By Clifford Ndujihe & Dapo Akinrefon
ABUJA—PRO-DEMOCRACY activists and leaders were divided, yesterday, over comments by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was one of the architects of the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, which flung the country into the abyss of socio-political and economic dislocation for six years.
While former Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, and Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, President, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, saw the exposure as a welcome development, Ms Ayo Obe, another former CLO president and lawyer said it was neither here nor there, wondering why Kingibe was just speaking up.
General Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, supported Kingibe’s claim but Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, and former political adviser to Obasanjo, Akin Osuntokun, disagreed with Kingibe urging him to hide his face in shame.
Another of Obasanjo’s former aides and ex-Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, described Kingibe’s claim as a blatant lie.
It’s a welcome development – Agbakoba
Reacting, Agbakoba said: “What I see are comments. We can’t trust what is coming out. They are all stories and we are beginning to learn about how the military fooled us in those days.
‘’One cannot say whether it is true or not but it shows the depth of how the military held us in captivity.
‘’If Babagaba Kingibe, who is an insider, is able to begin to reveal our dark past and history, it is a very welcome development because no nation can grow if it does not understand where it is coming from.
‘’I congratulate Kingibe for being courageous enough to begin to expose the dark past. This is the beginning of the exposure of our dark past by many actors of the time.”
Ayo Obe: Why is Kingibe just speaking up?
On her part, Ayo Obe said: “As far as I am concerned, I don’t know who is speaking the truth. All I know is that President Obasanjo has shown that the idea of not making June 12 the inauguration day right from the beginning did not happen by chance.
“President Obasanjo ignored every attempt when the National Assembly said the National Stadium, Abuja, should be named after MKO Abiola, after all he was the Pillar of Sports in Africa.
‘’However, I wonder when Kingibe came to know about Obasanjo’s involvement. Nigerians voted for Obasanjo as president in 1999. If he knew then, why didn’t he say such then? Why is he telling us now? Quite frankly, it is neither here nor there.”
Kingibe is right, but… — Opadokun
In his reaction, General Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Mr. Ayo Opadokun supported Kingibe’s claim, disclosing that Obasanjo threw his weight behind the annulment because he wanted to head the Interim National Government, ING.
Speaking with Vanguard, Opadokun lampooned Kingibe for betraying the late Abiola by accepting to work with the late General Sani Abacha.
Opadokun said: “Kingibe should purge himself of the act of blatant betrayal first by selling out the mandate, which the Nigerian people gave to Chief MKO Abiola and himself.
‘’He was part of the collaborating clique that was in the kitchen cabinet of General Sani Abacha and in the process, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs respectively.
‘’He (Kingibe) kept on lying and denying the various brutal acts of human rights violation, repression, humiliation, detention and even elimination of human rights activists and people with contrary opinion, such as that of Ken Saro-Wiwa.’’
Corroborating Kingibe’s statement, which indicted Obasanjo, the NADECO scribe said: “On Obasanjo, there is no doubt about that, he was part of those who collaborated to scuttle the victory of MKO Abiola.
‘’Two days after the annulment was made, I went to Chief Olu Falae’s house and we agreed that MKO Abiola should address a world press conference to reject the annulment.
“So, we wrote a draft of a press conference for him and the three of us proceeded to Abiola’s house. When we got to Abiola’s house, we met Kingibe and Dr. Patrick Dele Cole who also came for the same purpose. They also came with a draft. So, it took us a long time to convince MKO Abiola to address a world press conference.
‘’While we were talking to him, a call came through and Chief Abiola put the phone on speaker. It was General Obasanjo, who was then in the United States of America.
‘’There, he told Chief MKO Abiola not to make any statement, that he (Abiola) should wait and that he (Obasanjo) was watching as events unfolded.
‘’From behind the scenes, we were told that even before he (Obasanjo) left for the USA, he had been contacted to be the head of the contraption called Interim National Government, ING, and in his presence, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, retd, had agreed to make him chairman. It was after he (Obasanjo) left that IBB ditched him to utilise Chief Ernest Shonekan.”
He should be ashamed of himself—Adebanjo
Also reacting, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, took a swipe at Kingibe, saying he should be ashamed of himself.
Adebanjo said: “It is unfortunate that someone like Kingibe should be talking about the annulment of June 12. This is someone who sold out during the June 12 struggles. This can only happen in a country like this. He should be ashamed of himself.”
Also speaking, a former Political Adviser to Obasanjo, Akin Osuntokun, said: ‘’Well, can you imagine Kingibe accusing anyone of betrayal on the annulment of the June 1993 Presidential election?
‘’For that matter, can you imagine Kingibe accusing anyone of treachery and betrayal of any worthy cause at all? Wonders shall never cease .
‘’In a way, that is not yet clear. His allegation at this point in time would be in furtherance of his long speculated Presidential ambition. Because you have to wonder, where is this coming from?”
It’s a lie —Fani-Kayode
Also reacting, former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, described Kingibe’s assertion as “ a lie from the pit of hell.”
In a statement, Fani-Kayode said: “”The assertion that President Olusegun Obasanjo had any hand in the annulment of the June 12 election is a lie from the pit of hell.
“We must not allow anyone to indulge in historical revisionism or re-write history. Obasanjo was not a member of General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration and neither did he have any hand in that monstrous perfidy and conspiracy against democracy and the Nigerian people.
‘’As a matter of fact, the man that insisted on the annulment of the June 12 election did so literally at gunpoint. Gen. Sani Abacha was the same person that set up Obasanjo in a trumped-up coup a few years later, jailed him and attempted to murder him with a lethal injection while he was in jail.
“The same Abacha was responsible for the murder of Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua when he was also falsely accused and jailed for coup-plotting.
“It is the greatest irony of history and fate that the same Kingibe that has made this allegation against Obasanjo and who was a protege of both Obasanjo and Shehu Musa Yar’adua ended up serving in a government that was led by the same Sani Abacha who not only insisted on the annulment of Abiola’s mandate but also jailed and was intent on killing them both.
“It is easy to see and discern who the real villain and traitor is between Obasanjo and Kingibe in this matter. One stood for democracy, while the other joined and collaborated with those that literally killed it.”