On January 5, 1993, General Ibrahim Babangida replaced the National Council of Ministers with a transition council headed by Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (84), who was then the chairman and chief executive of United African Company Plc. The other members of the council were General Sani Abacha, defence secretary; Dr. Garba J. A. Abdulkadir, secretary for agriculture, water resources and rural development; Alhaji Isa Mohammed, secretary of state for agriculture; Alhaji Inuwa Zakari, secretary for commerce and tourism; Alhaji Bello Dogondaji, secretary of state for commerce and tourism; Alhaji Umaru Baba, secretary of state for defence; Professor Ben Nwabueze, secretary of state for education and youth development; Alhaji Zarma Gogoran, secretary for establishments and management services; Major-General Gado Nasko (rtd); administrator of the Federal Capital Territory; and Oladele Olashore, secretary for finance.
Also, Matthew Mbu, who was secretary for foreign affairs; Alhaji Saidu Isa, the secretary of state for foreign affairs; Dr. C. Okogie, secretary for health and human servicesl; Dr. (Mrs) Laraba Daggash, secretary of state for health and human services; Alhaji Aminu Saleh, secretary for industry and technology; Uche Chukwumerije, secretary for information and culture; Alhaji Abdulrahman Okene, secretary for internal affairs; Clement Akpamgbo, secretary for justice and attorney general; Francis John Ellah, secretary for labour and productivity; Alhaji Mustapha Umaru, chairman of the National Planning Commission; Phillip Asiodu, secretary for petroleum and mineral resources; and Francis Orji, secretary for police affairs.
There were equally: Air Vice Marshall Nura Imam, who was secretary for power, mines and steel; Alhaji Hassan Hadija, the secretary for petroleum and mineral resources; Alhaji Oladunni Ayandipo, secretary of state for power, mines and steel; Alhaji Maccido Dalhatu, secretary for states and local government affairs; Mrs. Emily Imoukhuede, secretary of state for states and local government affairs; Chief Oluwole Adeosun, secretary for transport and communication; Yusufu Galadima, secretary of state for transport and communications; and Chief Barnabas Gemade, secretary for works and housing.
General Babangida then announced the administrators of the two parties, having dissolved the leadership of both Chief Tom Ikimi (NRC) and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe (SDP). For the SDP, he named Mr. Jatiku Mamsa, a director in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, who later became permanent ministry in the Ministry of Communication. Mr. Mamsa is from Lassa village in Bornu State, a village where the Lassa fever was first discovered to be rampart many years ago. For the NRC, he named Mrs. Lateefat Modupe Okunnu nee Oyekan as administrator. Mrs. Okunnu had served as permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, Lagos. She was later founder and president of federation, Moslem Women’s Associations in Nigeria. Mrs. Okunnu, along with Mrs. Pamela Sadauki were the first women deputy governors in Nigeria. And they served between 1990 and 1992. While Mrs. Okunnu served in Lagos, Mrs. Sadauki served in Kaduna state.
General Babangida again threw open the presidential race and many showed interest. Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (1937-1998), who lost his first wife, Alhaja Simbiat Atinuke Abiola (1938-1992), the Otun Iyalode of Egbaland, on November 10, 1992, showed interest in the race.
The administrators of the two political parties then announced March 27, 1993 as the convention date for both the SDP and NRC. While the Social Democratic Party announced Jos as the venue for its convention, the NRC announced Port-Harcourt as that for its own, with both parties having over five thousand delegates each. The Port Harcourt convention was attended by prominent leaders of the NRC, including Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and Alhaji Ibrahim Shinkafi. At the convention, Alhaji Ahmed Kusamotu defeated Senator Lawrence Adekunle Agunbiade alias LAKO to emerge as the party chairman. Senator Agunbiade was from Ise in the present Ekiti State, while Dr. Kusamotu was from the royal family in Ikirun in the present Osun State.
A greater part of the bill for the Port Harcourt Convention was bankrolled by Chief Christopher Pere Ajuwa (1941-2017), a businessman from the present Bayelsa State. Chief Ajuwa, a former footballer of the Western Tornadoes in Ibadan was married to an Ibadan woman who gave him nine children.
Among those who attended the Convention from the South-West were Dr. Tayo Dairo, Chairman NRC in Ondo State; Chief Babaremilekun Victor Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode (1921-1995); Chief Ayodele George Ogunlade; Chief Segun Ojo alias THE GENERAL, from Emure-Ile near Owo; Dr. Doyin Okupe from Iperu; Chief Samuel Olayiwola Alani Bankole from Abeokuta; Otunba Dele Teniola from Idanre; and Otunba Doyin Ogungbe from Ago-Iwoye, who had only 15 votes in the election for the presidential nomination and others; while Dr. Hyde Udeze Onuagoluchi also attended from the South-East.
Among those who attended the Port Harcourt convention were John Nwodo, Dr. Dare Bada, Bashir Dalhatu, Professor Eyo Ita, Prince Fola Afonja, Dr. Bawa Walka and Theo Nkire.
In the election that followed, Alhaji Bashir Uthman Tofa emerged as the presidential candidate of the NRC and he named Dr. Sylvester Uzor Ugoh as his deputy on the ticket. Under President Shehu Shagari, Dr. Ugoh was the minister for Education. He was from Umuokarika in Imo state.
