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‘He abandoned struggle’ | ‘You lied’ — Keyamo, Paul Ibe clash over Atiku’s role in June 12

‘He abandoned struggle’ | ‘You lied’ — Keyamo, Paul Ibe clash over Atiku’s role in June 12
July 07
22:33 2022

Paul Ibe, media adviser to Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says Festus Keyamo “lied” about Abubakar not being involved in the “June 12 struggle”.

The June 12 election, said to have been won by MKO Abiola, was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, former military head of state, and this plunged Nigeria into political crisis that had a negative impact on the economy.

Abiola, however, died in government custody in 1998 after he was detained for trying to reclaim the mandate.

Although Nigeria had celebrated Democracy Day on May 29 since the return to civil rule in 1999, in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 as a public holiday and the Democracy Day.


In a series of tweets on Thursday, Keyamo, minister of state for labour, said Atiku “abandoned” the fight for democracy represented in the June 12 election, adding that the only person who played a significant role was Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“No Presidential candidate today had anything to do with the June 12 struggle (which is the foundation of democracy we are enjoying today) except BAT and (to be honest) Sowore as a student leader, but BAT was more pivotal from exile. Atiku was one of the first to abandon June 12,” Keyamo wrote.

But responding in a statement, Ibe said the minister “lied”, and accused him of trying to distort history.

“The events of the June 12 crisis are too well documented for anyone to seek to distort it. Keyamo told a blatant lie when he said Atiku ‘abandon(ed) June 12’. Atiku never abandoned June 12,” the statement reads.


“The truth is that the former Vice President was marked for assassination because of his strident opposition to military rule. Indeed, Abacha actually appropriated his INTELS company, tried to kill him in Kaduna and he managed to escape only after some of his security aides had been killed.

“Flash back to the events leading up to the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries in Jos that threw up Abiola as its presidential candidate. What Keyamo will not say is that it was Atiku’s sacrifice of historic stepping down for Abiola that metamorphosed into his victory in the primaries and subsequent success in the June 12, 1993 election.

“I wish to remind Festus that the same Atiku that he is in a hurry to malign was approached to serve as the Head of the Interim National Government (ING) while he was in London. And it may interest him to know what Atiku’s response was: ‘(I said) I am not going to be part of a brief administration’.”

Ibe added that the former vice-president was one of those who strongly opposed military rule, saying Abubakar wrote an open letter to Sani Abacha, former head of late, in 1994 asking him to hand over to a democratic government on January 1, 1995.


He added that Abacha did not take the open letter lightly, and tried to “assassinate” Atiku in his Kaduna home, but the latter “narrowly escaped”.

“’We decided not to participate in Abacha’s government because we did not want any more military rule’, Atiku was quoted on page 237 of his biography by Dr Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba of blessed memory,” the statement reads.


“Even after prominent members of the political class among them those close to Abiola were picked to serve in Abacha’s government, no member of the Yar’Adua group, among them Atiku, wanted to serve in that regime dictatorship ostensibly because of their commitment to democracy.

“Atiku was instrumental in birthing June 12 following his stepping down for MKO Abiola to emerge as the SDP candidate and eventual winner of that historic election.


“It was to his credit that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party worked assiduously for the exit of the military and enthronement of the democracy that he is still actively involved in deepening. History is stubborn, and not even Festus Keyamo or any other can erase it.”


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