Lecture delivered by Prof Ibrahim Ayagi, (former Chairman of the National Economic Intelligence Committee NEIC) at the Inaugural Wole Soyinka Lecture held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos on Saturday 20th March 1994.
I must first express my thanks and appreciation to the organizers of this lecture to commemorate the 60th birthday anniversary of, and to honour the distinguished Nigerian author, playwright, poet, artist, professor, civil rights crusader and (if you would allow me the use of this rather tautological term) the only unique Nigerian – Professor Wole Soyinka. My English teachers taught me that “unique” means “only one of his (or its) type” and so does not carry any descriptive or adjectival prefixes. However, to me the word “unique” looks so simple and rather ‘naked’, and so does not give adequate expression to the import of Professor Wole Soyinka’s uniqueness. So, to me Professor Soyinka is a very unique Nigerian. He is the only Nigerian who distinguished himself enough internationally to win the most coveted prize – the Noble Prize. Indeed, he is even more unique than that! Professor Soyinka is the only African to win the Nobel Prize in non-political areas of distinction. I read many of Professor Soyinka’s works but I never had the privilege of meeting him personally before today. The organizers of this activity can, therefore, see how grateful I must be to them. They have made it very easy and most convenient for me to meet the only unique Nigerian today. I thank you most sincerely and I wish the Professor many happy returns of the day.
Now, coming to the topic of today’s lecture, I must also express my feeling of respect for the organizers of the anniversary activities. They gave me a blank cheque; they asked me to select the topic for my lecture for this evening. This gesture was very considerate, and I am grateful to them for the consideration. But what should this lecture topic of mine be? How do you select a lecture topic for delivery at the milestone’s anniversary of the only unique Nigerian? In terms of humanity, I, of course, believe that the Professor and I are on the same footing; in terms of principles, I believe we share the same platform; and I also believe that in terms of societal aspirations I belong in the same camp with the Professor. None of these, however, gives one the credibility and confidence to stand before him and this distinguished audience to give a befitting lecture.
To have that credibility and confidence one’s achievements in life should have a basis or some elements of comparison with his. One is, of course, seriously deficient on that score. However, one’s consolation is that since the Professor is so distinguishably unique there is no Nigerian whose achievements could compare with his. In the absence of that, for one to have the credibility and confidence, one should be at least an older and more experienced professor than the professor himself. But even in that area one is seriously deficient: Professor Soyinka left the services of the university long after he had become a professor while your lecturer for this evening’s occasion left the services of his university only as a lecturer. And, in terms of age, your lecturer for today’s occasion who will be 54 years old next August (1994) is not even old enough to be a school mate of the Professor! So, what to do? I had to find something to give me the credibility and confidence to give the lecture. So I had to continue searching! All these thoughts came soon after the verbal contact made with me by the organizers and before receiving a formal letter to which I had to respond and give a topic for the lecture.
At long last a splash just came to my mind and I thought I related perfectly with Professor Soyinka on that count. He is a man of great conviction, an honest man and a frank Nigerian who can say his mind and his conviction on any issues that relate to him and his environment. He told the Buhari/Idiagbon regime what he thought about that regime; and his views about the present military regime are as well known to many Nigerians as they are unpalatable to the government. In my own humble way, I am also free from power intimidation. I say what I believe when I am asked and cannot be intimidated into doing or saying anything against my conviction. This puts me on the same footing with Professor Soyinka and gives me at least the confidence to stand here and before you today!
Some may say it is foolhardy for somebody like me to say his mind just like Professor Soyinka, because while Professor Soyinka’s international standing could shield him from vindictive harassment of the powers-that-be a lesser mortal could be pounced on and harassed for lesser utterances. This may be true. However, the most effective shield of protection is that provided by Allah and He provides such protection amply to truthful and honest beings.
