EWD, Part 2

PART TWO

• Introduction to Part Two

• Diary entries from June 24 to June 30
– From 12 days ago
– Haiti for Nigeria
– Darkness Gathers
– To Quit or Stay
– Listening to Sule
– Time to Speak

• Diary entries for July
– Many People, Many Voices
– Aburi and June 12
– Kuti, Falana and Gani
– Interim or National Government?
– Neither Tofa nor Abiola?
– Bells of Justice
– Polls, Polls, Polls
– ‘Dirty’ Arthur
– Demonstrations: Babu
– To the Courts
– Drums of War
– Obasanjo’s ‘Training Camp’
– Ibe and Godwin
– Rumours, Rumours

• Entries for August
– Another View
– ‘Killing’ Uche
– Interim Option
– Will IBB Go?
– So, IBB Left!
– If June 12 Had Stayed!

To You (The Reader)

This is an intimate record of what happened and how I saw it from day to day between June 24, 1993 after the annulment of the June 12 Presidential Election by the Military Administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and August 27, 1993 when the military was supposed to have handed over the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a democratically-elected President. The entry of June 24 spells out details of what is intended.

The details in the diary that identify persons in sensitive positions are deleted for obvious reasons. Where such deletion would befog the point being made, however, the names have been left, and in the hope that those so affected would not see this exercise as constituting any breach of confidences between the actors. I can assure them that I shall remain as steady as ever in protecting sources of information.

It is difficult for you to believe that at the time of writing on the dates listed, there was no way of knowing how things would go. You now have the benefit of hindsight and can safely say how right or wrong I am in saying one thing or the other. But concede that I had to work with the facts at my disposal and with the shortcoming of one who lays no claim to mediumship.

But looking back, the documentation here would seem to have scored high on the ‘fulfilment of prophecy’ scale. With this part as yardstick therefore, the next part should be in better focus as the future will have to attest to its fulfilment. This part influenced the title of this little book. I wanted to describe the period as “Two Months of Madness”, but I decided that it would give the impression that outside the two months, we as a people and a country had shown respectable signs of sanity. And so I decided on titling the work, “Experiment with Disintegration”.

I believe that it is only after this country has packed up that we of this generation will begin to appreciate what we have done. Future generations would look back and wonder why we did not see what was
happening as signs of the times when everything would kiss the dust in the new upbuilding. If we saw and understood and appreciated the signs, we would zero inwards and address the fundamental need to see the world first and foremost from the spiritual. We would then automatically be closer to a position where, in whatever we do, we would sense the presence of love and JUSTICE. And then learn to love
and do to others only what we would want them to do to us. How else can you define JUSTICE?

But we have seen from very narrow perspectives, from the ethnic or religious, even gender points of view. We have seen this country from the point of view of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo. The three groups even fail to notice that there is the Efik, the Tiv, the Edo, the Ijaw, the Koma. The truth is that until we see ourselves first and last as people, as human beings, we have a lot of trouble to contend with in future, in the new upbuilding.

From me,

Prince Tony Momoh
October 27, 1993

NOTE:

I kept this diary from June 24, a day after the June 12 election had been annulled, to August 28, a day after the Military Administration was supposed to have handed power to an elected President.

June 24, 1993: FROM 12 DAYS AGO

I start to-day to chronicle what may well be the start of the disintegration of the geographical entity called Nigeria. The reason it may disintegrate is the way the change from Military to Civil Rule is
being handled. It can be recalled that on June 12, 1993, elections were held to fill the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Chief Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) were the two contestants.

Before the elections, a group that calls itself the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) filed an action at the High Court at Abuja saying the National Electoral Commission (NEC) should not hold the election. This application was granted by Hon. Justice Ikpeme but NEC said Decree 13 of 1993 under which it operates is clear that no Court can stop it from conducting an election.

Even if there was such order, the Decree says NEC should disobey it. On June 11, NEC said the elections would be held as planned on June 12.

I was going to vote but I could not lay hands on my registration card. That would, I believe, be the first time I would vote in my life. I would vote for Abiola because he is a Chief of Auchi and he has internationally recognised track record and connections. My wife voted. Also Pauline who stays at 1004 in Victoria Island but had registered at our office at 13, Sylvia Crescent, Anthony Village, in May 1992 when NEC did the registration.

At the polling place (there was no booth) outside my Law Office at No. 13, Abiola won.

Out of 400 registered votes, only 117 or so were accredited to vote. Of those who turned up to vote, Abiola scored 88 and Tofa 17. The sorting and counting was in the full glare of everyone and there did not seem to be any way there would be fraud. I had watched the deliberations from the balcony of my office at No. 13.

Before I left the country on Sunday June 13 for London en route to Paris for the ’93 Paris Airshow, there was already jubilation that Nigeria had succeeded in conducting the freest and fairest election in its history. Results were being awaited with bated breath.

Would there be religious, ethnic and other influences in the voting? Abiola and Kingibe were both Muslims. Would Christians vote for them? Tofa (from Kano State) and Sylvester Ugoh (from Imo State)
were a combination of Muslim and Christian, and, sang that song during the campaigns, using radio and television. Would this have an impact?

Tofa, though from Kano State is of Kanuri extraction. Kingibe is Kanuri too. Abiola is Yoruba and Ugoh is Ibo. Where is Hausa/Fulani in this arrangement? Would they gladly accept a situation where they as rulers since independence discovered that they had no role to play at the level where all the decisions are taken? I wondered before the election if we would not have a twist where the Hausa/Fulani may turn out to be accused of messing up the electoral arrangements, even where they were not responsible.

But the Association for Better Nigeria is comprised of Arthur Nzeribe and his group who claim that they have a list of 25 million voters who have requested that Babangida should stay in office for another four
years. It is this Group that fought to stop the election and when NEC disobeyed the Court Order and went ahead to hold the election, this same group went to the Chief Judge of Abuja High Court, Hon Justice Saleh, and acquired another order that NEC should not announce the results of the elections.

Results of 14 States had been announced. There was a spate of actions in Court and the Judiciary became the forum to resolve political problems. Pity. Calls came from all over that the results should be released. And news flew all-over that the results should be cancelled and Governors asked to quit after political parties (SDP & NRC) had been banned etc, etc, etc.

I returned to the country on Sunday, June 19. By Monday things were moving so fast that the SDP had to hold a press conference (may have even been earlier) at which it announced the results. The press release signed by Abiola, the SDP Governors and Party officials claimed
– That Abiola scored a total of 8,187,720 votes
– That Tofa scored a total of 5,950,217 votes

This claim shows that Abiola scored a higher number of votes to meet one of the requirements for being elected. The statement also claimed that Abiola scored one-third of the votes in 28 States and Abuja; that
Abiola won an outright victory in Abuja and 19 of the 30 States of the Federation spread over geo-political, cultural, religious, ethnic and “all other national divides”.

Calls continue to be made on NEC to announce the results which it has suspended, doing so on the orders of the Chief Judge of the Abuja High Court. The grouse of many was why did NEC defy the court to hold an election and now fails to defy the Court to announce the results? The Federal Government was increasingly being pointed accusing fingers at. The Editor of New Nigerian resigned because he said an editorial was imposed for publication, having been faxed from Abuja. The editorial condemned the election, the low turnout, the NEC arrangements, etc.

