By Charles Kumolu & Gbenga Oke
Lagos— FORMER General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, has lambasted Chief Tony Anenih over his comments that he advised Chief M.K.O Abiola not to declare himself President, which the late business mogul did not heed.
Chief Anenih was the national chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, the platform with which the late Abiola, presumably, won the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Abiola died in detention in July 1998. He was arrested after he declared himself as president.
The Kokori-led NUPENG played crucial roles in the series of June 12 protests to actualise Abiola’s mandate.
In his autobiography entitled: My Life and Nigeria Politics, Anenih, 83, among others, said he wished Abiola listened to his advice against declaring himself president because “if he did, I believe he would, in all probability, still have been alive today.”
Reacting to this statement, Kokori told Vanguard on phone, yesterday: “I read the statement by Anenih and that was correct, even myself, who was a key player then was not told by Abiola. He never told me that he was going to declare himself President.
“But that does not hide the fact that Anenih as chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, which Abiola belonged to, betrayed Abiola and the June 12 struggle.
“Anenih scuttled June 12 and incapacitated the struggle for the actualisation of Abiola’s mandate. It was natural that Abiola declared himself President because he won the election and had the mandate of Nigerians to be President.
I have no reason to doubt Anenih — Zwingina
However, former associate and campaign manager of Chief MKO Abiola, Senator Zwingina, said he had no reason to doubt the statement credited to Chief Anenih.
“I believe some of those advice were given at close quarters, maybe when Anenih visited him. However, I cannot say much about it because I was not present at the meeting and it is difficult to corroborate unless someone was with them when the discussion took place. I have no reason to doubt Chief Anenih on his statement in his book.”