Now, again, to the topic of this evening’s lecture: ANNULLED ELECTIONS AND THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY. I chose to formulate this topic and to prepare the lecture materials accordingly because the two elements of the topic, viz:
- Annulled Elections; and
- The Nigerian Economy
are of great concern to the majority of Nigerians now.
What are annulled elections? The dictionary meaning of the word “to annul” is “to put an end to, e.g., an agreement, a law, e.t.c.; declare invalid, of no effect”. So to annul an election means to declare that election as invalid, as of no effect. Elections to political offices could be seen as part of both the democratic process and the undemocratic process. The institution of traditional rulers is undemocratic (if we define democracy to mean the principles of government in which all adult citizens participate through their elected representatives). The election of a traditional ruler in Nigeria is normally limited to a handful of people who must select from one of the traditional ruling houses. In most of the states in the northern part of this country the process of appointing traditional rulers is that, on the demise of an incumbent ruler, the kingmakers meet to select and nominate three candidates to the Governor of the State who selects one of the three for appointment.
Normally, the kingmakers and the Governor select the candidate that conforms to the general but passive acceptance of the people of the area, which gives the selection a semblance of democracy. Could the appointment of a Nigerian traditional ruler, made strictly in accordance with the appropriate procedure be easily and properly annulled? The answer, to my simple and untrained-in-law-mind, is ‘no’ unless, of course, some of the disguised machinations of (what I would henceforth refer to as the former disgraced-out-of-power Nigerian dictator or simply the dictator) were at work in the appointment. He was such a powerful dictator that he appointed traditional rulers regardless of what the people thought and did. Stories abound of kingmakers nominating three candidates to the Governor of a State out of which the Governor was supposed to tick one of them and return the list with his approval of one candidate. Instead, however, the Governor would (if the former dictator had so indicated) just add the name of the fourth (the dictator’s) candidate in his red pen, tick it and return it with his approval!
Another way to install the dictator’s candidate was for the Governor of the State to promulgate an edict to change the composition of the kingmakers and flush their number with people who would vote for the dictator’s candidate!
Could these elections or selections be annulled in a court of law? No, they could not be annulled during the dictator’s time, but after his demise, this is being done and we are seeing the result.
You see, ladies and gentleman, this is how bad Nigeria has become; this is how immoral we have become; this is how corrupt and decadent we have become as a nation! The simple question that I just asked: could these elections or selections be annulled in any Nigerian court of law? The response of “not during the dictator’s time” is a pointer to how dilapidated we have become as a nation.
As Chief Executive of one of the country’s merchant banks (before I was flushed out) I was disgusted by some of the irregular practices being perpetrated in the bank. For example, a report came to me one morning that some of the bank’s vehicles had been arrested for not having the necessary documents. I thought that was ridiculous! All the bank’s vehicles had all the necessary documents! We did not economize on vehicles documentations! To my utter amusement the traffic warders were right – the vehicles licences issued in the offices of the proper authority were fake! The issuing officers had printed their own and were issuing them instead of the authority’s official vehicle licences. They simply pocketed the proceeds.
Another disgusting and shameful practice was to find staff of the bank conniving with private clinics to inflate their hospital bills to the bank for mutual sharing! And I thought ‘how could a medical doctor condescend so low?’But these practices look like a child’s play now if one reviews the overall happenings in the last eight years. Virtually everything has been destroyed! Look at what happened at the courts. The former Nigerian dictator is an extremely cunning man. He always knew what he wanted and knew too how to get it. He made himself the ‘darling’ of many people in these southern parts of Nigeria hence, their demonstrations in his support against the alleged General Vatsa planned coup de tat! This dictator easily infiltrated the judiciary. Tribunals were appointed to probe this or that crisis and/or adjudicate on this or that election. The tribunals comprised both legal and non-legal practitioners and/or former high court judges, and one had friends so appointed who disclosed the type of things that they were experiencing.
Members’ elbows were being greased with occasional cash gifts during Christmas or Sallah breaks. Agents of the dictator were deliberately planted in many of the tribunals and deals were struck with them on what to do and what to expect in return.
It was, therefore, not surprising (even though it was extremely odd) that all the Governorship elections in the 30 states of Nigeria were upheld! None was invalidated! Why? Was it because they were all found to have been conducted properly and in accordance with the stipulated regulations? No, what happened was known to most people who cared to know. The dictator had fixed it for all the governors against who petitions were made. It was virtually an open secret. The worst malpractices had taken place during the governorship elections, and yet they were all confirmed.
They were all confirmed because the dictator wanted them confirmed for essentially two reasons, namely:
- his position was not in competition with the Governors; and
- he saw that by legitimizing them in office he could use them for his own purposes.
And, of course, he used them for his own purposes. We cannot so soon forget the move initiated by some of the Governors to extend his tenure for another five years. Many of the so-called leaders of thought meetings of apparently respectable and respected people were called with civilian governors and they endorsed the former dictator’s continuation in office! It is amazing! We Nigerians are one of the most hopeless people on earth!
The Hausas have a saying which can be translated to mean ‘you do not have a bad ruler but bad courtiers’. Nigerians could probably make an initially saintly ruler devilish and make a devilish ruler Satan himself! By our acts of commission or omission we resuscitated the man whose pants were shaken off his hips by the 22nd April, 1989 attempted coup and allowed his dictatorial tendencies to lead him to become so powerful as to denigrate anything of value to us. By his open generosity with what did not belong to him he won people to his corrupt ways and he graduated into the military politics of intimidation and blackmail. Having succeeded in getting his way in the governorship elections, he had now become strong enough to dispense with the subtle but corruptive ways of imposing his will on Nigerians through cash favours and other forms of patronage. He thought he could now actually take the law in to his hands. He brazenly acted to break the law.
The Presidential Primary Elections in 1992 were to choose the two Presidential candidates of the two political parties. The primary elections were for the two candidates, one of whom would snatch the dictator’s cherished position of the President of Nigeria. As far as all Nigerians could see with their own eyes on the television screens and physically at the polling stations, hundreds and thousands of voters lined up one behind the other – in all the polling stations all over the country and voted for their candidates. The primary elections were concluded and the results were made known. People in Lagos, in Ondo, Oyo and other states of the south-west of Nigeria queued up and massively voted for Shehu Musa Yar’Adua while in Cross-River and many states north of the Niger they voted massively for Adamu Ciroma. This outcome made the former dictator feel threatened and he started his machinations again! In no time, he got the defeated candidates to play into his hands. Cries of foul rang the air and the elections were alleged to have been massively rigged! They called on the dictator to cancel the primary elections! He did!
Ladies and gentlemen, please look at us again Nigerians! This is why I said we are hopeless! Here you are Nigerian politicians. Most of us have seen the evils of military dictatorship and we wanted to get rid of them. Whether they like it genuinely or they were just pretending, our job as Nigerians was to join ranks, forget whatever differences we have amongst ourselves and rush them back to their barracks! We need very badly to rule ourselves. Let the politician be even worse than the military, Nigeria and Nigerians would ultimately be better off: the worst rigger of elections – turn dictator should be better than the best gun dictator! The former cannot last for long in Nigeria. The latter could last forever.
However, instead of hearkening to the silent entreaties of Nigerians the political class betrayed us and condescended to begging the former dictator to annul the elections! They knew, of course, that there was a procedure for all aggrieved aspirants to political office to submit their grievances during the conduct of the election. There was no provision in the electoral law for the dictator to annul the elections. The law courts were to adjudicate in any disputes concerning the elections. The military dictator had nothing to do with them. But the political class conjured up the responsibility and heaped it on the dictator that he could to it. And, of course, they were telling him exactly what he planned for them to tell him. It was very easy for him; he announced the cancellation of the Presidential primaries. On what grounds? Not on the grounds of rigging; not on the grounds of any identified malpractices; not on any particular states or particular voting centres! No! But just on a generalized allegation that the voters were bought, and it was said that the highest elective office of the nation was not for sale to the highest bidder! Maybe the governorship was! Maybe the Senatorial and previous elections were for sale. The Presidency was not! So they said!
How ridiculous! How absurd! How incredible! One had never heard anything like that anywhere in the world! Millions of ordinary Nigerians left their homes for the polling stations and stayed in queues for 3 to 4 hours to cast their votes; and one man cancelled the entire elections because of allegations that many voters were paid to vote. The allegation constituted the necessary evidence for conviction. This is worse than jungle law – it is guilt by allegation, that is, the allegation itself proved guilt. Even as a charade, this was extremely far-fetched! And yet, the political class or at least those who cried foul were elated.
This episode reinforced the dictator’s belief that he was the best man to rule Nigeria for as long as he lived, and even to bequeath it to the tutelage of his wife for his children to rule over after his death. So, he not only annulled the primary elections but also banned the Presidential aspirants (who contested the primaries) from contesting again. This means that a whole lot of credible aspirants to the presidency were excluded from participating in the elections. The initial criers of foul on the presidential primaries did not probably reckon with that type of outcome. But, you see, the military wind of dictatorship is the type that blows nobody any good.
Fresh Presidential primary elections were ordered. And the primary elections took place very smoothly. However, for those with the discerning eyes, the hands of the ousted dictator could be seen in the success of both the successful candidates. I personally could discern the hands of the dictator in the success of the candidate that I know more closely. That candidate and me come from the same place and we used to be very close friends until the characteristics of the former dictator escaped from their disguise and exhibited themselves on him. One counted not less than half a dozen presidential aspirants from the states who were known close friends and associates of the dictator who simply went to Port Harcourt to support the Hausa-Fulani candidate from Kano. Furthermore, the total amount of money spent by the two Presidential candidates was probably as much as what was needed to buy the Presidency even though the dictator’s man had said it was not for sale. And my friend was not, until then, a rich man. He had his riches recently poured on him by the dictator’s benevolence from the resources that should have accrued to all of us. He did not have any discernible attributes to qualify him to be the President of this country.
The other candidate, a Muslim from the south-west of Nigeria was also a darling friend and close family associate of the former dictator. Every Nigerian knows that. He was an extremely wealthy man. He said himself that he had to get the former dictator’s blessings before he offered himself as a Presidential candidate. Similarly, the Hausa-Fulani candidate from Kano had to cajole the former dictator to allow him to contest the Presidential elections. Only then did he get the dictator’s blessing to contest. My belief is that decency could not last or remain long with the former dictator and anybody who remained long with the former dictator must be of his own ilk. Furthermore, nothing blessed by the former dictator could be of any good to the generality of Nigerians.
However, the two Presidential candidates of the two parties were the only two candidates that we had to choose from and we had a duty to choose one of them to get rid of military dictatorship. Anyone of them was better than the military. But, of course, both of them were the former dictator’s close friends and associates! So, what to do? We, in Kano State and, I believe many other Nigerians in the other states, decided to reject our own kith and kin candidate from Kano State in favour of the candidate from Ogun State, not because he was a Yoruba, not even because he was a Muslim, but because he was the less likely candidate to keep us bonded to the former dictator and his ways!
Long before the June 12 (1993) Presidential elections, I predicted that the Ogun State candidate would win the elections outright while the Kano State candidate would not even win Kano State. Some of my friends were surprised to hear me say that and one of them said, in Hausa, of course, “but you do not cut off your hand and throw it away just because it has become rotten with disease”. And I retorted that I would rather cut off and throw away the diseased hand than allow it to kill the rest of me.
