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Tinubu’s June 12 speech and ‘Lagos mentality’

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President Bola Tinubu

By Chris Gyang

Once again, President Tinubu has displayed that ‘Lagos mentality’ for which other Nigerians have continued to berate Lagos leaders and citizens generally. It is an inordinate penchant to perceive the entire universe, most especially other parts of Nigeria outside south western Nigeria, from the myopic prisms of their socio-economic and political milieu and experiences. For them, anything that comes out of any other part of Nigeria, no matter how grand or spectacular, can never equal that which emanates from Lagos. In short, the world inexorably begins and ends in Lagos or, when they must be magnanimous to their own kith and kin, the south western part of this country. On June 12, 2024, the president delivered a national broadcast commemorating Democracy Day in which he honoured the sacrifices of pro-democracy activists who fought for the restoration of Chief Moshood Abiola’s annulled June 12, 1993, mandate. However, Mr. Tinubu’s speech conspicuously omitted the contributions of key figures from other regions outside the South West. This glaring oversight perpetuates a biased narrative, diminishing the roles played by Nigerians from other parts of the country in that and other struggles for democracy in Nigeria.For instance, the Middle Belt region, comprising states like Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, and the southern parts of Kaduna State, among others, was also a hotbed of resistance against military rule and a crucial hub for pro-democracy activism both before and after the years following the annulment. Several notable figures from this region played pivotal roles in the June 12 struggle, yet they were deliberately overlooked by the president.For instance, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar, the first civilian governor of Plateau State, and the first National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contributed significantly to the June 12 struggle. Lar’s political acumen and vision were essential in mobilizing support from the Middle Belt and other regions, helping to build a broad-based coalition that transcended ethnic and regional lines. Lar was subjected to severe punishment, including imprisonment and harassment, by the military government for insisting that the military must go back to the barracks where they rightly belong. The history of democracy in Nigeria will not be complete without mentioning the name of this great politician, fondly known as ‘The Emancipator’ all over the country for his masses-oriented/grassroots politics which won him so much admiration among ordinary folk. There was also Air Commander Jonah Jang (rtd.), another Plateau State indigene, who had meritoriously served as military governor in the old Gongola and Benue states. He also figured prominently in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) – a broad coalition of Nigerian democrats formed on 15 May, 1994, with the aim of making the General Sani Abacha military junta hand over to Chief Abiola.

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