By Ola Adeola
Tony Anenih, former chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, has revealed how late politician MKO Abiola agonized over the decision of ex-military president Ibrahim Babangida to annul the 1993 presidential election many thought he won.
Anenih, also, formerly chairman, board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, catalogued the experience in his autobiography launched in Abuja recently.
‘My Life and Nigerian Politics’, Anenih, who was the national chairman of the SDP at that time, said Abiola told him repeatedly that Babangida was trying to embarrass him.
“On the issue of June 12, Chief MKO Abiola had called me on the phone to come for an urgent meeting in Ikeja. I flew to Ikeja and met Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, Dr Dele Cole, and Kola, MKO’s son,” he wrote.
“At the meeting, Chief MKO told us that his friend, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, planned to embarrass him. He kept repeating this without stating the type of embarrassment.
“Later, he insisted that we must leave his house for Kola Abiola’s house. He was terribly frightened and depressed. We all moved to Kola’s house in Maryland. Right from this time, Chief Abiola was trying to get President Babangida on the phone, but each time he tried Akilu received the call.
“We could hear Chief Abiola telling Akilu to tell his friend (IBB) that they were still friends, and that he should allow him to be president even for one day, and he would resign thereafter; that all the photographs they took together were still all over his house, and that he should not forget the past, and that God would bless him.
“MKO would repeat Akilu’s words: ‘You mean I should call back in 30 minutes? Okay, I will call back in 30 minutes’. This went on till 7pm when the national anthem was sung on the television and MKO hysterically was saying, ‘Do you see my friend? You see him? You see my friend? He wants to embarrass me. Pointing to the television and there was IBB with a piece of paper in his hand. It was the annulment speech of June 23, 1993, by which President Babangida annulled the election and repealed Decree NO 13 of 1993 and 52 of 1992 on which basis the election had been conducted.”
Anenih said that at a meeting, Babangida he made it clear that the military would not accept Abiola as its commander-in-chief.
“He (Babangida) told the meeting that the military would not accept MKO Abiola and Alhaji Tofa as their commander-in-chief of the armed forces and that we should go and prepare for a fresh presidential election with new candidates,” he said.
“He directed that the SDP and NRC should arrange fresh conventions to pick new candidates. He gave the two political parties six weeks to conduct fresh primaries, confirm the nomination of their candidates and hold fresh elections – an action President Babangida knew would not be possible.”