At the Jos Convention, Chief Abiola was elected as the presidential candidate and he quickly named Alhaji Baba Gana Kingigbe as his running mate. Chief Anenih was elected chairman of the party. Among those who attended the Jos Convention were Dapo Sarumi, Amos Idakula, Abubakar Rimi, Dr. Okechukwu Odunze, Joseph Toba, Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Olusola Saraki and Alhaji Sule Lamide.
Then the campaign followed. Incidentally, Chief Abiola, Alhaji Tofa and Dr. Ugoh were members of the Constituent Assembly between 1977 and 1978. Chief Abiola represented Abeokuta constituency, while Alhaji Tofa represented Dawakin Tofa. Dr. Ugoh represented Abah-Mbaise/Ahiazu-Mbaise.
On June 10, 1993, a shadow association known as Association for a Better Nigeria filed a case against the National Electoral Commission, seeking to prevent the Commission from holding the election. The association was sponsored by one of the banned presidential aspirants, Chief Arthur Francis Nzeribe from Oguta in Imo state, while Otunba Abimbola Davies was secretary of the association. The Chief Judge of Abuja High Court, Mr. Justice Dahiru Saleh, who served between 1984 and 2002, assigned Justice Bassey Ikpeme to handle the case. Mrs. Ikpeme, who died in 1997 had earlier worked in the chambers of the attorney general and minister of justice, Chief Clement Akpamgbo. At 10.00 p.m. Justice Ikpeme granted an injunction restraining Chief Humphrey Nwosu’s NEC from holding the election, in a judgment that was compounded by the Justice’s referencing of Decree 13 in her ruling, while admitting that the NEC was free to ignore the judgement. There was tension in the country. The next day, June 11, Justice Moshood Olugbani of the Lagos High Court gave a counter ruling that Professor Nwosu’s NEC should proceed with the election.
The American government, through its embassy’s director of information, Mike O’Brien, had warned that the U.S.A would look unfavourably on a delay of the election. He had forwarded a terse memorandum from the American government to the Federal Military Government stating that: “We are awaiting the Federal Military Government’s reaction to the high court decision. However, any postponement of tomorrow’s election is unacceptable to the US Government.”
The results of the election in the Federal Capital territory, Abuja and the 30 States in excistence in Nigeria then were: (FCT): NRC – 18,313, SDP – 19,968; Abia: NRC – 151,227, SDP – 105,273; Adamawa: NRC – 167,239; SDP – 140,875; Akwa Ibom: NRC – 199,342; SDP – 214,787; Anambra: NRC – 159,258, SDP – 212,024; Bauchi – NRC – 524,836, SDP – 339,339; Benue: NRC – 186,302, SDP-246,830; Borno: NRC – 128,684, SDP – 153,496; Cross River: NRC – 153,452, SDP-189,303; Delta: NRC – 145,001; SDP – 327,277; Edo: NRC – 103,572, SDP – 205,407; Enugu: NRC – 284,050, SDP-263,101; Imo: NRC – 195,836, SDP – 159,350; Jigawa: NRC – 89,836, SDP – 138,552; and Kaduna: NRC – 356,860, SDP – 389,713; Kano: NRC – 154,809, SDP – 169,619.
The results from the other States were: Katsina: NRC – 271,077, SDP – 171,162; Kebbi: NRC – 144,808, SDP – 70,219; Kogi: NRC – 265,732, SDP – 222, 760; Kwara: NRC – 80,209, SDP – 272,270; Lagos: NRC – 149,432, SDP – 883,865; Niger: NRC – 221,437, SDP – 136,350; Ogun: NRC – 59,246, SDP – 425,725; Ondo: NRC – 162,994, SDP – 883,024; Osun: NRC – 72,068, SDP – 365,266; Oyo: NRC – 105,788, SDP – 536,011; Plateau: NRC – 259,394, SDP – 417,565; Rivers: NRC – 6408,973, SDP – 370,578; Sokoto: NRC – 372,250, SDP – 97,726; Taraba: NRC – 64,001, SDP – 101,887; and Yobe: NRC – 64,061, SDP – 11,887.
According to unofficial results, National Republican Convention (NRC)’s Tofa got a total of 5,952,087 (41.64 per cent) of votes nationwide, while Abiola, running on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), scored 8,341,309 (58.36 per cent). The total votes cast was 14,293,396. Abiola won 19 of the 30 states and the FCT, leaving Tofa with 11 states.
Sadly, the election was annulled via a four paragraph statement circulated on June 23, 1993 by Nduka Irabor, who was then the chief press secretary to the vice president, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu.
The statement read thus: “In view of the spirit of litigation pending in various courts, the federal government is compelled to take appropriate steps in order to rescue the judiciary from intra-voyaging. Those steps are taken so as to protect our legal system and the judiciary from being ridiculed and politicised, both naturally and internationally.
“In an attempt to end this ridiculous charade which may culminate in judicial anarchy, the Federal Military Government has decided to stop forthwith, all court proceedings pending or to be instituted and appeals thereon in respect of any matter touching, relating or concerning the presidential election held on June 12, 1993.
“The Transition to Civil Rule Political Programme (Amendment Number 3), Decree Number 52 of 1992 and the Presidential Election (Basic Constitutional and Transitional Provision) Decree Number 13 of 1993 are hereby repealed. All acts or omissions done or purported to have been done, or to be done by any person, authority etc, under the above named decrees are hereby declared invalid.
The National Electoral Commission is hereby suspended. All acts or omission done or purported to have been done by itself, its officers or agents under the repealed Decree number 13, 1993 are hereby nullified.” CONCLUDED.
Eric Teniola, a former director in the Presidency, Writes from Lagos.