Frank Kokori: The Struggle for June 12
392 Pages
English
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Frank Kokori: The Struggle for June 12

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392 Pages
English

Description

Kokori: The Struggle for June 12 is the candid account of Chief Frank Kokori, former General Secretary of The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG). It details the roles he and other individuals played in the quest to revalidate the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. The book details, in depth, the events before, during and after the election, up until the incarceration of Chief Kokori as well as the political fall-out which followed.

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Published by
Published 17 July 2014
Reads 1
EAN13 9789788431718
Language English
Document size 16 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0066€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Exrait

FRANK KOKORI:
THE STRUGGLE
FOR
JUNE 12FRANK KOKORI:
THE STRUGGLE
FOR
JUNE 12
Safari Books Ltd
IbadanPublished by
Safari Books Ltd
Ile Ori Detu
1, Shell Close
Onireke
Ibadan.
Email: safarinigeria@gmail.com
© Frank Kokori
Publisher: Chief Joop Berkhout, OON
Deputy Publisher: George Berkhout
First Published 2014
All rights reserved. This book is copyright and so no part of it may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in
any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical, electrostatic,
magnetic tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without
the prior written permission of the author.
ISBN: 978-978-8431-65-7Dedication
his book is dedicated to Nigerian oil workers, the arrowhead of Tthe democratic struggle.
And,
My beloved wife, Esther, and my children, who were my pillars and
motivators in that struggle to save a bleeding nation.
vContents
Dedication v
Foreword ix
Preface xv
Heroes of Democracy xix
Prologue : MY DREAM xxiii
Chapter 1: Kingibe, Have You Cleared this with
MKO? 1
Chapter 2: My First Encounter with Kingibe
and Politics 11
Chapter 3: M.K.O. Abiola and Me 35
Chapter 4: Beginning our Fight for June 12 45
Chapter 5: Battling Abacha 63
Chapter 6: NUPENG Slammed! Kokori Nabbed! 89
Chapter 7: Frank Ovie Kokori 97
Chapter 8: From Shangisha to Abuja 103
viiChapter 9: Bama Nightmare 115
Chapter 10: From the Outside World, with Love 127
Chapter 11: Prison Routine 135
Chapter 12: Kingibe’s Missionary Journey to Bama 141
Chapter 13: Freedom 145
Chapter 14: Prison Pen and Poems 155
Chapter 15: Esther and the Children in the Struggle 189
Chapter 16: A Life Rooted in Trade Union Struggles 199
Chapter 17: My OMPADEC Misadventure 225
Chapter 18: My Trade Union Detensions 233
Chapter 19: Post-June 12 Blues 239
Chapter 20: How Pro-Democracy Activists
Miscalculated 251
Chapter 21: My Own Honours Roll 263
Chapter 22: What Nigeria Lost in June 12 273
Epilogue : Odyssey After NUPENG 287
Index: 329
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FOREWORD
n marking the 20th anniversary of the annulment of the June I12, 1993 Presidential election last year, the Lagos State Chapter
of the Nigerian Union of Journalists held a public lecture. On
that occasion, I pleaded with Comrade Frank Ovie Kokori, who
delivered the keynote address to document his historic intervention
in the titanic battle for the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria.
touches to the manuscript of his memoir. I never heard again from
Comrade Kokori, until a couple of weeks ago when he requested
me to write the Foreword to his book, titled FRANK KOKORI: THE
STRUGGLE FOR JUNE 12. Owing to my personal involvement in
the struggle, I accepted the request unconditionally, regarding the
debt of gratitude the progressive moment owes Comrade Kokori,
the democratic struggle.
As a pupil counsel in the Comrade Alao Aka-Bashorun-led
Peoples Chambers at Ebute Metta, Lagos, in the 1980s, I had known
cases for the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers
(NUPENG) when Comrade Kokori was its General Secretary. All
the efforts of the highly corrupt Ibrahim Babangida junta to take
over NUPENG were rebuffed by Comrade Kokori and other leaders
of the union. Owing to his incorruptibility, the union leader was
highly respected in and outside the Labour movement.
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Under the Trade Union Act, workers were totally prohibited
from engaging in political activities. Being convinced that the
demand for humane working conditions under military rule could
not be divorced from the struggle for democracy, Comrade Kokori
and other progressive forces in the Labour movement collectively
decided to take part in the political transition programme of the
General Ibrahim Babangida junta. At both the Constitution Review
Committee and the Constituent Assembly, where Comrade Kokori
represented the Nigeria Labour Congress, he made his mark. He was
establish the Nigeria Labour Party (NLP). However, following the
refusal of the junta to register the party, the NLP resolved to merge
with the ‘little to the right’ Social Democratic Party (SDP) which
sponsored Chief M.K.O Abiola, who later won the June 12, 1993
Presidential election.
The NLC condemned the annulment of the results of the election,
which was adjudged ‘fair and free’ by local and international
observers. However, Comrade Paschal Bafyau, who was the NLC
President kicked against the motion of Comrade Kokori of NUPENG
for a general strike. At that juncture, NUPENG decided to part ways
with the NLC. Both NUPENG and the Petroleum and Gas Senior
Staff Association (PENGASSAN) jointly resolved to embark on an
The military regime ignored the threat and both unions paralyzed
the economy. Added to the strikes were mass protests called by
the human rights movement. The political crisis forced General
Babangida out of power. The strikes and the mass protests continued
under the Interim National Government hurriedly installed and
headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, a retired Chief Executive of UAC.
suspicious of the romance between him and the military oligarchy,
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headed by General Sanni Abacha. He was particularly disturbed
to learn that General Abacha was compiling a list of ministers,
when the plan was to sack the ING for a democratically elected
government headed by Chief Abiola. When General Abacha
eventually removed Chief Shonekan from power, he offered
Comrade Kokori a ministerial position. He, however, rejected
the offer and insisted on the inauguration of Chief Abiola as the
democratically elected President of the Nigeria. Comrade Kokori’s
bid to persuade Chief Abiola not to allow the Vice President-elect,
Babagana Kingibe, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Alhaji Lateef Jakande
and other supporters of the June 12 mandate, to serve in the Abacha
junta proved abortive. Comrade Kokori was proved right as Abiola’s
supporters betrayed and abandoned him, while the head of state,
General Abacha, quickly consolidated power.
Comrade Kokori entertained doubts when Chief Abiola informed
him sometime in June 1994, that he had decided to declare himself
President. As far as Comrade Kokori was concerned, the declaration
was coming too late. Notwithstanding his reservations, he pledged
the unalloyed support of his union. As soon as the proclamation was
made by Chief Abiola, NUPENG and PENGASSAN commenced an
were proscribed, the strike continued. The junta made desperate
moves to arrest Comrade Kokori who had then gone underground.
Upon his arrest at Yaba, Lagos State, he was brutalized by security
operatives who subjected him to physical assault before driving him
to a detention centre.
Comrade Kokori took solace in the fact that his wife, Esther, was
able to inform the press of his abduction. Soon after his abduction,
the industrial action embarked upon by the oil workers collapsed.
For four years thereafter, Comrade Kokori was detained at Bama
prison in Borno State. His detention conditions were horrible,
but his spirit was unbroken as he confronted his interrogators
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with uncanny audacity. They were later forced to admire his
commitment to principle in the midst of adversity. In his absence,
the junta had attempted to demoralize him. In fact, the late Chief
Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, and I had concluded arrangements to
defend him when it was rumoured that Comrade Kokori was going
to be charged with corruption and economic sabotage. But the junta
dropped the idea and decided to hold him hostage, as there was no
iota of evidence to press charges against him. He did not regain his
liberty until on June 16, 1998, following the sudden death of the
murderous dictator, General Abacha.
Even though he was subjected to mental and psychological
trauma while his incarceration lasted, he did not hesitate to single
and his immediate family, who stood by him through thick and thin,
and his comrades in NUPENG and PENGASSAN, as well as others
in the pro-democracy and human rights movement, for sustaining
the struggle which he eventually culminated in the restoration of
civil rule in the country.
Comrade Kokori’s account is the story of the involvement of
the trade union movement in the democratic struggle. It is not the
complete story, but a challenge to others who played vital roles in
In telling his own story, Comrade Kokori could not hide his
political naivety. In his relationship with the leaders of the SDP, he
relied on ethnic alliances and ran to the NUPENG when he needed
personal security for political support. Comrade Kokori equally
allowed his personal friendship with many opportunists in the
FRANK KOKORI: THE STRUGGLE FOR JUNE 12 is a honest
historical account of the involvement of Comrade Kokori in the
democratic struggle in Nigeria. In the book, the trade union leader
xiicould not hide his contempt for Labour and political leaders who
embraced opportunism in place of principle, and allowed corrupt
military dictators to truncate democracy in Nigeria. However,
through the book, Comrade Kokori has demonstrated the capacity
of the progressive extraction of the trade union movement to
liberate the country from imperialism and its local lackeys in the
political and business sectors.