I was very worried for Mr. President because I began to see the possibility of nullifying the election and the possibility of the military staying.

I believe this is a dangerous development. I believe the Military has been in government not because they are soldiers but because they are an organized and disciplined group. I believe the presence of any
group in government can only be temporary if getting there was not through due process. I believe the political class, if organized, can do better than any non-political group. I believe that if we had been
allowed to muddle our way through governance since independence, we would have established more credible standards. I believe that any attempt of the military not to quit by August 27 as promised would bring ridicule to the military. I believe this singular act would make the President lose a lot of goodwill among men of honour. Babangida may well be the man we need but his credit will evaporate if he decides to stay in power as a military leader beyond the August 27 he has
promised.

It was with the concern for the image of the President that I wrote him a letter, which I had dispatched on Tuesday morning to Abuja through Nigeria Airways flight. The long and short of the one-page letter is that he should not let the prediction of the oracles in our midst come true that there is a hidden agenda. I prayed for guidance for him.

I am contemplating two things if a decision is taken that August 27 will not be:
– to resign as Chairman of Nigeria Airways Board.
– to make a public bonfire of copies of the book (Reflections on Letters to my Countrymen).

This is because the book contains views honesty held that the Babangida Administration had worked selflessly for the recovery of Nigeria through the programmes set for it in the political, economic and
socio-cultural areas. It would mean we had programmed for failure from the out-set and that I personally had been taken for a ride. I hope not.

The decision to write these pieces from day to day arose from the announcement yesterday June 23, that Decree 13 under which NEC conducted the Presidential election had been repealed and all acts
undertaken under the Decree nullified. Which means that the Presidential election has been cancelled. NEC is also suspended. The President would broadcast to the nation before the week runs out.

Today (24/6/93) the National Security and Defence Council would continue its meeting which started yesterday.

I will write on the events as they unfold from day to day. I do sincerely hope that this is not going to be the story of how Nigeria broke up. No one knows who will be alive at the end of the day to tell the full story. The Light guides. May we be guided aright.
—————————————————————————————————————————————
The letter, dated June 21, 1993, is reproduced in Part One of this publication.

June 25, 1993: HAITI FOR NIGERIA

Today reactions are mounting on the Administration to ensure that Nigeria is not unduly inconvenienced through the military wanting to stay on in power. On June 21, after I had returned from the Paris Airshow (June 13-19), I had rushed a letter to Mr. President through Mr.
Lar, Nigeria Airways Area Manager in Abuja.

Two days after the letter was dispatched to Abuja. I was called up by the Guardian and asked of my reaction to the delay of NEC in releasing the results of the June 12 Presidential election and the various Court actions.

The Guardian published my reaction along with others in its issue of June 24, but the Guardian Express also called me on the morning of June 23, asking me to comment on the announcement that had just
been made.

The announcement was to the effect that the laws under which the National Electoral Commission had been operating had been repealed. The presidential election was therefore cancelled. NEC was also
suspended. I told Guardian Express that I had not heard the announcement and would therefore not comment. I said I would make comments only after I had heard the broadcast the President was going
to make. I said I had earlier made my views known to the Guardian on the elections and that the comments were all embracing enough.

In the evening of June 24, the Guardian Express, an evening paper, carried a fuller story of the interview I had granted the Guardian on the telephone. It was published on page 5.

Although the report is poorly handled, it carried the substance of what I did say. My point was simple. If NEC disobeyed a Court Order to conduct an election, it should continue to disobey the Court Order to
announce the results. The spate of actions in Court are dictated by political considerations and pronouncements of Courts are political in the extreme. The Courts will lose their credit thereby.

What Nigeria is doing, trying to short-circuit the results would boomerang. Nigeria is not an island unto itself. It is part of the world. The world cannot accept Nigeria in its fold if it toyed with democratic
principles. What is happening in Haiti where the Military refused to hand over power to a duly elected President may well happen to Nigeria. In the case of Haiti, the Security Council has voted to impose
an economic blockade.

It was after my interview that news came of America and Britain threatening to take action against Nigeria. The Government denied it through Information Secretary Uche Chukwumerije. But later in the
night of June 24, in a newsflash during the 9 o’clock NTA net-work news, the Government condemned attempts being made by Britain and the United States of America to destabilise Nigeria. Government said it would take action against any country that intervened in its internal
affairs.

The tragedy is that if this matter is not resolved fast enough, we will be in real trouble.

In the papers of today, Chief Abiola was quoted as issuing a statement saying he as President-elect had been given the mandate to assume office on August 27 and that he intends to keep the date with history.

There was a rounding off of the meeting of the Security Council today, and the briefing of the military and police also today at Abuja. After the meeting the President held an extended discussion with the Press at which he made the following points:
(a) The present Administration would quit August 27.
(b) There would be installed August 27 a democratically
elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(c) The June 12 election had been cancelled.
(d) The Transition Programme is not cancelled.
(e) A broadcast would be made June 26.

June 26, 1993: DARKNESS GATHERS

I am upset and thoroughly disappointed. I have just listened to the speech Mr. President gave on Network Television at 9.00 pm. And I rate it the most uninspiring that Babangida has given for a long time. The speech was barely five minutes old when the phone rang. It was the Guardian on the line. Perhaps they wanted my reaction. But how could I have reacted to a speech I was just listening to? I did not have the privilege, which papers have, of an advance copy.

The summary of the speech is that the cancelled Presidential election was marred by corruption and that people did not have enough notice of its being held

In effect, many were disenfranchised. The conditions for holding the next election do not seem to make for foolproof of the abuses alleged in canceling the one just held.

The change in the requirements for qualification are also arbitrary in the extreme. Instead of the constitutional provision of 35 years, it is now 50 years. Other conditions are brought in which would seem to have been programmed to get rid of Abiola and Tofa; Tofa on age, and Abiola on
date of joining SDP. Tofa is 46 and Abiola joined the SDP less than a year ago.

The saving grace the country may have, if the trend noticeable in the past continues, is that Nigerians do not seem to be committed. It is easier to mobilize thousands of dedicated Nigerians for a football match
than for a political cause. No one wants to be inconvenienced for a cause. No ideology. If there is cause for a demonstration, it soon loses its steam and people go home. What has happened tonight is unfortunate and I do hope that Nigeria sees its way clearly to August 27.

June 27, 1993: TO QUIT OR STAY

I went to Grailland for the Hour of Worship today. People in Lagos seem to be going on with their business. Whatever happens as a reaction to IBB’s broadcast may well be for a future date.

I hear market women in Lagos would not be opening tomorrow. I also hear that Abiola held a press conference today and seems to be taking IBB on. The newspapers all carried the broadcast of last night, even overdramatising the import.

I was at the Ikeja Country Club this evening for a lecture of the Grail Movement titled, “Salvation lies in the Truth”. It was given by Dr. Egbuna.

The lecture read at the Hour was “Ideal Human Beings”, Lecture 23 of the Message. But such people cannot be found on earth. The closest would be those, and they are very few, who “strive towards the ideal”. These are the people who can be regarded as having full value, “who have a great, often stupendous, goal in view, but who never allow themselves to live in the clouds. They keep both feet firmly planted on earth, so as not to lose themselves in what is unreal for life here”.

