THE camp of the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was literally at war with Minister of State Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo over the ‘June 12 struggle” and support for All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday.
In a tweet on his verified Twitter handle @fkeyamo, yesterday morning, Keyamo tweeted: “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 (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) was more pivotal from exile. Atiku was one of the first to abandon June 12.”
Not done, he tweeted again: “After the June 12 struggle, ‘strangers’ emerged from nowhere and hijacked the democratic train at the centre; OBJ who opposed June 12 became the greatest beneficiary of the struggle. The election of BAT in 2023, a true hero of June 12, will largely address this anomaly of 1999.”
Countering, Mr Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, said Keyamo was attempting to re-write history, adding that Atiku never abandoned June 12.
“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 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 also to know what Atiku’s response was: “(I said) I am not going to be part of a brief administration.”
We know those who participated in the Abacha government which dealt a death knell to the revalidation of the June 12 mandate. Some are late, some are still alive. Atiku was one of those who did not want to have anything to do with the Abacha military rule, not even with a long spoon.
“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 ostensibly because of their commitment to democracy.
Consequently, leaders like Yar’Adua and Atiku were marked down. And in continuation of its struggle to restore democratic rule, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), the group that Atiku belonged to, addressed a press conference in Lagos on January 12, 1994 and asked the military to exit from the governance of the country by December 31, 1994. The aftermath of that was the arrest and detention of Yar’Adua in February 1994. Atiku and other PDM leaders challenged the detention in court.
Shortly after his mentor’s arrest in the phantom coup plot, Atiku narrowly escaped an assassination plot in his Kaduna home in which seven lives were lost in the bid to foil the plot to kill him because of his opposition to Abacha’s government and military dictatorship.
“Following the bloody attack in Kaduna, Atiku was persuaded to proceed to exile. The import of this thread is to put a lie to Keyamo’s baseless claim that Atiku abandoned June 12 and was not consequential in the struggle to enthrone the democratic rule of today.”
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