By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—TWENTY- three years after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, supposedly won by late business mogul and candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, National Chairman of the party at the time, Chief Tony Anenih, has said Abiola refused to heed his warning not to declare himself president.
Anenih, who revealed this in his autobiography, titled My Life and Nigerian Politics, said: “ I wish he had listened to my advice not to declare himself president of this country.
‘’If he did, I believe he would, in all probability, still have been alive today. Frustration arising from the collapse of his scheming drove him into the extreme step which, in the end, set up a chain of events that ultimately cost him his life.’’
According to Anenih, after declaring himself president, Chief Abiola was detained and efforts were made to secure his release, but his friend, late General Sani Abacha, refused.
He noted that Abacha wrote, saying “The case of Chief Abiola who is standing trial for treason has gone widely distorted in the orchestrated campaign to mislead the world.
‘’An act of treason is as serious as it is grievous. It is an assault on one’s fellow citizens. Those who describe Abiola as a political prisoner seek to trivialize the grave offence for which he is charged…”
Chief Anenih, who was Chairman of Board of Trustees, BoT, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also revealed that late General Shehu Yar’Adua played a significant role in his life, adding that the late general and politician made him what he is in politics today.
“Any account of my role in Nigeria’s political centre stage cannot end without a discussion of my relationship with Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
‘’As I indicated earlier, it was Shehu Yar’Adua who made me what I am in politics today. While he was alive, he was a good leader, a strong politician who was ready to do anything to achieve success in politics as he did in the army.” he said.
In the 257-page book, made up of eleven chapters, appendices and colourful pictures, Chief Anenih opened up on what took place and the political intrigues that characterized the political scene at the time.