ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA) – Professor Jerry Gana, former Minister of Information and National Orientation, says the annulment of the 12 June, 1993 presidential election was a tragic mistake that was not supposed to have happened.
Gana said this when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna on Nigeria’s democracy; the journey so far.
He said that the former military president, retired General Ibrahim Babangida, meant well by organizing the election but for some powerful forces made him to annul it to suit their selfish interests.
“It was a tragic mistake, it should not have happened but since it happened may God help us to get out of it,” he said.
The former minister said that the election was a period Nigerians united against evil forces but along the line the people that never meant well for Nigeria had their way.
He averred that democracy was better than any other form of government across the globe.
“Therefore, we must stay with democracy in order to better Nigeria because it delivers freedom, human rights and a good number of other things,” he said.
Gana said that in all Nigerians needed to thank God for keeping the people and the country together especially, from 1999 to 2023 because the nation’s democracy had had many challenges.
“What happened since all these years destroyed other countries when it happened there but we are still living together as a people,” he said.
He said that many institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others had been put in place to ensure good governance, fairness, justice and equity.
“It is not yet an uhuru, we are not there yet although a lot of progress have been made.
“Right now the right of people to vote and their votes be counted is there, so our democracy is being refined,” he said.
The former minister said that the country had recorded huge success in its electoral reform from inception to date.
“The recent Electoral Act (reform) is a huge success recorded for democracy in Nigeria.
“Now the elections are free, faire and accountable,” he said.
Gana said that the country’s economy improved to the extent that it became one of the best economies in Africa.
“If our crude oil, solid minerals and agricultural potentials are harnessed well Nigeria will rule the world,” he said.
Gana also said that the communication sector had improved tremendously.
“I remember when we came on board in 1999/2000 we had less than half a million lines of telephone across Nigeria.
“But right now we have about 84 million lines, that means that there is a great revolution in the sector,” he said.
He however, blamed INEC for the current electoral challenges where many election results were being challenged in the court for alleged electoral manipulations.
“Recently, INEC has not been fair to Nigerians in conducting national elections.
“Therefore we have a long way to go in our democracy if we allow this ugly development to continue.
“It is true that we have introduced a lot of modern technology to improve our electoral system but these technologies are not being respected today by INEC.
“To me, it is a major disappointment that INEC was not fair enough to give us the leaders of our choice,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the country would perfect its democracy soon.
“‘After going through the current democratic process, it is my hope that the next one will be better,” he said.
Similarly, Professor Mohammed Kuta-Yahaya, a former Secretary to Niger Government, described June 12, 1993 presidential election as a moment of political history when Nigerians expressed satisfaction for democracy because they were tired of continuous military dictatorship.
He said that it was unfortunate that the then Supreme Military Council under the leadership of Babangida annulled it for whatever reason.
“Whatever that made the military to annul June 12 presidential election did not go down well with the people of the country because that was when they demonstrated to the whole world that they are one people that believe in democracy.
“This part of why former President Muhammadu Buhari recognised June 12 as democracy day in Nigeria, although the date was changed.
“It was a day Nigerians came out en mass and freely voted for the leader of their choice irrespective of cultural and religious affiliations,” he said.
The former Secretary to the State Government called for caution in the country’s electoral system to end the political event such as June 12 in order to improve the electoral process.
He urged President Bola Tinubu to recruit competent hands into his cabinet to ensure unity, progress and security of the country.
Kuta-Yahaya a lecturer at the University of Ibadan enjoined the country’s leaders to make education their first priority in order to empower the people and make them better persons in the society.
“Quality education will bring about rapid socio-economic advancements because it will make the people self reliant.
“If you make education your first charge, you are going to cause a revolution that will outlive you as a leader to better the people and the country.
“If you don’t educate the people especially, the youth to become good citizens they will turn to terrorise you the leader tommorow.
“As far as I am concerned, education is the bedrock of any meaningful society,” he said.
He advised leaders in the country to re-trace their steps back to the ideals of our founding fathers when Nigerians coexisted peacefully toward national development.
NAN reports that Gana is a Nigerian scholar, politician and one time senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1983.
Also the Director, the Directorate of Food, Roads and Infrastructure (DFRRI).
He was also, the Director, Mass Mobilisation for Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) under the Babangida’s regime.
Gana was the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the Interim National Government of late Ernest Shonekan.
NAN also reports that Kuta is a Nigerian academic, writer and professor of Agricultural and Foresty, University of Ibadan.
He served as Secretary to Niger Government under governor Babangida Aliyu, and was also commissioner for information and agriculture in the state.