By EMEKA EJERE
Our dear erudite Prof Humphrey Nwosu, thank you for taking that path of integrity 27 years ago that our democracy might be saved.
Nigerians will forever celebrate you not only for the veracity of conducting the freest, fairest and most credible election in Nigeria’s history but also for the uncommon courage of going ahead to announce the result against the wish of the powers that be.
That election was adjudged the most transparent and credible in the history of elections in Nigeria and the whole of Africa because of the innovation and ingenuity brought into the process by the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) headed by you.
For the first time, Nigerians forgot about ethnicity, religion and other divisive factors and went after their convictions. God knows how far we would have advanced had that culture been allowed to stay.
Only a daring mind like you could have defied the despotism of the military junta at the time to declare the result of the June 12, 1993 presidential election that has come to change the democratic narrative of the nation forever.
Even when an unnecessary committee headed by the late Sanni Abacha, was set up to look into the circumstances surrounding the results, you were bold enough to tell Abacha to his fury that there was nothing to look into as the election had been clearly won by Abiola.
You reminded Babangida and Abacha that the constitution did not make any provision for the results of elections to be vetted by the Supreme Military Council before announcement, insisting that you and your team should be allowed to finish what you had started. You are one in a million.
President Mohammadu Buhari has inadvertently made you even more popular by unjustly excluding your name from the list of the heroes of that historic event last year when he declared June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day.
Honouring the acclaimed winner of the election, Moshood Abiola; and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, without recognizing your strength of character that made the exercise second to none, was a serious omission.
While the honour to Abiola is perfectly in order, it is questionable for Kingibe, who abandoned that mandate and joined the government that came by coup, thereby rebelling democracy.
This would have been an opportunity to appreciate you for doing what Nigerians have been yearning for, from the electoral umpire and have never had from any other chairman after you.
You and your commissioners were promised national honours by the Babangid regime if you conducted a good election. The same government ironically annulled the exercise when you performed even far above their expectation but the outcome did not go their way.
In a country where elections are conventionally fraught with irregularities owing to a culture of compromise, no amount of accolade would have been too much for rare breeds like you.
In a clime where professors have fainted at the sight of carrot, you turned down offers of negotiation that would have channeled several millions of naira into your pocket just to defend the constitution and keep to your oath of office.
It is sad that last year you did not receive the honour you truly deserve from President Buhari. But the injustice will only strengthen the place you occupy in the hearts of Nigerians and all lovers of democracy across the world. That is a greater honour.
And above all, God is honouring you here on earth with good health and good life for standing by the truth when it mattered most. He will honour you even the more in heaven when you exit this world. Congratulations professor of integrity. Thank you our hero of democracy.