Femi Falana, SAN
May, 2014
xiii183(1*
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PREFACE
his book is coming fourteen years behind schedule, and it has Talso gone through a lot of refocusing.
I am particularly happy that God has made it possible for me
to put this testament in print, over fourteen years after the gates of
joy is further heightened because I am now able to tell the story of
that epoch-making period, raw and bluntly, and to put in proper
perspective, the heroic role of the organised Nigerian oil workers,
through their trade union organisations - the National Union of
Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the arrowhead
of that struggle, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff
Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), a group that before then
was not known for any radical action. PENGASSAN came on board
collaborated effectively to make the strike what it was.
Nigeria’s maximum dictator, the Late General Sani Abacha,
incarcerated me for leading oil workers in the National Union of
Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on the country’s
most virulent civilian action against a military regime. When
Abacha died and I regained my freedom after four years, I began
making preparations to write a book, detailing my NUPENG years
and my Labour and political struggles, planning to release it as soon
as Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola was – as we supposed – released from
detention to head the Government of National Unity. However,
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Abiola did not come out alive. I was too shattered by this anticlimax
of Abiola’s death to piece together my thoughts, talk less of piecing
together a book. And so the book project became an abandoned
project. With Bashorun Abiola’s death, I lost, not just the motivation
and the will to write, I lost a man I thought would be my biggest
admirer. However, mine was a story that must be told and so the
_ book project had to be reignited even if nearly a decade late.
As fate would have it, I met the then Chairman of Spectrum
Publishers, Chief Joop Berkout now Chairman Safari Books
Limited, at a public function in 2005, and he reminded me of the
long-awaited book, which he had offered to publish in 1998. He
encouraged me to document my own unique perspective on this
landmark aspect of contemporary Nigerian history.
An author has the most pleasant task to thank those who have
assisted him to complete his work. And here I must thank the
Editorial Consultant, Felix Oboagwina, a journalist, who did a
yeoman’s job on the manuscript, having himself been a participant
observer in some of the story I have to tell. I also thank the
Publishers, Safari Books Limited, Ibadan. My wife, Esther, and our
children, also deserve commendation for laying their lives, limbs,
liberty and livelihood for the struggle. To a large extent, they helped
me to survive those times and they also never ceased to encourage
me to put pen to paper.
Although I must acknowledge that my deputies in NUPENG -
Comrades Joseph Akinlaja and Elijah Okougbo - in their different
books, have written a slice of what they saw NUPENG do in the June
the battle), I must however say that they have not told half the story.
So much transpired between me and key actors in the key milestones
of that historical era that only a book written by me can cover. And I
have unveiled some of those behind-the-scene occurrences here in
my own exclusive record, covering General Sani Abacha, Bashorun
xviAbiola, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola,
Chief Anthony Enahoro, Comrade Kojo Agamene, Chief Felix Ibru,
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Comrade Paschal Bafyau, President
Olusegun Obasanjo, NADECO, OMPADEC, Chief Gani Fawehinmi,
Canada, USA, Britain, USSR, NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, Bama
Prison, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Chief Tony Anenih, and
many issues and personalities that dominated that unforgettable
era.
I cannot pretend that mine will be the last story on June 12. No
way. I only hope that my book will provoke more books.
Frank Kokori
September 2006
xvii