After the Hour, I raised the matter of my quitting Nigeria Airways in protest at what is happening. Col. Akinyemi (Rtd) said he would want me to give him time to think about it and revert to me tomorrow.
Sunday, my brother-in-law, said this type of behaviour is what is expected of a person of my calibre but that such people are few in Nigeria.

My wife did not agree I should quit. “You are not a politician. You do not belong to any political party. Why do you play God more than Jesus”, she said.

Bob said he knows Abiola is my friend but that Abiola has lots of other friends and well-wishers, too. Even the Chairman of the Transitional Council, Chief Ernest Shonekan, is Abiola’s friend and is also from his ethnic sub-group. If the Transitional Council that is supposed to have supervised the return to Civil Rule by August 27 is still in place and has not resigned, why do I want to play the hero!

My wife, Bob and others miss the point. I am not contemplating quitting because I love Tofa less than Abiola. But that I believe in honour. Mr. President must have some credit left for himself. The reasons given for canceling the elections are unedifying. It is as if the elections were cancelled before reasons for doing so were being hunted for. It does not just seem right to me that I should be so committed to an administration that would now seem in retrospect, to have programmed for failure of its return to civil rule programme. I feel cheated.

Anyway, I would have to wait to see things unfold. Will Nigerians watch helplessly or work hard to register certain predictable values? It is not just right for laws to change from day to day. Ban people now. Unban them tomorrow. Ban them again. Unban them again. It is too uncertain and there is nothing more frustrating as to be thrown around and blown around like a windcock.

My frustration is more in my certainty that IBB is messing himself up in the eyes of future historians. May be I do not have all the facts. But the support I have given undilutedly had been based on facts available to me. The broadcast just did not make me flow with the usual
enthusiasm to support Mr. President.

This country must work for salvation which lies in the truth, as Dr. Egbuna’s lecture this evening clearly says.

June 28, 1993: LISTENING TO SULE

I was at the Nigeria Airways House to-day for an emergency meeting of the Board when a note was sent to me by Tina, my secretary. She asked if I would like to speak with (name withheld) who was on the line. The gentleman works in the Presidency. As a minister, I learnt to send to Mr. President anything I thought was important for him to know or do and it was this gentleman more than any other person I trusted and so would go through.

When he came on the line, I sensed that things did not seem to be rosy. It was obvious that the propaganda war on the President was taking its toll. The papers show it. Today’s papers, especially the Concord and the Sketch carried a story announcing the resignation of Col. Abubakar Umar who was Governor of Kaduna State, then went to the US to read a Masters Degree in International Relations and has been on posting at Bauchi in-charge of the School of Armour. Ostensibly Umar did not agree with the decision of the NDSC to cancel the Presidential elections. The scathing publications reflecting the reactions of Nigerians were legion. The only favourable publication was a statement credited to Niyi Oniororo praising the step the President took.

Senibo Allwell Brown and Sule Hamma, both board members, had advised earlier against my contemplated resignation. Sule said it was a stupid thing to think about. We were working for Nigeria, he said.

I respect Sule. He is from Kano, had taught at Ahmadu Bello University and was Secretary to the Government of Kano State when Rimi was Governor. It was Sule who took me to Maitama Sule’s residence in April when I had visited Kano and wanted to discuss the political situation with this Nigerian whom I have profound respect for. They both had told me that they supported Abiola and that he would win in Kano. They had seemed so sure, and I was surprised they had no tinge of ethnicity like that Abiola was Yoruba and Tofa was from Kano. Now Sule was telling me it was stupid to quit the Chairmanship of the Airline because of the political situation. I made up my mind to remain.

I have gone this much explaining my state of mind because of what the gentleman from the Presidency discussed. Could I not talk to the press in support of the fact that Britain and America and others have no business in our internal affairs? Couldn’t I reach out to the BBC and others and tell them that?

I said no. I could not, and it was not even advisable. What is needed now is not a polarisation of views or opinion. The tension that is so literally visible should not be permitted to blow up into bloody
confrontation which in no time would degenerate into ethnic dimensions. I had had a mind to speak on this aspect of the threatening doom. One thing I have never done in my life is to mouth what I do not believe in. I told the gentleman that the reasons given for canceling the elections are pedestrian, unpersuasive and untenable. If there are more facts than were released, then the timing was ill-advised, coming as it did when the results of the election seemed to be favouring Abiola.

I am off to Abuja tomorrow (29/6/93) for a meeting to do with Nigeria Airways and Air Nigeria. I told the gentleman I would be seeing him. Then I could tell him what my thoughts on this matter are, and how I believe the matter could be resolved.

June 30, 1993: TIME TO SPEAK

I returned from Abuja this evening. I had left Lagos yesterday morning (29/6/93) to attend a meeting to which I was invited by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to discuss Nigeria Airways and Air Nigeria Matters. At about 11.00 a.m. I had woken up and had had an urge to issue a press statement on what is going on. I worked on a statement and started to print it out at 6.00 p.m.

I addressed notes to NTA, Daily Times, NAN, Guardian, Champion, Tribune, Vanguard and others. The statement was announced on network news at 9.000 p.m. 29/6/93; published in the Daily Times of
today fully on the back page and in some other news papers besides.

Shehu whom I had sent out to distribute the release told me this evening that some of the newspaper guys were excited that I had made a statement on the issue at hand but seemed disappointed that I “stood” on the fence. I was expected to have been out fully to join the band wagon and condemn Babangida and ask him to rescind the NSDC’s decision to cancel the elections. What led me to writing the way I did was not such as to contribute to the inflaming of emotions. It was a short enough statement and in my view, very loaded.

Yes, I had spoken and if anyone cared to analyse what I had said, they could discover that it can only come from one who is ready to transcend religion and to transcend politics. I am not the one who would lose his head when everyone else loses theirs. I leave my contribution toposterity to judge.

July 3, 1993: MANY PEOPLE; MANYVOICES

As at the time of writing this Saturday morning of July 3, 1993, many groups have met the president to discuss the political impasse – the Governors (26/6), the traditional rulers (2/7) and executives of the two political parties (2/7).

Last night, the Oni of Ife was on television as spokesman of the traditional rulers. He said they had listened to what Mr. President had to say and that it made a lot of sense. They would therefore be going to their people to explain the message.

The executives of the political parties were also at Aso Rock (i.e. the Presidential Villa) and they met the President. The NRC welcomed the cancellation of the election. The SDP said they would be going back to
their members to discuss the matter further. But as at the time of speaking, their declared stand on 1/7/93, remained and that was that the June 12 election be upheld, that Bashorun Abiola be declared
winner of the election and that SDP would take no part in any other election.

On my return from Abuja on Wednesday 30/6/93, I came away with the following impressions, having spoken to Politicians on both sides (SDP & NRC) and many others besides, that:

(1) Abuja is too calm to read the mood of the nation from.
(2) Lagos is too tense to read the overall mood of the whole nation from.
(3) The Politicians have not stopped being self-serving and inordinately ambitious.
(4) Talks were already on for fielding of candidates to recontest the election.
(5) The pressure on the administration is more orchestrated by the press of the so-called Western Axis than anywhere else, and so the pressure is becoming more ethnic than national, and may be counter-productive.

