who used to wear Khaki.

The Labour Honeymoon period is long over so the knives are drawn. All the investigative journalists will now be looking for negative articles as they probably imagine this sells papers. Tony Blair needs to thanks his lucky stars that Englands world cup participation is keeping some of these negative articles off the front pages.

Anonymous said...

@ayoke: yeah i remember that song too. And the tofa one: "tofa is the answer tofa, ding ding ding ding ding". The 1993 elections is one of the evergreen childhood memories i have. Too bad the man died fighting for his mandate. I personally would love to his face on a Naira note. CBN/FG which levels, honour the man now!

Anonymous said...

I remember that song like yesterday, and MKO's northern rival (cant even remember his name). we're a funny bunch us Nigerians. Babangida did so much in the past to mess up our country; loot, plunder, kill steal, annul valid elections, put another dictator in charge after he left...and look what we're about to do - re-elect him. i'm not sad or anything, i just realise its the Nigerian way.
I guess theres no tribute to MKO cos even though you said "whether you like him or not..." the man does have a truck load of skeletons in his cupboard.
dont even get me started on the pantomime that is british politics.