So, Nigerians elected the Ogun State candidate and the results had been coming in to confirm what we believed had taken place. Then suddenly what we guessed had happened started to happen! And, finally, the same dictator that annulled the earlier Presidential primaries announced the annulment of even that election – the best and fairest of all the elections that had taken place in Nigeria. All the electoral officers said so; the international observers invited specially for the purpose said so; and all Nigerians said so! But he annulled the election!
That was the most outrageous thing that could happen! I thought it was impossible. The reaction of most Nigerians was the same. The dictator was trying to justify his action by putting out concocted and incriminating information against the elected candidate. To me and many Nigerians, the elected man must be sworn-in even if the disseminated information made him the devil himself. I know the dictator and his men were determined not to let go, not because the elected man was from Ogun State – he would have done the same if the Kano State candidate had won – but because he wanted to keep the job himself. I am aware of a self-appointed delegation of highly respected elder statesmen from the northern states that visited the former dictator to advise that the winner of the June 12 elections be allowed his mandate! But the dictator did not like what he heard from them and he disgraced them openly.
The annulment of the June 12 elections was the height of moral bankruptcy. Anybody who supported the annulment must be morally bankrupt! However, the former dictator has done his worst! What are we to do now? Let me take that after dealing with the second leg of my two legged article: The Nigerian Economy.
The Nigerian Economy
The annulled June 12 election was the culmination of an 8-year transition programme – the worst period in Nigeria’s history which inflicted so many pains on, afflicted Nigeria and Nigerians with so many evils and wrought havoc to the socio-economic-political structure of the country. It threatened the survival of the nation. I summarise the evils wrought on Nigeria during the period 1985 to 1993 as follows (and they are not necessarily exhaustive):
- The Islamic Conference Organization (OIC) controversy which had never been an issue before because Nigeria was just an observer nation. Most Nigerian Muslims had never heard about the organisation and did not care much whether Nigeria was a member or not. However, as the dictator was extremely unpopular in many parts of the north (and of course, the dictator had always been the darling of a great number of people in the south) he wanted to do something to please the Muslims. So he surreptitiously sent one of his ministers to the OIC meeting and instructed him to apply for full membership. The leak of the news of Nigeria’s application and its surreptitious nature angered many Christians who, either because of genuine ignorance or for mischief alleged that the membership of the OIC was aimed at Islamizing Nigeria. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth: Nigeria could not be Islamized by OIC membership any more than appointing an ambassador to the Vatican could Christianize Nigeria.
In the end, the dictator succumbed to the pressure and Nigeria could not attend the OIC meeting even as an observer. It was this outright denial to the Muslims of what could not have been harmful to the Christians or anybody else that made the Muslims feel that they are second-rate citizens in their own country. Since that time the relationship between Christians and Muslims had been so contaminated and edgy; and violent religious confrontations had erupted intermittently.
- The IMF Loan National Debate and how Nigerians were deceived: 1985.
- The introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and the Foreign Exchange Market: 1986.
- The creation and licensing of 95 mushroom banks to compete with 25 old banks licensed to operate in Nigeria since 1914: 1986 to 1993.
- Putting aside the relevant decree on SAP and corrupting the Foreign Exchange Market in order to enable the banks corner the Foreign Exchange Market and transfer the wealth and income of Nigeria to the owners and promoters of the banks.
- The replacement of foreign debt repayment with re-scheduling which just postponed the debt repayment date but accumulated more interest charges and capitalized all unpaid interest.
- The mismanagement of the Nigerian economy and the conversion of the national treasury into the personal treasury of the former dictator who freely donated to all and sundry in order to corrupt Nigerians to his own ways.
- The elaborate annual budgets which were announced only to be ignored by the budget authors themselves.
- The huge annual budget deficit in which the Federal Government spent twice what it budgeted for, or spent the entire year’s budget in six (6) months.
- The creation of two (2) additional states to increase the number of states to 21 which the dictator promised to be the last states to be created by his administration: 1989.