In the last case, it would seem that those who are Yoruba-speaking are already being marginalised at Aso Rock. Why, for instance, would Duro Onabule, Chief Press Secretary to Mr. President, not be making
pronouncements? All his functions seem to have been switched to Nduka Irabor, Press Secretary to the Vice President.

It is Nduka who reported the annulment of the election through the repeal of Decrees 13 of 1993 and 52 of 1992 which effectively aborted all the work NEC had done thereunder. It is Nduka who made major
policy statements since then, and it would seem Onabule is sidetracked. Another clear case of marginalising is Chief Omowale Kuye who has worked for upwards of 30 years and is on special duties as DG in Mr. President’s Office.

We have worked together on the TCPC Committee on Air Nigeria which he heads. We have also related on the Implementation Committee of the TCPC of Air Nigeria as it has to do with Nigeria Airways. And when Government agreed to take over the debts of Nigeria Airways, we traveled together from June 13 – 19 to speak to some of the creditors. We had, therefore to be in London, Paris and Belgium.

At Abuja on 29/6/93, we were at a meeting presided over by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation where it was agreed that an urgent letter be written to Mr. President for a quick decision to be taken on what to do with Nigeria Airways debts before Air Nigeria takes off. Someone (name withheld) told me whether I was not aware that we should not relate to Chief Kuye. I said why. He said he had retired. I said no, he hadn’t but that he would effectively do so from July 31. He said, “Well Chief Kuye is the one giving information from here to Abiola”.

I told him it was untrue, that Chief Kuye is as dedicated to IBB as he has been all along and that if he had any divided loyalty, he would rather leave.

The matter of Chief Kuye’s involvement with Abiola was again raised when I saw (name withheld). He said Chief Kuye’s wife was earmarked for position of Attorney General in an Abiola cabinet and Chief Kuye himself was on Abiola’s Transitional Council. I told him this is most unfair and that a lot of documents seem to be flying all-over destroying otherwise innocent persons.

I reminded him that Priscilla Kuye was the President of the Nigeria Bar Association and that in that capacity she had issued statements on all important matters. What her stand was on the Abiola issue was consistent with the stand she had taken all along. I felt I should inform Kuye of what I had heard so that he could reach out to Mr. President and reassure him of his commitment. Chief Kuye was aghast with embarrassment. How could he ditch Mr. President he had worked with for so long, a man who he even advised should not hand over in January 1992.

He said at prayer that morning of June 30, he had thought of writing Mr. President and the title of the piece was “Before I am maligned”. I told him that since the matter of writing was not on his mind at prayer, that it crept up did emphasise the urgent need to write. He did a hand written two-page piece which he gave me to read and which I did, making a few suggestions. He redid it and had it sent to Mr. President who had gone to NAFCON Port-Harcourt for an engagement. I read the faired copy
while we waited at the VIP lounge, Abuja Airport to board an ADC flight to Lagos. The piece was to the point and OK. What men can do in times of stress!!!

July 8, 1993: ABURI AND JUNE 12

I left for Abuja on Sunday July 4. I was not alone. I had wanted 10 of us to go, to attend the launching of “The Babangida Men 1985 – 1992. The Making of Ministers”. It was authored by Prof. Ikenna Nzimiro who since the inception of the Babangida Administration in 1985 has been a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee.

I invited ABC Momoh, H.A. Momoh and wife, Dr. Unuane and Col. S.K. Akinyemi. My wife was to go as also Rasheed and Shehu and C.S. Momoh, my immediate younger brother who lectures at University of
Lagos. As at the time we were to go, H.A. came in and regretted he would be unable to make it because of things he had to set out to do in Lagos. Unuane himself was having an emergency on his hands. C.S.
said he would be at Abuja early enough on 5/7/93 to attend the occasion. Col. Hafiz Momoh would be there early too. Constance (Justice) Momoh felt we had been well represented and so could be left
out. I agreed.

It was a good thing the number that went was such as would be happy to wait for as long as we had to. For on Monday morning, we heard that demonstrations had started in Lagos. Volatile slogans were
everywhere. Bonfires were being made of Babangida’s effigies by prodemocracy groups. Later in the day, hoodlums took over and were demanding money. This sort of protest, we heard, would go on for five
days. We had to stay the night at Abuja (i.e. Monday Night).

But I had to, because at the book launching, I had been asked to chair the occasion and so sat with the President who said we should discuss the Nigeria Airways matter which I had raised.

We held the meeting ??? p.m. of 6/7/93. The chairman of the Transitional Council Chief Ernest Shonekan was there at the President’s. So also were Oladele Olashore, Finance Secretary; Chief Oluwole Adeosun, Aviation Secretary; Aliyu Mohammed, Secretary to the Government; Chief Omowale Kuye, D-G TCPC, myself and Mohammed Joji, MD/Chief Executive of Nigeria Airways.

The President was totally committed to Nigeria Airways staying alive and papers were to be written to raise money from the Capital Market, with Olashore playing a key role. My remaining in Abuja up to
Wednesday 7/7/93 was therefore not in vain. I went out of my way to meet many of the political party leaders – Parliamentarians, Governors and others. I had very fruitful and fulfilling discussions with Albert Legogie, deputy senate president and Chief Iwuanyanwu. I also met Chief Tom Ikimi, Governor Barda of Katsina State, Senator Adamu Augi, Abubakar Rimi, Francis Nwajei and many others.

As at the time of these discussions, Government had come out with options for the parties: they had to accept proposals for election by July 3 or opt for a National Government but which would lead to the
dissolution of all tiers of the political structure. It would be an all-civilian outfit and Babangida would not be part of it.

When I went out discussing the matter, I discovered that the NRC wanted an election, and that the SDP wanted to stick to June 12 elections. At lunch with Jane and Col. Akinyemi at the Nicon Noga  Hilton restaurant on 7/7/93, the legislators were arguing loudly. They do not seem to restrict their vituperations to the House or the lobby of Nicon Noga Hilton.

One yelled: On Aburi we stand.
Another: There must be elections.
First-man: Didn’t you hear! On Aburi we stand,
On June 12 we stand.
The Other: Didn’t you know what Aburi brought to this country?
Thirty months of civil war.
And on and on they yelled.

My advice had been that we must not stick to rigid postures. If NRC says there must be elections, that is a rigid position. If SDP says June 12 must stay, that is a rigid position. If they stick to rigid positions, they would not be addressing the matter in a mature manner.

The political class must present a common front. They must accept that August 27 is non-negotiable, so the military has to go. On what terms? If there are rigid positions, there may well be a coup d’etat which will move Babangida out but then, no one would organise a coup to put Abiola or any other civilian in power and think that is the end of the matter.

Why, I asked, could the parties not shift ground by accepting a National Government and ask Babangida to let Abiola head it.

Lagos had been taken over by demonstrators for two days (Monday/Tuesday). On Tuesday night, the Governor of Lagos State, Chief Michael Otedola with his deputy met Gen. Abacha who told him to
restore order in Lagos within 24 hours or the Army would take over the responsibility. The Governor said the problem was beyond him. The peaceful demonstrations had degenerated into extortions and looting by so-called Area Boys. Later that Tuesday night, the Army announced it would intervene. By Wednesday morning Lagos was under the control of soldiers. As at that time, deaths had been registered, the figure ranging from 4 to 12. Even the Mail on July 7 said 20 had died.

