Ernest Shonekan

By Eric Teniola

I GUESS that history will be very kind to Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan(May 9, 1936-January11, 2022). Why? Because his tenure was the shortest, just 82 days.

While his colleagues have been brutally treated by history either for action or misaction, I am sure history will treat Chief Shonekan lightly because he did not do much.

In fact, he was overthrown on November 17, 1993 by General Sani Abacha on the very day he was to move to The Villa and take residence. I do not know whether the happiest day of his life was November 17, 1993, but he felt relieved after that day. After his tenure, his wife, Mrs. Margaret Shonekan, born in Gusau, capital of Zamfara State on October 8,1940, rejoined the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, on April 1,1994 as its senior deputy.

She was then hired as the WAEC’s Head of National Office on October 30, 1995, defeating five male colleagues who also sought the position.

Mrs. Shonekan served as the Head of National Office at WAEC from October 30, 1995 until her retirement on September 30, 2000. She described her time as Head of National Office as her most difficult years with the WAEC due to the examination board’s lack of adequate funding and its empty treasury at the time. She retired from the WAEC in 2000.

The couple resumed their regular attendance at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos with no funfare but as ordinary worshippers. Chief Shonekan talked less after his overthrow, carrying to his grave his opinion on what led to his removal and how he felt after his overthrow.

He neither wrote a book nor granted any interview till he died. On top of it all, as the Abese of Egbaland, he was buried in far away Lagos. His voyage to government was in January 1993 when he was made the Chairman of the Transitional Council appointed by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, 80.

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His cabinet members at that time 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 (retd) (Administrator of the Federal Capital Territory), Oladele Olashore (Secretary for Finance), Chief Matthew Mbu (Secretary for Finance), Alhaji Saidu Isa (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), Dr. C.Okogie (Secretary for Health and Human Services, 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), Chief Phillip Asiodu (Secretary for Petroleum and Mineral Resources), Francis Oji (Secretary for Police Affairs), Air Vice-Marshal Nura Imam(Secretary for Power, Mines and Steel), Alhaji Hassan Hadeja (Secretary for Petroleum Resources), Alhaji Oladuni Ayandipo( Secretary of State for Power, Mines and Steel, Alhaji Maccido Dalhat (Secretary for States and Local Government Affairs), Mrs Emily Imoukhuede (Secretary of States and Local Government Affairs, Chief Oluwole Adeosun (Secretary for Transport and Communications), Yusufu Galadima (Secretary of State for Transport and Communications) and Chief Barnabas Gemade (Secretary for Works and Housing). When Chief Shonekan became Head of State in August 1993, the following were the members of his cabinet: Defence Secretary, Gen. Sani Abacha; Secretary of State (Defence), Alhaji Umaru Baba; Agriculture/Natural Resources, Prof. Jerry Gana; Commerce/Tourism, Chief Mrs. Kuforiji Olubi; Communications, Chief Dapo Sarumi; Education and Youth Development, Prof. Abraham Imogie; Finance, Alhaji Aminu Saleh. Others were FCT Administrator: Maj.Gen. Gado Nasko; Foreign Affairs, Chief Matthew Mbu; Secretary of State (Foreign), Alhaji Saidu Isa; Health and Human Services, Prince Adelusi Adeluyi; Internal Affairs, Chief Ezekiel Yesufu; Industries, Chief Ignatius Kogbara; Information and Culture, Mr. Uche Chukwumerije; Justice, Mr. Clement Akpamgbo SAN; Petroleum/Mineral Resources, Chief Donald Etiebet; Secretary of State (Petroleum), Alhaji Ibrahim Al; Labour and Productivity, Prince Bola Afonja; Power and Steel, Alhaji Hassan Adamu; Secretary of State (Power and Steel), Alhaji Oladunni Ayandipo; Police Affairs, Alhaji Abdullahi Mahmud Koki; Science and Technology, Prof. Bartholomew Nnaji. 

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