Tag Archives: abiola

Would MKO #Abiola Have Been a Good President?


On the 25th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election approaches, I ask a question that Nigerians rarely ask, and will never know the answer to.

The facts of the annulment are well known. After the painstaking eight year conduct of a “transition programme” to return Nigeria to civilian democratic rule after 9 years of military rule, the then military government led by General Ibrahim Babangida voided the results of the June 12, 1993 election that was supposed to herald the return of democracy. That act added the word “annulment” to the standard Nigerian vocabulary. Although the full election results were never disclosed, everyone knows that Moshood Abiola won. However, given his antecedents, background and temperament, would Abiola have been a beneficial President for Nigeria?

The story of Abiola’s life is a classic rags to riches story that could be a Hollywood film. He was born into poverty in a large family. His birth came after a series of failed pregnancies, still born children and infant deaths in his family. He eventually attended the famous Baptist Boys High School in his home town of Abeokuta, in Ogun State. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is another alumnus of that school. Afterward he studied accountancy at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He then worked with the multi-national pharmaceutical company Pfizer. However Abiola made his name and riches when he joined the telecommunications company International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT). Abiola eventually became the chairman of ITT and via series of cordial relations with key army officers, Abiola amassed so much wealth, influence and fame that he once boasted of being the richest African on Earth.

Two of Abiola’s closest military friends were then Minister of Communications Brigadier Murtala Muhammed and Lt-Col Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola met Babangida in 1974 when Abiola was selling radio systems to the military. Babangida was sent to evaluate the quality of devices being sold by Abiola. According to Babangida “From that time the relationship developed and he was always around”.

Abiola also met Brigadier Muhammed after bravely confronting Muhammed over a series of debts owed to Abiola’s company by Muhammed’s Communications Ministry. The normally fearsome and ruthless Muhammed was impressed by Abiola’s courage and the two struck up a friendship. With Babangida and Muhammed eventually becoming Heads of State, Abiola exploited his relationship with them to secure extensive patronage via contracts with the government and became spectacularly rich in the process. His business empire grew massively as did his bank account balance, number of wives, concubines and children.

With his perpetual wealth ensured, Abiola turned to politics and joined the ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The NPN had an elaborate zoning system for the distribution of government portfolios – including the presidency. Since the presidency had been zoned to President Shagari (from the north), Abiola assumed that when President Shagari’s term of office expired, the NPN would zone the presidency to the south, and he would be allowed to run for President. He was wrong. His presidential ambition was rebuffed by the powerful Minister of Transport Umaru Dikko who told him that “the presidency is not for sale to the highest bidder”. Abiola “retired” from politics soon after – totally exasperated with the NPN. He would have his revenge. President Shagari reported that several frustrated politicians engaged in what he termed “coup baiting” against his government. Abiola had a massive publishing empire was used to launch frequent vitriolic attacks on President Shagari’s government with the intention of discrediting it sufficiently to psychologically prepare the public for its replacement by a military regime. In his memoirs (“Beckoned to Serve”), President Shagari later obliquely referred to the financing and support given to military conspirators by an unnamed “well known business tycoon”. Although he declined to name this tycoon, contextually it was an obvious reference to Abiola. Babangida went further in unequivocally confirming Abiola’s role in financing a coup plot against Shagari and using his influence to destabilise Shagari’s government. He later revealed that Abiola:

“was also very good in trying to mould the thinking of the media. We relied on him a lot for that. So there was both the media support and the financial support.” (Karl Maier – Midnight in Nigeria)

