Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Between Hope ’93 and Renewed Hope ’23

Between Hope ’93 and Renewed Hope ’23
June 10
17:40 2023

The immediate trigger for this intervention is the recent announcement of the public holiday declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday, June 12, 2023. It’s in commemoration of Nigeria’s freest election won in 1993 by the inimitable philanthropist and pan-Africanist turned politician, Bashorun MKO Abiola.

The campaign slogan for Bashorun Abiola’s campaign was Hope ’93.  Interestingly, when campaigns commenced for party primaries prior to the general elections of 2023, Governor Yahya Bello, a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party, pulled what some of us considered an unsettling surprise. His was what emerged as the closest to the Hope 93 slogan adopted by Bashorun MKO Abiola of blessed memory. Governor Bello had expressed a most visible interest in the nation’s presidency. Several others too, including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has since been sworn in on May 29, 2023, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

No one knew Bello as a politician in 1993. Asiwaju Tinubu had already become a key player in the nation’s polity, indeed in the same political camp as the winner of the June 12, 1993, election. If anyone had been tempted to dismiss Bello’s aspiration, that temptation was promptly diminished by his choice of the director-general of the campaign in the person of Hafsat Abiola-Costello, the daughter of Bashorun Abiola. Not surprisingly, Hafsat spoke confidently about the prospect of the success of her candidate. She expressed so much confidence that she left no one in doubt about her sincerity. Like Bello, Hafsat was a ‘political minor’ in 1993. Interestingly, Hope ’93 finally became Renewed Hope ‘23 after GYB offered to step down for BAT

Abiola’s investment in the media yielded humongous dividends, perhaps not in naira term but far in excess of it, in support of Abiola’s presidential ambition. On the stable of Concord Press initially then were two newspaper titles namely National Concord,  Sunday Concord, and much later, Weekend Concord.  There were also Isokan, Amana, and Udoka for speakers of Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. Joining all of those titles later were Community Concord titles dedicated to grassroots news in all the regions of the country with editors sourced from their respective communities. Concord practically became a household name as Community Concord titles complemented the titles run in indigenous languages.  MKO’s influence largely helped to be cultivated by his ceaseless philanthropy had its visibility driven sustainably by the Concord titles that have endeared themselves to the people whose affairs they reported consistently.


Since Bashorun died in 1998, Nigeria has not had any daring multi-sectoral investor and philanthropist of similar rating in financial, educational, and wisdom endowments all combining to endear any individual to members of the Nigerian general public across geographical, religious, and all other possible divides. The Concord press, therefore, had so much to grind and process for the public and indeed got readily complimented even by opposition media if only for them to be more relevant and perceived to be in tune with reality. Those opposition media were run by tested professionals

The media space like others has since received its fair share of technological disruption with or without the readiness of different societies in different parts of the world. But no one can stop the speeding train of technological transformation, just that human wisdom manifest in restraint and caution must be activated to hold sway always, now that information production, dissemination, and consumption have all been radicalised altogether.

In 1993 as a Concord reporter, I was here in Saudi courtesy of my fatherly boss, Alhaji Liad Tella, then Concord’s deputy editor who doubled as the chair of the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board of Osun state. Being a journo himself, many of his pilgrims rallied around him for updates digested probably from his access to BBC, VOA, etc on the just concluded presidential election. We all expressed our wishes only to the extent to which technology made them possible, at best through the telephone to limited people back home. We had banked on Hope 93 for MKO Abiola so much that many of us initiated possible post-MKO presidency business ideas. Nothing to suggest the devilish manouevrings of the soldiers of evil in government. None of our business projections, therefore, materialised following the truncation of the entire Hope 93 dream by the self-acclaimed evil genius.


It’s really been a tortuous journey with several hopes dashed. The light shines at the end of the tunnel today at last after we have all had to be extremely cautious ignoring all provocations, as the evil genius had since given ‘birth’ to worse, indeed unimaginable geniuses. Even as the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential election had emerged against the unimaginably devilish designs and projections of fake prophets and supposedly conservative bureaucrats like the central bank governor Emefiele (Godwin?), Nigerians still had to be prayerful to see Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu sworn in as the president and commander-in-chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

As opposed to 1993, this year 2023 presents a situation of massively liberalised media space with charlatans perhaps being more visible than more credible sources. Information flow is no longer an issue but the quality of the information circulating. Media moguls’ dominance of the space is no longer the same as even the moguls now have to get used to cohabiting with lesser-known players, some of them, with followership far outclassing those of established media on assorted social media platforms especially, Twitter.

As a witness to the anxiety of Nigerians and the numerous ideas and projections triggered by Hope 1993 later betrayed, it is fulfilling that the gradual, though painful restoration of the same appears to be emerging. It’s gratifying that while we’re still in the Holy Land, our prayers are being answered. Alongside religious rites, therefore, business projections and designs as well as other beneficial ideas such as we attempted in 1993 may again be contemplated perhaps by those who still have the opportunity such as Allah has granted me. How can Nigerians like me be able to imagine a replication of the disaster inflicted on our dear country 30 years ago and not suffer depression? ‘Renewed Hope 23’ is indeed the last resort.

Incidentally, the gross abundance of media relative to the situation in 1993 has been quite challenging, thus provoking whimsical solutionist suggestions that may not be effective. Such is the concern for social media’s impact that India has banned Tiktok while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates don’t allow Whatsapp calls. And as I script this, Nigeria has announced the banning of Binance operations in the country. It is worth noting that scholars and professionals have consistently called for massive media education. I dare add that the suggested media education should be across all levels in the form of a general education recipe for all school-age children as well as young men and women in tertiary educational institutions.  The intervention may be spiced up with enhancements bothering on the rule of law contents so that the supply and demand sides of social media will be alive to the legality or otherwise of their activities.


Until and unless we are made to consciously appreciate the roles of individuals in cultivating and sustaining the vital needs for the general preservation of peace in society, we may not reckon properly with our different levels of interface with media with their possible consequential multiplier impact on society.

Akanni (PhD), a media and conflict scholar, wrote in from Medina where he is currently a member of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) national media committee on the 2023 Hajj. Follow him on Twitter @AkintundeAkanni

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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