When we returned from Abuja in the evening of July 7, traffic in Lagos was sparse but everywhere was calm. The presence of the military was unmistakable. Two armoured vehicles were strategically stationed at Maryland, one at the gate of the Catholic School, its long nozzle pointing towards Ikeja Airport, and another at the petrol station at the Airport Road end of Ikorodu Road. Soldiers in camouflage dress held sternly to a variety of weapons but molested no one.

We had hardly entered the house when Vivian called me. She did not say why she called before she was telling me how she suffered on Monday morning when the demonstrations started. I told her that
demonstrations in Nigeria do not last, that the old, the young, boys and girls, men and women, usually move out to express their feelings and beliefs at demonstrations. But because we have no commitment to
political causes, only the young ones come out to demonstrate and soon hoodlums take over and there is chaos.

Vivian was most angry with my friend the President. Everyone is saying the President is my friend and I should tell him to get out. Because I chaired the launching of the book of Prof. Nzimiro (the VP did not
come), people wondered how I could be relating to a man everyone was running away from. My wife was told when she called our house in Lagos from Abuja that when our househelp/relative went to buy
something at Anthony Village, she was told “Prince Momoh was on TV with Babangida last night. He is coming to meet us here in Lagos”.

Even in Abuja, lots of the politicians asked me to talk to “your friend”. At the book launching, the President told me he received my letter written June 21 and thanked me for it.

So when Vivian started talking and hauling invectives at IBB, I knew it is because I am being closely associated with him. I do not regret this association. But people do not know that my meeting with him on 6/7/93 was the first time I would enter his office at Abuja since he left Lagos on December 12, 1991, and indeed the first time we would sit together since I left government in 1990.

But I have never let Babangida off my thoughts. I wish him well, always, in his rulership of Nigeria. I told Vivian I had to call her later because of the news that was being read at 7.00 p.m. news on Channel 10. The two parties had agreed that there should be an interim government. Which means as far as I am concerned, that the politicians have forgotten June 12 and that Chief Moshood Kashimawo
Abiola is ditched.

July 9, 1983: KUTI, FALANA, GANI

A young Journalist from the Punch called on me at my 13A, Sylvia Crescent Anthony Village office and wanted to interview me on the current Nigerian situation. I said offhand I would not see him or any
other Journalist. It turned out that the young man was the one to whom I had granted an interview earlier on wide-ranging issues and the interview had been published in the Sunday Punch. I sent Shehu, my office manager, to tell him I would see him but that there was not going to be an interview, especially as he had informed Shehu that he would like to collect a copy of my book. “Reflections on Letters to my Countrymen” which he wanted to review.

When the young man came in, we started to discuss and I told him why I would not grant an interview. I told him how everyone seemed to be falling over themselves wanting to be counted among those who love Chief Abiola. I do love Chief more than many would think. But I am no crowd-man. I am a one-man army, I said, because if I depend on people for support of what I want to do, they may disappoint me at a
time I would need them most. I told the young man of what happened with my Guardian interview: how when I said that NEC had no business not releasing the results of the election it conducted, the Guardian
Express went over to the Guardian and lifted the story for full use.

But when after the results had been cancelled by Government and I issued a statement entitled “Worrying Times”, some persons at Guardian were wondering why I would not take sides, asking why I
should be sitting on the fence. The reason I would not grant an interview therefore was that Nigerians were just not ready for the truth.

I told him that if I were Chief Abiola’s director of operations, I would make him take certain decisions that would make him ascend the highest position of this land or at least make him the country’s king maker in the SDP if the party remained unproscribed. If parties are proscribed, I would make Abiola form a political party which would sweep the elections because of the credit he has established. But no one seemed to be looking ahead. I set out the scenarios as follows:

(1) When the elections were cancelled the cancellation had to be resisted. The resistance would work if Nigerians ever believed in a cause. But they do not, to the extent of stamping their persons and their resources on it. I praise Beko Ransom-Kuti as the most credible civil liberties champion. Falana and Gani have been commendably active on the legal front though Gani’s language is unedifying. But how wide-spread are the protests that would anchor the resistance? The very people in the West who ought to give leadership are the first to go abroad. Check this out at the Airport. So my conclusion is that there will be needless destruction of property and loss of lives. The danger is also there
that news may spread that Northerners are being killed in the South. The inter-ethnic dimension I spoke of would come in, and to the extent that it affects the situation, to that extent would Abiola lose the support of the North. The push to force the hand of Government to reverse the decision can therefore be counterproductive unless it is done by the two political parties presenting a formidable front, unless the protests become national and properly managed, and there is sympathy in and outside the country.

(2) Where it is impossible or impracticable to reverse the June 12 decision of Government, then there has to be recourse to what our Dean of Students Affairs at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka
told us in the 1960’s. He told us to learn to co-operate with the inevitable. But what is the situation on the ground that has to be co-operated with? And what advantage can be taken of the reality?

The situation on the ground is that the June 12 election which Chief Moshood Abiola would have won has been cancelled and that the SDP and the NRC have accepted the cancellation by opting for a national
government. This would seem to mean that Chief Abiola has been ditched by the political class, especially the SDP. The issue then is whether it is a National Government or an interim National Government that the Government asked for. If the Government accepts that there should be a National Government, could not the two parties press for Chief Abiola to head it? This would have resolved a lot of issues and a strong foundation would have been laid for democracy. Whatever way anyone may look at it, the appointment of a Northerner to head a national government will be suspect and would ground the belief that the North does not want the South to head the government.

If on the other hand the government decides that an Interim National Government would involve the dissolution of all existing democratically established structures, then Chief Abiola should work to co-ordinate the floating of a political party along the lines of the support he had during the election. The party would have a large and sympathetic following and he would be a kingpin in his own right, If not the President or Prime Minister as whatever arrangements that may emerge would dictate. Even if the parties had opted for an election, Abiola would have voluntarily withdrawn and posted a candidate he would campaign for and the candidate could have won.

The above are ways in which in co-operating with the inevitable, advantage would have been taken of facts on the ground.

I told the young man from the Punch that we have a military that is doubly lucky. Nigerians hardly come out in support of anything that would inconvenience them. Also when any demonstration is organized,
it soon degenerates into looting and the very people who wanted it in the first place crave for the intervention of the authorities they were angry with, that they were demonstrating against.

At the 9 o’clock network news cast (8/7/93), Chief Abiola was quoted as saying he did not authorize any demonstration, that people were expressing their beliefs. He appealed for calm. Well, so far, there is
calm in Lagos and the West where the demonstrations had been concentrated and work had been stalled or stopped.

In Ibadan, it was published in the Sketch that Chief Niyi Oniororo, Chairman of the Nigeria Council for National Awareness (NCNA) had had his premises vandalized, his cars burnt and the equipment in his house destroyed. It was said the people were reacting to a statement credited to him and in which he supported the cancellation of the June 12 elections and condemned Chief Abiola.

That is democracy, the freedom to choose to be molested by those intolerant of the opinion of others. How ready are we for laying a foundation for democracy in this country? How ready?

July 10, 1993: I – INTERIM OR NATIONALGOVERNMENT?

The National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) met yesterday at Abuja to deliberate on the choice of the two political parties that a National Government be formed. Even as the Council was meeting,
differing interpretations were already being given to the acceptance of a National Government.

