The camp of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has described the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN) as a liar over his recent statement about the happenings surrounding June 12 in Nigeria.
The media aide to Atiku, Paul Ibe in a lengthy response on Thursday night, accused Keyamo of trying to rewrite history.
According to Ibe, Atiku was not only instrumental to the struggle for June 12, but was a key part of the struggle and had to flee into exile when his life was threatened by the military regime.
He added that Atiku even rejected the chance to be the head of the interim national government because he believed in a full democratic process and wanted nothing to do with the military regime.
Ibe in his response also went on to list some of the sacrifices Atiku had to make in the interest of the June 12 struggle and for Chief MKO Abiola who was the focal point of the struggle.
Keyamo earlier on Thursday had stated that Atiku was one of the first persons to abandon the June 12 struggle.
He added that only Bola Tinubu and Omoyele Sowore as a student leader were actively involved in the June 12 struggle among all the candidates vying for the 2023 presidential seat in Nigeria.
However, Ibe in a statement titled “2023: Atiku, June 12 And Keyamo’s Attempt To Rewrite History hit back at Keyamo, saying the June 12 events and everything surrounding it are well documented and the Minister should not attempt to feed lies to the public.
The full response reads:
“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 VP 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 & he managed to escape only after some of his security aides had been killed.
Flash back to the events leading up to the SDP primaries 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 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 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”.
“We know those who participated in the Abacha govt 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 didn’t want to have anything to do with the Abacha military rule, not even with a long spoon.
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 the late Dr Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba
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 the Abacha 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 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.
Atiku, it was, who was worried about the protracted political crisis and decided to do something about it by sending an open letter to Abacha in 1994 in which he proposed a 7-point solution to the crisis, the highpoint was the hand over on January 1, 1995 to a democratically elected government. Atiku’s position was eventually adopted by a resolution of the 1994 Constitutional Conference to set an exit date for the military.
Abacha did not find this move funny. He caused the detention of Yar’Adua and sought to separate him from Atiku.
Abacha wooed Atiku to dump Yar’Adua & pave the way for him (Abacha) to work with Atiku. But Atiku is not one to sell anyone for a mere porridge. He didn’t return to Abacha after he was asked to go think over the proposal to dump d man who helped him cut his teeth in politics.
Even though Abacha was determined to neutralize Yar’Adua and his PDM, Atiku was not going to be a willing tool. Abacha eventually hatched a plot that implicated Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and others in a coup.
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 his government and military dictatorship.
But Abacha was not satisfied with the imprisonment of Yar’Adua & the intimidation of Atiku. His next move was to seize his lucrative business, NICOTES, renamed it INTELS and appropriated Atiku’s and Yar’Adua’s shares in the logistics company he co-founded with Gabriel Volpi.
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.
Atiku was instrumental in birthing June 12 following his stepping down for MKO Abiola, and worked assiduously for the exit of the military and enthronement of the democracy that he is still actively involved in deepening. History is stubborn, it cannot be erased.”