IBB: I knew Abacha wouldn’t hand over power

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Former military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, says he knew ex-military dictator, Sani Abacha would not relinquish power. The 80-year-old during a recent interview revealed that the government of late Abacha was very smart.

In the widely known June 12, 1993 election, Moshood Kashimawo Olalekan (MKO) Abiola was in the lead to become president but the election was annulled by Babangida.

Following the annulment, a national protest ensued, which forced Babangida to step aside and hand over power to Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993, as the head of an interim national government. Babangida speaking further explained that though he was outside the service, he knew what was going on. Abacha staged a coup against the interim civilian government headed by late President Ernest Shonekan back in 1993 returning Nigeria to military rule. 

Babangida, in 2021, had said he annulled the election because a bloody coup would have occurred if he did not. When asked in an interview with Daily Trust TV, if his reason for annulling the election was because he was still in government, Babangida said,“No, I wasn’t there let me get that right”.“When we came up with the idea of an interim government, Nigerians said they were tired of anything or the media phrase was “that contraption called interim government,” he said.

“What we did, the interim government, we gave it life, we gave it tenure, we had a date for another election but we were told, “forget it, no election; Nigerians are wary of the election, just pack and go”.

“We managed to set it up, we gave it six months so that by February of 1994…I can’t remember now, we could have held another election so that we can hand it over to a democratically elected government.

“Now one of the fears is that we couldn’t come openly and tell you, people, that this is what we fear or this is what we are going to do, somebody is going to do A, B, C, D, E, F. The life of that interim government was cut short by coup d’etat, change of government.

“And the Abacha’s government was very smart. They knew who were the most vociferous discussants about the election, about the coup, about June 12 and so on, they started talking to them and sold a dummy to them, they encourage them to get rid of the interim government; “when we get rid of the interim government we will bring you back to come and take over your democracy so that a civilian government would be installed”.

“They sold that dummy to the public and to some prominent persons within the society and when Abacha stepped in, there were drumming and sighs; “Good thing! The next thing is going to be a democratically elected government”.

“I knew, we knew, that it wouldn’t be because the argument was: “Why should I risk my life only to come and hand over power to you?”, that was what happened.”

Author: Okunlola Kayode. F

Okunlolacharles2020@gmail.com

Lagos, Nigeria

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