Jakande called on Abiola on 8/7/93 and he was reported yesterday in the papers as saying the National Government was going to be headed by Abiola. His explanation was premised on the fact that the President had said he would on August 27 swear in a democratically elected President. Since the choice proffered by the military was between an election on July 31 this year and a National Government (he did not mention interim), the parties had opted for the latter. And since the person to be sworn in has to be democratically elected and such election has taken place (on June 12) then Abiola is the person to head the National Government.

The argument is un-ingenious. It would seem that the party leaders are trying to explain their actions through the sides of their mouths. IBB had told them that the June 12 elections had been cancelled. NEC had not been given the opportunity to declare all the results but there would be no doubt as to who won. If the elections were cancelled, it means there were no elections. It is on the basis of the cancelled elections that the Administration said there had to be fresh elections on July 31. SDP said no, NRC said they were ready.

As there was no agreement on new elections, Government said the parties must agree on elections or on an Interim National Government. They were given an ultimatum to decide. They then went back to
present to Babangida a Joint Statement accepting a National Government and pleading for the retention of the institutions democratically set up to date. The question that June 12 was in contemplation does not therefore arise.

But it is a good bargaining posture in my view. The parties, especially the SDP, should insist that Abiola be asked to head the National Government. But would this government be an interim one or a government to run for 4 years? If interim, it means it would have a programme to pursue and would not be a part of the outcome e.g. the programme of elections. Abiola and his team would therefore be
responsible for organising elections etc. But how creditable would this be when the Administration accused the Presidential candidates of massive electoral fraud? If a National Government of the two parties is contemplated, then the presence of Abiola, the critics would be right to believe, would be a contradiction to the posture of the Administration which cancelled the results.

It would seem therefore that an Interim government does not contemplate either the headship of Abiola or the dominant presence of the political parties which themselves may be axed. The problem facing
the country therefore is not, in my view, close to solution.

Olabayo ofthe Evangelical Church of Yahweh was last night on television asking that people should fast for three days and saying people should not work for the break-up of the country. He said, as usual, that God had sent him.

In the knowledge in which I stand, I know as a fact that God did not create any problem for us. We are the architects of our own present misfortune, and if we want to resolve it, we should start with sowing
those seeds which will bear fruits that would redeem the situation. God has provided for resolution of problems, if they are created, and what else does one understand by Christ’s clear and unambiguous injunction that whatsoever we sow, that shall we reap? Have we sown seeds of disintegration? I think we have, by the way we have handled the elections. But how many Nigerias’ shall we have? There is no doubt that the military will resist any attempt to balkanize this country. The military may even not be united in insisting on a united country. And that makes it worse. The parties for break up will be aligned across the border (of politics and military) against the parties for staying together.

But whether we stay together or break up has to be a matter grounded on justice. From my discussion on the phone yesterday with Chief Omowale Kuye who said he travelled from Abuja to Lagos on the same
flight as Chief Iwuanyanwu, it is obvious that the Ibos would not accept a break-up. Chief Kuye quoted Chief Iwuanyanwu as saying that the Ibos would go to war with anyone who may want to secede. He said
Chief Awolowo had encouraged the Ibos to secede in the 60’s and promised that the Yorubas would follow, but that the Ibos had been abandoned to fight their battles alone. Chief Iwuanyanwu said the Ibos do not want to have it back on the Yorubas by encouraging them to secede. They want to make it clear that Ibos would not accept the break-up of Nigeria and if anyone tried it, the Ibos would fight them.

The Ibos, Chief Iwuanyanwu said, have investments all over Nigeria and they would fight to protect them. The above was also the substance of the discussion Chief Iwuanyanwu had with me when I met
him at his room at Nicon Noga on the night of July 6. I had gone to speak with him as I had done with many other political leaders, pleading that both parties work together to present a united front to the military so that the military would have no choice but to leave on August 27. But the key issue is that there is no meeting of the minds on the alternative to one Nigeria.

The NDSC rose from its meeting yesterday and gave no briefing on its decisions. They said they would be having a meeting of top military leaders on Monday to brief them on the NDSC meeting, then
government would meet political parties late Monday night to tell them of the outcome of the proposal to form a National Government of the two political parties. We have to keep our fingers crossed.

July 10, 1993: II – NEITHER TOFA NOR ABIOLA?

It is five minutes to mid-night. It was early in the morning today that I made the July 10 entry to cover July 9. But I had to get back to this diary because of what transpired generally today.

About 2.00 pm. I went to the Administration office on Grailland (after attending a meeting) and met Segun’s wife who said herself and the husband had seen me on TV and she was wondering why I would be representing the Vice President at this time. I told her what really happened.

It had to do with the launching of the book written by Prof. Ikenna Nzimiro and I was one of the 10 ministers cited for mention in the book. The SGF asked me to chair the occasion as the Vice President and the President could not be there together. Then the MC said I was representing the Vice President and would read his address. I ad libbed, for I was not representing the Vice President and there was no
address.

But the point is that many people felt I had to do with the government. There is nothing wrong with this but it would seem that people are watching to know where you are: on IBB’ side or on Abiola’s side. I was
to relate the same experience to Taiwo Allimi when he came this evening. I have not seen Taiwo since he was so very active for me on April 24, when I did my book presentation (Reflections on Letters to my
Countrymen) where he was Master of Ceremony and later at the party at my residence to mark 25 years of my marriage to Jane. He had moved office and I was therefore unable to reach him. This evening we
discussed the political impasse and proffered solutions, none of which would seem in the circumstance to be capable of keeping Nigeria together.

I was to hear (it may not be true) of the Brigadiers who have insisted that IBB would not leave and it was unfortunate to know that they included those of them who ought to have fully appreciated the consequences of failure to hand over to an elected civilian President.

Bob was later to add his blunt dimension to the many faceted problem. He it was who was in-charge of artillery on the Biafran side during the civil war. He had been involved in the 1966 coup and had been
detained in Enugu with Nzeogwu. When Biafra declared independence, he was in prison and was released by Ojukwu. He fought throughout the war. After the war, he was dismissed from the Army. We were to have entered the Army together in 1962 but I had taken the advice of an old man at the Cabinet office who had asked me to go to school and come in to join the Army if after my University Education I was still interested.

I had been preparing for the same exams with Bob. He did the exams and passed and was enlisted the same day as Babangida, Abacha and Omu, among others.

I did not get to joining the Army but as things were, I later had the opportunity to work with Babangida (1986 – 1990). Bob was of the opinion that the civilians should all be cleared out. Even before the
elections, he had told me he did not see any good material in either of the two candidates: Abiola and Tofa. Now, he does not see why Abiola should be sworn in. He tells me to mark it: “Abiola will never be
President of Nigeria”. He says if he were sensible, he could seek to seek power in Lagos and declare himself President and seek foreign help. But the snag is that he has no security forces to back him.

I and Taiwo had earlier agreed that if the political class and the two political parties were sacked and parliament dissolved, then the military would have a most formidable opposition since the dismissed
Governors etc could join in a pro-democracy movement. But with the institutions in place, the evil day would be put off and our problems would be papered over.

For Bob, nothing would happen if the political class is sacked. They are not organised. They are self-seeking. The demonstration would peter out within three days. Hoodlums would exert their presence and everyone would ask for a stop to be put to their nuisance. If there is pressure from within the army and IBB is toppled, those who come in won’t hand over to Abiola. Bob was quite sure that the politicians will chicken out.

