I Knew From The Start That Abacha Wouldn’t Hand Over Power — Babangida

Former military head of state, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), says he knew Sani Abacha, former military ruler, would not surrender power after he took over via a coup.

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

Consequent of the annulment, a national protest followed, this compelled Babangida to step aside and relinquish power to Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993, as the head of an interim national government.

Several weeks after this, Abacha stagged a coup, returning Nigeria to military rule.

In 2021, Babangida, had said he cancelled the election because a bloody coup would have emanated if he did not.

When he was asked during an interview with Daily Trust TV, if his reason for annulling the election was because he was still in government, IBB 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 weary of election, just pack and go”.

“We managed to set it up, we gave it six months so that by February of 199…I can’t remember now, we could have held another election, so that we can hand 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 election, about 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! 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.”