President Shagari was overthrown in a military coup on December 31, 1983 and replaced by a military government in which Abiola’s friend Babangida was Chief of Army Staff (number 3 in the regime). Less than two years later Abiola was at it again and financed another military coup which eventually led to his friend Babangida becoming Head of State. Abiola’s wife Simbiat was opposed to his involvement in politics. However after she died in 1992 Abiola returned to politics and ran for President in an election stage managed by his bosom friend Babangida. As a southern Muslim (the religion of the north) and who was a close friend of the Head of State, an Abiola presidency seemed a virtual certainty. As results began trickling in, it became obvious that Abiola was headed for a landslide victory. He even defeated his opponent Bashir Tofa in Tofa’s home state of Kano. For the first time Nigerians voted across ethnic and religious lines as Christians voted for a Muslim, and northerners voted for a southerner. However something went very wrong. On June 23, 1993 the election was annulled and Abiola was denied the presidency. Five years later Abiola was dead, having been incarcerated for treason for declaring himself the rightful president.

So what would have happened had the election not been annulled and had Abiola ruled? A powerful hard line faction in the military bitterly opposed his candidacy. Babangida later said that had Abiola become President, he would have been overthrown in a violent military coup within six months. The then Director-General of military intelligence Brigadier Halilu Akilu was quoted as saying that “Abiola will be President over my dead body”. Other officers in the regime such as General Sani Abacha and Brigadier David Mark (current Senate President) promised to overthrow or even kill Abiola if he became President. With such opposition to him in the army, an Abiola presidency would almost certainly have led to new round of bloody coups and counter-coups that would have given the military a pretext to retain power. Nigeria might even have still been under military rule today.

But what if the military had supported Abiola? Would an Abiola presidency have been good for Nigeria? Abiola did not win the June 12, 1993 election because he was a massively popular candidate. He won and was adopted as an unlikely symbol of democracy by a public that was desperate to rid Nigeria of increasingly corrupt and authoritarian military rule. To the public, any candidate was better than the military.

Olusegun Obasanjo warned that“Abiola is “not the Messiah that Nigerians are looking for”.

How (in)accurate was Obasanjo’s assessment of Abiola?

Having come from a poor background Abiola was extremely generous to the poor and made grandiose charitable donations. These took the form of bulk buys of rice and tinned milk, to constructing new wings in new universities. He also awarded several hundred scholarships from his own personal fortune. Abiola made such gestures country-wide and did not limit them to his own ethnic or geographic group. He had contacts and friends across all ethnicities and regions of the country. It was also hoped that Abiola’s stupendous wealth meant that he was rich enough not to be tempted to loot the state treasury. A rich multi-billionaire southern businessman from the south, who adopted the religion of the north and had extensive local and international contacts, the perception was that if Abiola could not govern, no one could.

However Abiola had many weaknesses which might have proved his undoing had he become President. His first and foremost weakness was for female flesh. His appetite for women was such that a decade after his death, not even his own family is aware of how many wives and children he had. Educated estimates put the number of his wives somewhere between 25 and 40, and children anywhere between 60 and 120. He also had a number of concubines. Such a complicated personal life could have proved embarrassing and destabilising for a President in the public eye and would probably have occupied several column inches for gleeful tabloids.

Although from humble origins, in adulthood Abiola was no firebrand political reformer and he was unlikely to rock the boat or risk physical challenge. In many ways he was part of Nigeria’s corrupt elite and a government led by him would have continued with business and corrupt dealings as usual. His emergence as a presidential candidate was predicated on his membership of that corrupt elite. In the end the same military Leviathan which Abiola sponsored and supported ended up devouring him.

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Anniversary of the June 12, 1993 Election Annulment


Today is the 18th anniversary of the June 12 1993 election won by MKO Abiola which was annulled by the military government led by General Ibrahim Babangida. Brief video update above. Also, a great highlight from the archives below of the presidential debate between Abiola of the SDP and Bashir Tofa of the NRC. This was the first televised presidential election debate in Nigeria’s history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPiFHzSi5X4&feature=related

PART 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey8e_KToAxQ

PART 3:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1OrAJRluEY

Babangida: The Real Reason I Annulled June 12


http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=134857

From This Day.

IBB: The Real Reason I Annulled June 12

By Omololu Ogunmade, 02.05.2009

R90151096

For the first time since the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late business mogul, Bashorun MKO Abiola, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has given a reason for the annulment. He said he was compelled to nullify the election because of security threats to the enthronement of a democratic government at the time.

Babangida made this disclosure yesterday on a TV programme, Moments with Mo, anchored by Mo Abudu and broadcast on MNet channel of DSTV.

Babangida, who described the annulment as “unfortunate” and revealed that he would launch a book on the saga next year, said having been on the steering wheel of government at the time, he and the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) knew that the new democratic government to be installed would sooner than later be toppled through another military coup deta’t, which he said his government wanted to avoid.
According to him, his regime had decided that it would be the last administration that would ascend the seat of power through coup, adding that it would make no sense to install a democratic government that would be truncated within another six months.

He, however, admitted that the June 12 presidential election was free and fair and also the best of all elections ever conducted in Nigeria’s history. “June 12 was accepted by Nigerians as the best of elections in Nigeria. It was free and fair. But unfortunately, we cancelled that election. I used the word unfortunately, for the first time. We were in government at the time and we knew the possible consequences of handing over to a democratic government. We did well that we wanted ours to be the last military coup deta’t. To be honest with you, the situation was not ripe to hand over at the time.

“Forget about the wrong things that happened in politics. The issue of security of the nation was a threat and we would have considered ourselves to have failed, if six months after handover, there was another coup. I went through coup deta’t and I survived it. We knew that there would be another coup deta’t. But not many people believed what we said. They could have allowed me to go away and then they (coup plotters) would regroup and stage another coup. This is how coups are staged – one man will always come to complain. And he will try to convince you about his complaints,” Babangida said.

He said security threats to the advent of democracy at the time culminated in fresh plans to conduct another election within another six months after June 12 annulment, with better strategy, but which he said he could not achieve as a result of the hostility which accompanied the cancellation. According to him, another election was conceived to come up in November 1993.

He revealed further that he was determined to conduct another election which culminated in the constitution of an Interim National Government (ING), which he noted was eventually toppled by a military coup staged by General Sani Abacha.

Babangida implied that what happened to the ING was eventually the fate that would have befallen the civil rule which his regime would have handed over to.

The former military president said the whole concept of his regime’s plan to hand over to a civil government was aimed at effecting a lasting change which could put paid to rigging. This notion, he said resulted in the decision to register only two political parties, the Social Demoratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC). “When there are two things, you have an option – this or that or nothing. We tried to regulate the number of political parties. We knew what to do,” he said.

Babangida, who expressed fears that his revelation might put him in trouble, was not categorical about his presidential ambition come 2011. Instead, he played around it, saying he was not getting younger, adding that he would rather make himself available to make certain corrections whenever he deems fit.

JUNE 12, 1993 ELECTION: FULL RESULTS



Since the 15th anniversary of the landmark June 12, 1993 election just passed, I thought it was an opportune time to publish the full results of the election. On June 15, 1993 the National Electoral Commission (NEC) released the results from 14 states (including the Federal Capital Territory). The following day (June 16, 1993) the Abuja High Court ordered that further announcement of the results should be suspended. Here are the full results of the election:

STATE

NUMBER OF NRC VOTES

PERCENTAGE OF VOTES FOR NRC

NUMBER OF SDP VOTES

PERCENTAGE OF VOTES FOR SDP

TOTAL VOTES

WINNER

Abuja (FCT)*

18,313

47.84

19,968

52.16

256,500

ABIOLA

Abia*

151,227

58.96

105,273

41.04

334,490

TOFA

Adamawa

167,239

54.28

140,875

45.72

414,129

TOFA

Akwa Ibom*

199,342

48.14

214,787

51.86

371,288

ABIOLA

Anambra*

159,258

42.89

212,024

57.11

847,274

ABIOLA

Bauchi

524,836

60.73

339,339

39.27

406,132

TOFA

Benue

186,302

43.06

246,830

56.94

282,180

ABIOLA

Borno*

128,684

45.60

153,496

54.40

342,755

ABIOLA

Cross River

153,452

44.77

189,303

55.23

472,278

ABIOLA

Delta

145,001

30.70

327,277

69.30

308,979

ABIOLA

Edo*

103,572

33.52

205,407

66.48

427,190

ABIOLA

Enugu

284,050

51.91

263,101

48.09

349,902

TOFA

Imo

195,836

55.14

159,350

44.86

228,388

TOFA

Jigawa

89,836

39.33

138,552

60.67

726,573

ABIOLA

Kaduna*

356,860

47.80

389,713

52.20

324,428

ABIOLA

Kano*

154,809

47.72

169,619

52.28

442,176

ABIOLA

Katsina

271,077

61.30

171,162

38.70

286,974

TOFA

Kebbi

144,808

67.34

70,219

32.66

488,492

TOFA

Kogi*

265,732

54.40

222,760

45.60

352,479

TOFA

Kwara

80,209

22.78

272,270

77.24

1,033,397

ABIOLA

Lagos

149,432

14.46

883,865

85.54

357,787

ABIOLA

Niger*

221,437

61.90

136,350

38.10

484,971

TOFA

Ogun*

59,246

12.22

425,725

87.78

964,018

ABIOLA

Ondo

162,994

15.58

883,024

84.42

437,334

ABIOLA

Osun

72,068

16.48

365,266

83.52

641,799

ABIOLA

Oyo*

105,788

16.48

536,011

83.52

676,959

ABIOLA

Plateau*

259,394

38.32

417,565

61.68

1,026,824

ABIOLA

Rivers

640,973

63.37

370,578

36.63

469,986

TOFA

Sokoto

372,250

79.21

97,726

20.79

469,986

TOFA

Taraba

64,001

38.58

101,887

61.42

176,054

ABIOLA

Yobe

64,061

38.41

11,887

63.59

38,281

ABIOLA

*States in which results were released. The results were released in 14 states only.

Vote Breakdown and Analysis


Voter turnout was higher in the south than in the north. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Moshood Abiola received over 8 million votes, and won in 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate Alhaji Bashir Tofa received over 6 million votes and won in 10 states only. Over 14 million people voted. Abiola won in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe states, and the Federal Capital Territory. Tofa won in Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Enugu, Imo, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Rivers and Sokoto States.

Abiola’s victory was comprehensive as he won almost 60% of the total votes cast. Only in two states (Kebbi and Sokoto) did Abiola fail to obtain at least one-third of the votes. Abiola even defeated Tofa in Tofa’s home state of Kano.

Voting Patterns

Although the voting pattern has subsequently been cast as unprecedented in cutting across ethnic, religious and geographic patterns, the true picture is a little more subtle. It is true that Christians voted for Muslim candidates. However Christians had little choice in the matter as the Presidential candidates of both parties were Muslim. The SDP was led by two Muslims: Abiola, and his Muslim vice-presidential candidate Babagana Kingibe. The NRC was also led by a Muslim candidate: Alhaji Bashir Tofa. Although Tofa’s running mate was Christian, both Tofa and Kingibe were Kanuri Muslims. Hence the concept of Christians voting for Muslims was an in-built certainty as any vote necessarily had to be for a Muslim since both presidential candidates were Muslim. Additionally, voting patterns in the south-west were solidly ethnic as the overwhelming majority of votes cast were for Abiola. In the south-west mainly Yoruba states of Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo, Abiola scored crushing victories, and received over 80% of the votes in each of those states. He also received over 85% of the votes in Lagos state.

WHAT IF ABIOLA HAD BECOME PRESIDENT?


As the 15th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election approaches, I ask a question that Nigerians rarely ask, and will never know the answer to.