- The sudden creation of an additional nine (9) states to make them 30 by the same dictator and without any pressure from any Nigerians: 1991;
- The creation of new Local Governments to raise the number from about 370 to 589 without any agitation from anybody and without any proper demarcation of areas and their demography: 1991.
- The elaborate transition to civil rule programme which right from the beginning the dictator was definitely sure in his mind that he had no intention whatsoever of implementing it but led Nigerians to believe that the programme was to end the rule of the gun.
- The nullification of the June 12, 1993 elections contested and fought between the dictator’s closest friends (and with his own backing) but which elections he nullified because a winner was emerging which was contrary to his plans.
- The strong reaction against the nullification of the June 12 election and the further alienation of whole sections of the Nigerian population who now saw themselves as being marginalized and tended towards demanding to opt out of the existing Federal arrangement.
- Disgracing the dictator out of power after the installation of his hand-picked puppet transition government which he thought could be an avenue for perpetuating himself in office.
- The overthrow of the puppet transition government by the closest and most trusted military ally of the former dictator who worked closely with him and his colleagues to bring Nigeria to its current poverty stricken existence, misery and turmoil.
- The nullification, by a stroke of the pen (of the new regime) of the entire eight 8-year programme of the former dictator’s destructive administration. This was accomplished in two ways, viz.
a) The announcement made in the maiden speech of the present military ruler that abolished all the apparently seeming democratic institutions established during the last 8 years; and
b) The announcement of the current (1994) budget whose main import is, first the cancellation of the perverted Foreign Exchange Market in favour of a return to a system similar to the import licensing system to be operated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and secondly, the abandonment of the Structural
Adjustment Programme (SAP).
- The appointment of a commission to prepare a programme and work out modalities for a constitutional conference to look into the multitude of problems which afflict Nigeria as a nation and make recommendations on an acceptable political framework for the continued existence of Nigeria.
- The insistence of the unannounced winner of the June 12 election that he must be sworn in as President of Nigeria and the support given to him by leaders of thought in the south-west of Nigeria; and their undertaking not to cooperate with the new military regime until their son was installed as the President of Nigeria.
The Solution to the Problems
These are the staggering problems caused Nigeria by the former dictator and his colleagues. The Nigerian economy has been virtually destroyed and most Nigerians have been impoverished. Billions of Naira had been squandered on the transition programme itself; the building of the two political parties’ headquarters in all the States and Local Government headquarters consumed not less than N2 billion; grants by Federal Government to the political parties consumed not less than N1 billion; the various elections consumed not less than N2 billion; the creation of nine (9) new states and over 200 new Local Government consumed not less than N5 billion; the setting up of a large number of spurious administrative structures and their maintenance consumed not less than N1 billion! These are the structures that not only consumed billions of Naira to set them up but would also cost billions to maintain.
The solution to these problems to my mind should not be too hard to come by. It would take a very long time to succeed. Whatever incomes Nigeria realizes and from whatever source would have to be used for the following purposes;
- Service Nigeria’s large foreign debt (of over US$30 billion); and
- As recurrent annual expenditures and the cost of administrative overheads at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.
This means that Nigeria’s current incomes may be equal to or less than its current expenditures that is, zero (0) or negative saving. It reduces Nigeria to a subsistence form of living which may become the poverty trap for the country. No country could grow economically until it is able to save and invest more than 10 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP) and Nigeria’s current saving an investment rate is negative!
The solution to the economic problems to my mind, are two-fold, namely;
- Restoration of the Value of the Naira: The solution to this is easy and I had stated it several times before. In fact, I sent a memorandum on it to the Economic and Intelligence Monitoring Committee. In a nutshell the prescription is simply to discard the present perverted system of Foreign Exchange allocation and replace it with the full provisions of the 1986 Decree on the Foreign Exchange Market. That Decree is still in force, but was just put aside in favour of illegalities. Restoration and implementation of the full provisions of the 1986 Decree should be easy but, of course, would be against the interest groups that pressurized Government, in the first place to relegate the law and practice illegalities.
