By Dayo JohnsonÂ & DapoÂ AkinrefonÂ
The National Coordinator of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform, CODER, Mr. Ayo Opadokun reviewed, yesterday, events surrounding the June 12, 1993 election, and revealed how former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida tricked politicians including the late Chief MKO Abiola.
Mr. Opadokun in a lecture in Ikeja to mark the 17th anniversary of the annulled election, cited an instance during the Jos convention of the defunct SDP when General Babangida allegedly told Chief Abiola on phone that he (IBB) had some contribution to make to him (MKO) in respect of the partyâ€™s primary.
â€œIBB asked MKO whether he wanted it in cheque or in cash.Â MKO decided for cash and told IBB that he would send his own private jet to collect the fund and he in fact did soâ€, Mr. Opadokun said.
He cited another example and said: â€œOne of our leaders in the progressive camp (HM) was initially supporting another presidential aspirant from the South West (COF). HM nominated a liaison officer for COF and funding was being provided to HM in furtherance of the aspiration of COF. But along the way and in furtherance of IBBâ€™s self-succession agenda he cancelled the ban he placed on certain categories of former public office holders and HM became qualified to contest.
â€œWe then went for a meeting outside Lagos and as a group we were to formally adopt COF as our aspirant. HM asked us to postpone for two weeks the meeting we were proposing to hold to adopt COF.
â€œWithin one week, I and a few others got signals that HM had been a guest of IBB and he had been adopted as the favourite aspirant.Â And of course he had his wallet loaded as initial empowerment. He stopped attending our meetings thereafter .Â About a week later, he addressed a press conference claiming that he had consented to pressures from his associates to run for the SDP presidential primaryâ€.
Mr. Opadokun also recalled how IBBâ€™s kitchen cabinet members â€œincluding those of them now presiding over sensitive political affairs in Nigeria, insisted on disallowing the holding of the June 12 election, the other wings, which was led by Gen. Sani Abacha then firmly rooted in Lagos insisted that the election must hold.
â€œThis was not because they loved democracy but as a means of eliminating IBB and his boys from the political and military offices they were holding.â€
Diary of events at the home of late Chief MKO Abiola
Friends and associates of the late business mogul and proclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 elections in Nigeria, Chief MKO Abiola, yesterday, converged on his Ikeja residence for the 17th anniversary of the annulled election.
Gbenga Oke filed in this diary from the event.
8am – Only a few people are within the premises.Â People are trickling in in twos and threes.
8.30 – Chairman, Social Democratic Mega Party, Professor Pat Utomi and the moderator of the event, Wale Okunniyi, accompanied by others arrive, shaking hands with other people.
9. 15am – Ovation Publisher, Dele Momodu, Niger Delta activist, Tony Uranta arrive. Former Vice-chancellor of University of Calabar, Professor Kelvin Etta also walks in.
9.30 – The Colloquium series takes off, one and a half hours behind schedule.
9.45am – Chairman of the event, Professor Pat Utomi gives opening speech, followed by others who take turns to speak.
10am – Representative of the Abiola family, Jamiu Abiola delivers own speech.
10am – Lawyer and Activist, Mr Chris Nwokobia: Yerima Shettima; Mr Mike Igini, Annkio Briggs joins the crowd.
10.30am – Son of late legal luminary, Mohammed Gani Fawehinmi, Dr Odion Silvestre arrive.
10.30am – Professor Pat Utomi leaves, handing over to Dele Momodu to take charge of the event.
10.45am – Groups like â€œOur Right Youth Wing Organisation of Nigeria and Africa Youth Initiative for Good Leadership arrive drumming and singing.Â The event now looking like a carnival.
11.00am- Lagos Lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo arrives.
11.15am – A general address by Wale Okunniyi and other activists outside the house in company of Dele Momodu, Jamiu Abiola, Mike Igini, Tony Uranta.
11.45am – Photographs followed by refreshment.
12.00pm – Event closes.