The facts of the annulment are well known. After the painstaking eight year conduct of a “transition programme” to return Nigeria to civilian democratic rule after 9 years of military rule, the then military government led by General Ibrahim Babangida voided the results of the June 12, 1993 election that was supposed to herald the return of democracy. That act added the word “annulment” to the standard Nigerian vocabulary. Although the full election results were never disclosed, everyone knows that Moshood Abiola won. However, given his antecedents, background and temperament, would Abiola have been a beneficial President for Nigeria?

The story of Abiola’s life is a classic rags to riches story that could be a Hollywood film. He was born into poverty in a large family. His birth came after a series of failed pregnancies, still born children and infant deaths in his family. He eventually attended the famous Baptist Boys High School in his home town of Abeokuta, in Ogun State. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is another alumnus of that school. Afterward he studied accountancy at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He then worked with the multi-national pharmaceutical company Pfizer. However Abiola made his name and riches when he joined the telecommunications company International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT). Abiola eventually became the chairman of ITT and via series of cordial relations with key army officers, Abiola amassed so much wealth, influence and fame that he once boasted of being the richest African on Earth.

Two of Abiola’s closest military friends were then Minister of Communications Brigadier Murtala Muhammed and Lt-Col Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola met Babangida in 1974 when Abiola was selling radio systems to the military. Babangida was sent to evaluate the quality of devices being sold by Abiola. According to Babangida “From that time the relationship developed and he was always around”. Abiola also met Brigadier Muhammed after bravely confronting Muhammed over a series of debts owed to Abiola’s company by Muhammed’s Communications Ministry. The normally fearsome and ruthless Muhammed was impressed by Abiola’s courage and the two struck up a friendship. With Babangida and Muhammed eventually becoming Heads of State, Abiola exploited his relationship with them to secure extensive patronage via contracts with the government and became spectacularly rich in the process. His business empire grew massively as did his bank account balance, number of wives, concubines and children.

With his perpetual wealth ensured, Abiola turned to politics and joined the ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The NPN had an elaborate zoning system for the distribution of government portfolios – including the presidency. Since the presidency had been zoned to President Shagari (from the north), Abiola assumed that when President Shagari’s term of office expired, the NPN would zone the presidency to the south, and he would be allowed to run for President. He was wrong. His presidential ambition was rebuffed by the powerful Minister of Transport Umaru Dikko who told him that “the presidency is not for sale to the highest bidder”. Abiola “retired” from politics soon after – totally exasperated with the NPN. He would have his revenge. President Shagari reported that several frustrated politicians engaged in what he termed “coup baiting” against his government. Abiola had a massive publishing empire was used to launch frequent vitriolic attacks on President Shagari’s government with the intention of discrediting it sufficiently to psychologically prepare the public for its replacement by a military regime. In his memoirs (“Beckoned to Serve”), President Shagari later obliquely referred to the financing and support given to military conspirators by an unnamed “well known business tycoon”. Although he declined to name this tycoon, contextually it was an obvious reference to Abiola. Babangida went further in unequivocally confirming Abiola’s role in financing a coup plot against Shagari and using his influence to destabilise Shagari’s government. He later revealed that Abiola:

“was also very good in trying to mould the thinking of the media. We relied on him a lot for that. So there was both the media support and the financial support.” (Karl Maier – Midnight in Nigeria)

President Shagari was overthrown in a military coup on December 31, 1983 and replaced by a military government in which Abiola’s friend Babangida was Chief of Army Staff (number 3 in the regime). Less than two years later Abiola was at it again and financed another military coup which eventually led to his friend Babangida becoming Head of State. Abiola’s wife Simbiat was opposed to his involvement in politics. However after she died in 1992 Abiola returned to politics and ran for President in an election stage managed by his bosom friend Babangida. As a southern Muslim (the religion of the north) and who was a close friend of the Head of State, an Abiola presidency seemed a virtual certainty. As results began trickling in, it became obvious that Abiola was headed for a landslide victory. He even defeated his opponent Bashir Tofa in Tofa’s home state of Kano. For the first time Nigerians voted across ethnic and religious lines as Christians voted for a Muslim, and northerners voted for a southerner. However something went very wrong. On June 23, 1993 the election was annulled and Abiola was denied the presidency. Five years later Abiola was dead, having been incarcerated for treason for declaring himself the rightful president.

