Nigerians Didn't Trust IBB's Regime; Why he Annulled June 12 Poll - Atiku
LAGOS, August 24, (THEWILL) - Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar today said Nigerians did not trust the administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, feelings which he said, manifested in the annulment of June 12 presidential election presumably won by Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Abiola.
He also explained that the inordinate ambition of Babangida to remain in office indefinitely was the main rationale his administration annulled the June 12 election, a decision he said, derailed the country’s development.
The former vice president disclosed this at the presentation of a book; ‘Dairy of a Debacle: Tracking Nigeria’s Democratic Transition’, written by veteran journalist, Dr. Olatunji Dare, held in MUSON Centre, Lagos.
He added that former Chief of Defence Staff, Alhaji Shehu Yar’Adua predicted that the elections would be annulled by the Babangida administration given the manner the administration dictatorially annulled the primaries of the earlier presidential candidates.
Atiku acknowledged that the northern political leaders supported the presidential aspiration of Abiola under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) because the South-West was then technically stronger than the north in 1993, giving the resilient courage of its pro-democracy leaders to lead protests against the Babangida administration.
Speaking on why Babangida annulled the elections, Atiku said many Nigerians did not trust the Babangida administration to accept the outcome of the elections; neither did the chieftains of Social Democratic Party led by Shehu Yar’Adua, who organized several meetings to strategize before the elections.
The ex-vice president said before the SDP primaries, Northern and Southern delegates "met in Kaduna to vote for Abiola. Our calculation was that after the elections, Abiola would be the presidential candidate and me as his running mate. There was confusion in Jos because what we sat down in Kaduna to discuss was not agreed to in Jos. I called Shehu Yar’Adua to come and settle the impasse.
"Yar’Adua came to Jos and said we should vote for Abiola. His position was that the West voted for him in the SDP primaries and there was need to pay back. He said if either Babagana Kingibe or me emerged, Babangida would most likely annul the elections and if he did, the north cannot protest. But if Abiola emerged, the South-West would lead a protest and that the West would chase the military out of power.
"That was how we elected Abiola in the second ballot and Abiola won gallantly at the general election. But Babangida annulled the elections. We protested and then drove out the military from power", Atiku explained.
He commended Abiola’s courage in the fight for his mandate, adding that Abiola "paid an ultimate price for Nigeria’s democracy. He also extolled the author for putting the events of that period into writing.
Also at the presentation, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu buttressed the position of Atiku as he revealed that it was "evident from the steps, actions and statements of General Ibrahim Babangida that he was not willing to quit office which led to the June 12 1993 crisis. It will refresh the memory of many and illuminate on the roles played by gladiators of that era that later robbed Nigerians the opportunity of having entrenched democracy as far back as 1993."
The former governor said the occasion, afforded the opportunity to remember the debt of gratitude the nation owes to Bashorun Abiola, saying democracy would still remain a mirage in the country, if not for his death.
He recounted how one of the grand beneficiaries that the God saved from the hangman’s noose and who later became president (General Olusegun Obasanjo) "did not even want to hear Abiola’s name not even talk of honouring him. Yet, they reaped bountifully from his toil and still wanted more than their entitlement but for public outrage and vigilance.
"But the book will surely make a loud scream about the satanic roles played regarding that epoch by those in power or still hanging around the corridors of power. Dare has also come out with the skeletons that some anti-June 12 have hidden for 17 years. Certainly, they are bound to be uncomfortable.
"Rather than the celebration of this highly principled first class intellectual, we prefer to give national awards to the enemies of democracy; those who truncated our lofty dreams, setting Nigeria back by several years through collaboration and active involvement in one of the worst electoral heist in our history.
"There are many of them now who preside over several of our democratic institutions including amending constitution for us as well as devising tailor made electoral act with the intention of achieving a predetermined objective while the grandmasters of the despicable cult of annulment is preparing to come back and reap from where he did not sow," the former governor said.
Speaking at the presentation, former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu dismissed insinuations by some South-West political leaders that the annulment of June 12 elections was the handiwork of the north, revealing that the election was annulled by a tiny few.
Ribadu described the author as one of Africa’s most talented narrators, saying that he was one worth celebrating, dismissing insinuations by the Yoruba’s that the annulment of the elections was the handiwork of the north, revealing that it was perpetrated by a very few military and political leaders.
"That is the biggest lie of the century. All Nigerians voted for Abiola including the northerners. It was the work of a few people who robbed 14 million voters of their franchise. I was in the police force back then and I knew what happened. We almost lost Nigeria in 1993 specifically.
"Abiola gave us hope. It was so real. Some of us wanted to go that direction. Nigeria is in dire need of such true leadership who would stand for what is right and preserve the struggle of our heroes past," Ribadu said.
Those at the book presentation include Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), former Lagos State Military Administrator, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Bisi Akande, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa, Chief Dr. Molade Okoya Thomas, Engr. Rauf Aregbesola and Dr. Kayode Fayemi amongst others.