I wish I can share the blunt assertions of Bob. As I told Taiwo, I am not a politician nor am I the President of Nigeria. I would not fast, either, in obedience to the call made by Prophet Olabayo who said the Almighty sent him to Nigerians. I know we created our problems ourselves and it
is for us to resolve them. As I have said, Tuesday July 13 (13 again !!!) will decide where Nigeria
will go. For on Monday night, the President will announce to politicians what the military has decided on the political impasse: an interim government or a national government. But what shape?

July 12, 1993: BELLS OFJUSTICE

I was at the hour of Worship on Grailland yesterday and was struck at the single tone of the largest of the three bells. It rang alone, the other two having broken down. I almost said having been silenced. I do hope I would have no reason to have felt the way I felt, relating the problem of Nigeria to the seeming lack of co-operation from the two bells.

I recall November 8, 1980 when these bells on Grailland were consecrated. In my unpublished book, “Tear Drops” I documented the incident as follows:

“On November 8, 1980, before my eyes and in the presence of some one thousand Nigerians, bells rang out into the hills and valleys of Nigeria and first imperceptibly into the hearts of men in this part of our planet. There was one big bell and two smaller ones. The big one was bold in its mission to give justice. The others provided the harmony for Divine Justice. They symbolized purity and love.

“For almost an hour, I heard them ring. The evening was giving way to the night, but as the bells rang, after being commissioned (note: I ought to have used the word ‘consecrated’) they seemed to have hastened the arrival of night.

“I found my way to the car park, my consolation being that now that the earth is encompassed by the light and has long passed the turning point of its life, knowledge will truly become light, and ignorance, being darkness, will drive itself to destruction”.

There is an intellectual aspect to the symbolism of the broken bells. Divine Justice at work with Love and Purity can be accommodated by man of the present time. But this is so because having provided a path
in his heart, through purity, for the ray of Love, he can fully appreciate Divine Justice as the Harvest that man merits from his previous myriad sowings. But the Bells of Love and Purity have broken down and left the Bell of Justice to ring alone with a tone that is distinct and harsh. There is no Purity in the hearts of men, and Love cannot descent because the path to the temple in the heart is blocked. But Justice must
take its cause unswervingly.

The Nigerian situation thus becomes stark clear to me. We merit the harsh Justice of a Devine Hand. The fasting Olabayo asked for may well open up our hearts to purity so that a path can be created for love to descend, so that we can more fully understand the consequences of our deeds.

I did envelope this and all the actors on the scene in my thoughts when this prayer was being said.

“We stand in the Light,
In Thy Creation,
And know of Thee,
O Creator of the Universe!
We know of Thine Infinite
Wisdom and Goodness.
Of Thine Everlasting Might
And inexhaustible Power!
In Worship, we raise our hands
And Beseech Thee:
Lord, let Thy great Goodness
And Mercy
Be upon us!
Amen.”

Later in the afternoon, I went to attend the Momoh Family Meeting at Brother A.B.C. Momoh’s residence at Sam Shonibare Street, Surulere. It was while there, even during the meeting that the issue on hand was being widely discussed. Was Abiola robbed? Is Babangida not a villain? Who can now deny that he had a hidden agenda all along? Is his hidden agenda not open now? Egho is the treasurer of the meeting and a pro-democracy worker; He told us that word had gone out that
people should stay in their houses today.

I was to hear this from many others later. Will there be demonstrations and looting in Lagos again? I had no doubt that this subject would be a pre-occupation in every home in Lagos.

Frank Olize featured the aftermath of the demonstrations and it was obvious that everyone was against the violence that occasioned. Olabayo was again spoken to on Newsline but as far as I am concerned
he was as vague in what he said the Almighty told him as he had been. He said he saw a lot of blood flowing but if the three days fasting which was requested was undertaken, the Good Lord would hear our prayers. Elders in Nigeria would get our problems resolved and in one year, Nigeria would recover from its travails in a wonderful way. He would not pronounce on whether the Army would quit on August 27 or not.

The fact is that no one is given the gift of seeing it all in Creation. In fact, the very fact of man’s free will destroys all permutations as to what specifically can happen from day to day. Man can change his mind for good or ill and that we have so much on our hands to contend with is evidence that we have in the past chosen wrongly. Blood will flow if we touch off the way we are going, looking, as I am told, for Northerners in Lagos. Did Northerners not vote for Abiola? And haven’t those looking
for Northerners in the name of settling scores not heard Abiola’s plea that we are all brothers and sisters? That there is no North or South, no Ibo or Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani in the issues; that there is no Christian or Muslim.

Why I wrote my bit on “Worrying times” is coming more forcefully into focus. July 13 is a watershed in the match of Nigeria to nationhood for after the President meets military men that day and a decision is taken and communicated to the parties, then July 13 begins a new era – to sustain the old ways or to start on a new path. May we be rightly guided. Amen.

P/S: It is 10 minutes to midnight. At 11 o’clock NTA newscap the long awaited decision of government was released. There would be fresh elections and a democratically elected government would be sworn in
on August 27. So no interim government or national government. We await reactions.

July 14, 1993: POLLS, POLLS, POLLS

Contrary to my apprehension, there was no explosion yesterday. The government had opted for an election instead of an Interim National Government. The reason given was that an all-civilian government working with established democratic structures would not be legal or legitimate. The only constitutional option therefore in the circumstance is to go for elections.

In the morning, a call had come from the Guardian Express. What is my reaction to the call for fresh elections? My answer was quite copious and it was fully carried in the July 13 issue of the paper. The
summary of my argument is that opting for an election would work if the parties accepted the option. I doubted that they would both do so. I recalled that in 1964 UPGA boycotted an election and the NNA was sworn in. If that happens this time around, history would be repeating itself and chaos-would occasion.

I said I was opposed to a National Government as it would amount to horse-trading and postpone the day when matters of the Nigerian polity must be settled. I said I would have preferred an Interim Government which would ensure the liquidation of existing democratic structures i.e. dissolution of the legislatures and sacking of the Council Chairmen and Executives of States. This would have helped the cause of the prodemocracy movements as a massive mobilisation outfit would have been in place. No one would have an office to protect. The choice would then be between the interim government which would be unelected and therefore illegitimate and Chief Abiola whose election had been nullified. With massive pressure at home and abroad we would have a situation where Chief Abiola would inevitably be sworn in.

I accused the political class of greed and lacking in perceptive appreciation of issues at hand. I wondered why the two parties would not both accept the June 12 election results and plead with the government to swear in Chief Abiola. Four years in the life of a nation which is the mandate Abiola has, is not forever, I said.

I have no doubt in my mind that matters will come to a boil eventually. The SDP has said they are not going for any elections. Will they stick it out or cave in?

July 16, 1993: ‘DIRTY’ ARTHUR

The newspapers reported Abiola’s visit to Abuja, the second since the June 12 elections. The first meeting was said to have been secret. Abiola had been there with his wife and Kola, his eldest son. They had met IBB and his wife Maryam. No one disclosed what had been discussed. The second meeting took place two days ago. Abiola also attended a meeting of the party executives. As to the meeting with
Babangida, Abiola said it was fruitful. He did not go further. What it boils down to is that no one knows what the two friends discussed. In that state of ignorance, people are continuing to over-reach themselves in sustaining the impasse.