So what would have happened had the election not been annulled and had Abiola ruled? A powerful hard line faction in the military bitterly opposed his candidacy. Babangida later said that had Abiola become President, he would have been overthrown in a violent military coup within six months. The then Director-General of military intelligence Brigadier Halilu Akilu was quoted as saying that “Abiola will be President over my dead body”. Other officers in the regime such as General Sani Abacha and Brigadier David Mark (current Senate President) promised to overthrow or even kill Abiola if he became President. With such opposition to him in the army, an Abiola presidency would almost certainly have led to new round of bloody coups and counter-coups that would have given the military a pretext to retain power. Nigeria might even have still been under military rule today.

But what if the military had supported Abiola? Would an Abiola presidency have been good for Nigeria? Abiola did not win the June 12, 1993 election because he was a massively popular candidate. He won and was adopted as an unlikely symbol of democracy by a public that was desperate to rid Nigeria of increasingly corrupt and authoritarian military rule. To the public, any candidate was better than the military. Olusegun Obasanjo warned that “Abiola is “not the Messiah that Nigerians are looking for”. How (in)accurate was Obasanjo’s assessment of Abiola?

Having come from a poor background Abiola was extremely generous to the poor and made grandiose charitable donations. These took the form of bulk buys of rice and tinned milk, to constructing new wings in new universities. He also awarded several hundred scholarships from his own personal fortune. Abiola made such gestures country-wide and did not limit them to his own ethnic or geographic group. He had contacts and friends across all ethnicities and regions of the country. It was also hoped that Abiola’s stupendous wealth meant that he was rich enough not to be tempted to loot the state treasury. A rich multi-billionaire southern businessman from the south, who adopted the religion of the north and had extensive local and international contacts, the perception was that if Abiola could not govern, no one could.

However Abiola had many weaknesses which might have proved his undoing had he become President. His first and foremost weakness was for female flesh. His appetite for women was such that a decade after his death, not even his own family is aware of how many wives and children he had. Educated estimates put the number of his wives somewhere between 25 and 40, and children anywhere between 85 and 120. He also had a number of concubines. Such a complicated personal life could have proved embarrassing and destabilising for a President in the public eye and would probably have occupied several column inches for gleeful tabloids.

Although from humble origins, in adulthood Abiola was no firebrand political reformer and he was unlikely to rock the boat or risk physical challenge. In many ways he was part of Nigeria’s corrupt elite and a government led by him would have continued with business and corrupt dealings as usual. His emergence as a presidential candidate was predicated on his membership of that corrupt elite. In the end the same military Leviathan which Abiola sponsored and supported ended up devouring him.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO ABACHA AND ABIOLA?


How quickly we forget. Flashback 10 years. The political situation was as follows:

  • Nigeria was being ruled by a ruthless and reclusive military dictator called General Sani Abacha
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo and over 50 other army officers were in jail on trumped up charges of coup plotting.
  • Nigeria had become a pariah nation after being expelled from the Commonwealth for executing Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists who were campaigning for a fairer share of Nigerian oil revenues and against the environmental damage caused to their lands by the drilling and spills of big oil companies.
  • Lt-General Oladipo Diya, Major-Generals Abdulkareem Adisa and Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and several other officers were on death row awaiting execution for their role in another coup plot.
  • The winner of the acclaimed June 12 1993 election Chief MKO Abiola had been in jail for 4 years, kept incommunicado from the outside world.
  • General Abacha was on the verge of transforming himself from a military ruler to civilian President having strong armed all the 5 political parties (“five fingers of the same leprous hand”) into adopting him as their presidential candidate.
  • Genuine democracy seemed far, far away.

abacha3.jpg

Plus a lot of the “pro democracy” activists shamelessly abandoned Abiola to join Abacha (Olu Onagoruwa, Baba Gana Kingibe). Even ministers in Abacha’s regime were not safe. The Guardian Newspapers (owned by Abacha’s minister Ibru) was proscribed by a newspaper proscription Decree and shut down after it criticised the government. It was the paper’s continual criticism of Abacha’s regime that led to the near fatal assassination attempt on Ibru.

The Abacha -v- Abiola power struggle was holding the entire country hostage. Abacha’s thirst for power and Abiola’s unrealised mandate. Even if Abacha is removed, what to do about Abiola who won a credible election? Then the following cataclysmic events happened in the space of 30 days:

On June 8 1998 Abacha dies of a heart attack and is hurriedly buried without an autopsy by the time the news filters through to most Nigerians. Nigerians publicly celebrate the death of a reviled leader with wild jubilation. General Abdulsalam Abubakar quickly replaces Abacha and announces that Abiola will be released but that he had to realise that his mandate had expired. A lot of chicanery was used to get Abiola to renounce but he refused. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sent to talk to him and explain that his “term of office” had expired since 5 years had passed since the June 12 1993 election. All to no avail. Exactly one month after the death of Abacha, Abiola suddenly dies of a heart attack on July 7 1998.

With Abacha, Abiola and the June 12 issue out of the way, General Abubakar announces a swift 10 month programme for a return to civilian democratic rule. Just 10 months after Nigeria seemed doomed to perpetual military rule under General Abacha, the military steps down and a new democratic government is elected under President Obasanjo. The speed with which Abacha’s infrastructure was dismantled just seemed too contrived. With Abacha alive and Abiola incarcerated, most people thought democracy was years away in Nigeria. Just 10 months after his death everything he did was undone: his killer squad was dismantled, coup convicts and pro democracy activists released, Nigeria back in the Commonwealth, democracy restored, and the army back in the barracks. Note that a lot of Abacha’s cronies survived in office and resurfaced in subsequent dispensations (Sarki Mukhtar – NSA, Jerry Gana etc).

Somehow exactly 30 days apart, both men die of heart attacks. Abacha is prevented from becoming a civilian ruler, from executing the condemned men like Diya, Adisa and Olanrewaju, and a recalcitrant Abiola (who refuses to renounce his mandate) also dies. Problem gone, debate over, fresh start. All rather convenient isn’t it?…. How easily we forget….

Videos on the June 12 Annulment


Without wishing to turn the site into a video fest, I think these videos on the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election are another didactic series.  Each of the three videos runs for about 10 minutes.  I’ve been having problems with some of the videos so if the video screens don’t work, click the URL link below each screen and that will take you directly to a youtube link of the video.

Part 1

http://www.viewnaija.com/video/344/IBB-on-June-12-annulment-Part-1

Part 2

http://www.viewnaija.com/video/345/IBB–June-12-annulment–Part-2

Part 3

http://www.viewnaija.com/video/1455/Behind-the-June-12th-Election–1

More Videos on Nigeria’s History


Since videos have proved popular on this site, I thought I would post a few more regarding key controversial events in Nigeria’s history.  The videos can be viewed directly on this site.  Just click the play icon, sit back and enjoy these excellent insights into our recent past. 

This first video is an excellent documentary regarding attempts by various Nigerian regimes to perpetuate themselves in power under the guise of “transition” programmes and constitutional amendments.

This documentary regards the controversial 1985 trial and execution of Major-General M.J. Vatsa for allegedly trying to overthrow his boyhood friend and best man, Ibrahim Babangida.

Another video with excerpts from the 1995 Special Military Tribunal “coup” trial of several prominent Nigerians including General Obasanjo, Maj-Gen Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Christine Anyanwu for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime of General Sani Abacha.