MKO Abiola’s 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

November 2, 2022

MKO Abiola died 24 years ago, but he’ll always be remembered as Nigeria’s president that never was. Even though he was the winner of the 1993 presidential election, his village people — General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha — denied him his mandate.

Abiola’s presidential campaign is still mostly remembered for the tragedy that it was, but one of the other most memorable things from that period is his campaign ad which promised hope for Nigerians. In the video, the main character — let’s call him Polycarp — complained about the most frustrating things for him as a Nigerian in 1993.

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

Meet Polycarp: he believed in1993 Nigeria was one election away from becoming a paradise

With the 2023 elections just around the corner, it’s only fitting to check in on Polycarp’s list of complaints to see how much things have changed — or not — in 30 years. 

If Polycarp was angry about 1993 Nigeria and jumped inside a time machine to 2022 Nigeria, what would he meet?

No work

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

Polycarp’s time machine may want to skip 2022 Nigeria if it’s gainful employment he’s seeking because we have some very bad news for him. Nigeria’s 2020 unemployment report pegged the unemployment rate at 33% which is the highest it’s ever been. Polycarp would still be unemployed and broke in 2022, and desperate enough to start selling affiliate marketing courses on Facebook.

No food

Like everything in Nigeria these days, the prices of food items aren’t obeying the laws of gravity. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that food inflation rose to 23.34% in September 2022 which is the highest it’s risen in more than 15 years. 

Even worse, nearly 20 million Nigerians are potential victims of famine, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). What this means is that 10% of Nigerians face hunger of Biblical proportions. For context, that’s the combined population of Eritrea, Namibia, Gambia, Botswana, Gabon, Lesotho, and Guinea-Bissau at risk of hunger inside just one country.

No house

If Polycarp was complaining about housing issues in 1993 when you could probably rent or buy a home with money saved under your bed, then he probably wants to skip to 2072 Nigeria or something. Because in 2022, Nigeria has a housing deficit of about 28 million units and even the homeowners are being forced out of their houses by seasonal floods and terrorism.

No light

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

Nigeria’s national electricity grid is more well-known than the governor of Jigawa State — and the fact you just tried and failed to remember his name proves my point. But the national grid isn’t known because it’s the eighth wonder of the world or sponsors Twitter giveaways. It’s always on everyone’s lips because of how frequently it collapses, leaving Nigerians in darkness. Whatever jungle Polycarp thought Nigeria was in in 1993, the country is still in the Dark Ages.

Expensive transport fares

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

One of Polycarp’s most prominent complaints was the transport fare eating into his daily ₦2k, and we have news for him from the future. Just over the past year alone, the average bus fare within Nigerian cities rose from ₦435.36 in September 2021 to ₦615.69 in September 2022. The recurring fuel scarcities don’t help matters and the situation is likely to worsen with the proposed removal of fuel subsidies in 2023.

Out-of-school children

When Polycarp complained about school being a headache, the campaign ad showed a dozen shirtless little children roaming the streets. In 2022, that demographic has ballooned into a population of 20 million out-of-school children forced out of the classroom by government neglect, poverty and insecurity. The government keeps paying lip service to the problem and even 2023 presidential candidates are still talking about setting up committees to tackle it.

Hospitals aren’t working

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

Nigerian doctors are some of the most prominent groups participating in the japa wave and even the president of the country travels to London every three market days to take paracetamol because the health sector isn’t where it needs to be. Not much has changed between 1993 and 2022. 

MKO Abiola's 1993 Campaign Video Is Still Valid in 2022

Polycarp was dealing with “so so palava” in 1993, but Nigerians are dealing with real shege in 2022. The unfortunate lesson here is 2023 presidential candidates are still using the same issues to campaign nearly 30 years after they already reached a critical point.

Whatever choice Nigerians make in 2023 will determine whether things improve or we have to walk the wilderness for another 30 years. Polycarp may want to skip even further into the future.

ALSO READ: This Nigerian Wants to Vote in 2023 but He Won’t Leave Germany

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