- Elimination of Many of the Administrative Structures: The economy cannot grow while the large number of administrative structures set up in the last 8 years remains as parasites to the country’s income flows. The 3-tier system of government being operated now is too expensive for a poor country like ours. We must trim down the system to cut down on overhead administrative expenditures. The states should be eliminated and the number of Local Governments should be reduced to the number (370) provided in the 1979 Constitution. I have provided the details on this proposal in my book “The Trapped Economy”.
Here again, the solution is simple but its adoption and implementation may go against the interest of the elite pressure groups who are actually the beneficiaries of the creation of administrative structures.
Now, we return to the Annulled Election. The country seems to have been divided into two groups on the actual annulment of the June 12 election, namely;
- The former dictator and his clique of morally bankrupt sycophants who perpetrated the annulment; and
- The rest of Nigerians who condemned the annulment.
On the cancellation of the annulment now, Nigerians also seem to be divided into two groups, viz;
- The leaders of thought, and probably many everyday people too in the south-west of Nigeria who feel very strongly that the undeclared winner from Ogun State must be sworn-in first as President before they could cooperate with the government; and
- The rest of all Nigerians who seem mute and/or unsure as to what could possibly be done about June 12.
I personally belong to the second group in both cases, but I am only mute and not unsure about what should be done now about June 12.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, a terrible error of judgment was committed by the undeclared winner of the June 12 election and his immediate supporters. When I was awoken from sleep in the early morning of November 17 and told that Sani Abacha had taken over the government I felt very sad and when he announced the details of the actions the new military regime had taken I felt even sadder. I did not like to see the military return with their guns to rule over our lives. I felt very sad that Shonekan was replaced by Abacha as head of a new military regime – not because I liked Shonekan as the Head of the Interim Government (you could see, of course, that anybody so hand-picked by the former dictator must be the dictator’s own man, and I would have no reason to expect anything good from the lot) but because he was unelected, interim and non-military. He could at any time easily be removed for the undeclared winner would have been the President-in-waiting while the pressure for his being sworn-in continued! The extreme unfairness of having a hand-picked civilian, ruling over the country while the man given the mandate by the people was left hanging would have remained. Shonekan as a civilian intruder was more easily removable from the government than the military!
I expected to hear that other Nigerians also felt sad about the return of the military to government, but to my utter disappointment I found the contrary. In fact, I even learnt that the undeclared winner and his close supporters were the ones that actually convinced Sani Abacha to take over the government. That was a grievous mistake: a politician should never want the military to take over the government however aggrieved he might be!
The section being appeased argued that the so-called Hausa-Fulani had dominated political power for so long and so having had the opportunity to change the situation with their own son to dominate political power, they must have their way! Would other Nigerians feel safe?
I have personally never been an advocate for sectional interests. I am more interested in the national well-being of Nigeria than in promoting sectional interests. It does not matter to me that Sani Abacha is from Kano State and has been a friend and a schoolmate. He is in power through the power of the gun and I am ill-disposed towards the military in government. Yet the type of adjectives I would use to describe him, if he were to do as the undeclared winner of the June 12 election wanted him to do, could not be mentioned here. Such an action would be tantamount to pouring of fuel on Nigeria and setting it ablaze!
The solution to the problem is for the military government to design a 6-months’ programme in which the following steps are to be taken:
- Complete the formal announcement of the suspended June 12 election results so that Nigerians would know officially what votes each of the two candidates scored;
- Allow the normal procedure of petitions and complaints by aggrieved candidates to take their normal course within a specified period of time
- Conduct fresh elections to elect State Governors, members of National Assembly and the State Assemblies – all based on the two political parties.
- Swear-in the winner of the June 12 election and the winners of the fresh elections conducted for State Governors, the National and State Assemblies on 1st January 1995; and
- Let the Military return to their barracks on the same day – 1st January 1995.