I wanted Abiola to head Interim Govt, says Babangida
Former President Ibrahim Babangida has said after the annulment of the June 1993 election by his government, he wanted the late business mogul, Chief Moshood Abiola, to head the interim government.
This is contained in a book, Ibrahim Babangida: The Military, Politics and Power in Nigeria, written by Dan Agbese, editor-in-chief of the defunct Newswatch magazine. According to the book, Babangida said he contributed to the campaign fund of the late business mogul.
Babangida, in an interview, told Agbese that he had wanted to make Abiola the chairman of the Transitional Council because he believed he (Abiola) 'enjoyed tremendous political goodwill. His name was a household name. He had the international contact and Nigeria too had a very good chance of having someone like him heading that organisation.'
He, however, claimed that his colleagues on the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC), the country's highest decision making body, opposed the choice of Abiola to head the council. Instead, they agreed to accept him as a member of the council.
The former military president said he offered to bring the late Abiola in as a member and ensure that the members of the Transitional Council elect him as chairman.
According to the book, the AFRC had decided that the chairman of the council should come from the South West. However, Abiola kicked against this and insisted that he should be announced as the leader. He was quoted as telling Babangida that his family wanted it because they feared that the president might change his mind once he made him just a member.
'Left to me, I wanted to make him the chairman. Then he decided and blew it.'
On the contest that led to the emergence of Abiola, Babangida said, the disqualification of 23 presidential aspirants led to the emergence of two candidates of two candidates- Abiola and Bashir Tofa- on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC).