Arthur Nzeribe: This Man Died Too
By: Deji Yesufu
Arthur Nzeribe died today. Saharareporters broke the news earlier in the day but a family source has now confirmed it as true. The family has requested the public to allow them to grieve in peace but it is not likely that they will be granted their wishes because of the ignominious place that Nzeribe occupies in the annals of Nigerian history.
In June 1993, the month Nigeria went to the polls to carry out what has now come to be known as the freest and fairest election in our nation’s history, I was writing my final exams at my secondary school and will soon have plenty of time in my hands. The months that followed were marked with many political shenanigans, all of which were aimed at scuttling the elections because the Ibrahim Babangida led government could not imagine handing over power to civilians – especially a civilian government led by the independent minded and brilliant M. K. O. Abiola.
One of the tools that Babangida used to scuttle that elections was the working of a group called the Association for a Better Nigeria (ABN). The person behind the ABN was Arthur Nzeribe. No one knows how much he was paid to lead such an effort against the Nigerian people but he succeeded in instituting legal cases that the military government will then use as their basis to nullify the June 12, 1993 elections. It is the same Nzeribe that died today.
While the Nzeribe family mourn the passing of their patriarch, the rest of us Nigerians can put on our thinking caps and consider what exactly might be said of us when we die. Whatever else religion teaches us, we know that we are born into this world to leave it better than we met it. If all the memory of you at your passing was your effort at destabilizing a nation – leaving its democratic institution worse than you met it, history will tell your tale at your passing. On the other hand, some people die and there are no end to the eulogies that follow them. I am convinced that the true mark of a life well lived is the number of lives we made better while we were alive. Nzeribe’s posterity speaks for itself.
This man died today. Tomorrow it could be you. Consider.