I was at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies yesterday. I had gone to see Prof. Ajomo and there at the landing of the Institute’s building was my teacher of the 70’s Prof. Ojo who is one of Nigeria’s foremost constitutional lawyers. “Why can’t you resolve this thing”, I said.

“Only a fool would start discussing law in an environment that is not for such”, said Prof. Ojo.

I wondered which environment would be suitable enough for law to be discussed and which so unstable as to shut up the courts and legal discourse even on the pages of newspapers. Prof Ojo said an environment that witnessed changes in law so fast to meet certain predetermined ends was not a safe one to discuss law. “Where would you start? Who would you be speaking to and what do you want to
achieve?”

I wondered if, as we now have what I have come to call commitment journalism, whether we should have a commitment to a perspective in interpreting law. This would be law of relevance, law that was meant to sustain a point of view. Is that not what advocacy is all about, a striving to put across all that it would take to make an acceptable point in favour of a client?

I later adverted my mind to commitment journalism and recalled the discussion (on the phone) I had with Mrs. Remi Oyo (of the IPS). We had been discussing how the Media in the South West (the old Western Region) had been cowed, even through threat of being burnt down, to support Chief Abiola. Chief Abiola may have no hand in it. But the fact that if you do not join the band wagon of blind support and exaggerated presentation of what is said, if in favour, your person is threatened or the medium stands the risk of being burnt down. The threat is real.

Because Arthur Nzeribe had been the man behind the “campaign for a better Nigeria”, his name has been dirt among pro-democracy bodies. Only recently a bank and an ice cream company have been publishing ads denying any association with Nzeribe. It had been alleged that they belong to him and people had thus started to boycott FAN ICE CREAM.

It is unfortunate but rumours are bound to feed on themselves in this time of strained nerves. Everyone is waiting and no one wants to be quoted out of context.

Back in the office from Prof. Ajomo’s, Pauline, a lawyer had an opportunity to tell me how she looks forward to joining a guerrilla army to drive Babangida out of power. She said a lot of unprintable things about a man I had come over the years to respect and admire. Pauline did like Babangida a great deal too when as minister I wrote letters to my countrymen and she was one of the young persons I “tested” them on before they were released.

Pauline is not alone. Many other friends of Mr. President are leaving one by one and those who are not leaving are witnessing a fast cooling off of the warmth they had for IBB. But IBB says he owes no one any
apology for his actions. The question is whether there is anything the President had seen that we who love him have not. I have resolved to do a letter to Mr. President and I do hope to drive home the point that from my strong position of a person not having all the facts, I believe that the verdict of June 12 should be respected because it was the culmination of all the experiments we have made over the years to resolve in a Nigerian way the political problems that have dogged the voting arena.

July 17, 1993: DEMONSTRATIONS: BABU

On Tonight at Nine on NTA tonight, I saw a young lady who is an SDP member of the House of Representatives. She was discussing the election and was talking about SDP mobilizing at the grass roots to take part in the elections.

Question: Is the unity of the SDP as a party cracking? Did the party not say on June 12 they stand? How strong is the group within the party which is said to be asking that elections be held? Are we being given false confidence here in Lagos as to the “national” support for Abiola?

B.A. Momoh called me from Kano early today. I asked how things were over there. He said nothing was happening. No demonstrations? He said what for.

July 19, 1993: TO THE COURTS

Two actions have focused the attention of Nigerians since last week. Abiola/Kingibe went to an Ikeja High Court for certain declarations. SDP States Attorneys-General took the Federal Government and NRC States Attorneys-General to the Supreme Court for certain other declarations. Today the Supreme Court matter started and at night (7.00 p.m. & 9.00 p.m.) it was announced that the Federal Government has promulgated a decree stopping any Court from questioning any action of Government in the regard to the annulled June 12 elections. Government !!! Prof. Ojo does have a point.

July 22, 1993: DRUMS OF WAR

The Supreme Court ruled today that it has no original jurisdiction to handle the suit filed by SDP Governors against their NRC counterparts. The Court also ruled that the 1979 Constitution is still in operation, that the 1989 Constitution comes on stream on August 27, 1993; and that the Federal Government can make law on any matter. Finally, that a Decree is supreme.

Now that the legal gate is closed, where do we go from here? I was in Port-Harcourt 21-22/7/93 and I was surprised how cool it was. The tension in Lagos does not seem to have infected Port-Harcourt.

A taxi driver who took us to the airport said he saw war 1966-70 and hopes those who are beating war drums now in Nigeria know what it is to be at war.

I personally believe that war drums are necessary if we are ready for war. But are we ready? Is it not correct to see what is happening as the equivalent of a coup against Abiola, a situation that could arise even if he had been sworn in, just as the coup against Balewa in 1966, Ironsi in 1966, Gowon in 1975, Murtala Muhammed in 1976, Shagari in 1983, and Buhari in 1985?

If Abiola becomes President, it may well be because the coup is not successful, just as Orkar’s coup and Vatsa’s coup against Babangida failed, and Dimka’s coup against Muhammed failed, though Murtala died as a result.

Could Abiola be better advised to bid his time or he should, as the threat goes, allow Obasanjo to swear him in on August 27 at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos! Where will the state house be and who will sustain him in power and which country would he be ruling? Is Abiola’s mandate not to rule the whole of Nigeria! Has he any right to, for whatever reason, be seen to be wanting to rule a part of Nigeria?

Are we ready for a break-up or for secession as the Oni of Ife threatened? With so many of the people who should give leadership travelling out of the country in the old Western region, with their wives and children and house-helps, who will lead the army of the masses?

Yes, the media war has been won! How ready are we for the other war? Of guns! How ready? If we are not ready, how ready are we to back-pedal before we take a suicidal step? He who runs and lives to fight another day is wiser than he who, not ready, puts his neck on the line to be chopped off by the sole controller of the axe. May wiser/counsel prevail in the circumstances.

Yes, I am urged to do a letter to Abiola, that would be the third since the fight to be President began. But how ready would he be to listen to the voice of reason? The trend is to join the bandwagon. How ready would he be to read an unemotional analysis of the situation as seen from outside? The environment is overcharged with the euphoria of “give us orders and we will march on Aso Rock.” With bare hands?

July 26, 1993: OBASANJO’S TRAINING CAMP’

I have been away at the Ota farm of General Olusegun Obasanjo to attend the 27th Farm House Dialogue (from 23-25/7/93) to which I had been invited. I checked in at the farm and was allocated Room 2.

The topic this time around was “The Military in Society.” This subject is supposed to have been dealt with to proffer solutions for the future, not necessarily to condemn the military on the basis of what had been going on since the June 12 elections were annulled.

It was a most fruitful experience for me, having to relate with men and women (there were two women) from different callings and parts of the country.

Cyprian Ekwensi was chairman. The contributions of Chief Olu Akinfosile, First Republic politician, and General Ndiomu, retired, were most illuminating. Also the interventions of Obasanjo who has such immense hold and grasp of the facts. His young resident team led by Ayo is one to watch. I called Ayo ABU. He said he did not attend ABU but Lagos. I said ABU stands for Army Brought Up!

Most illuminating were the heart-to-heart discussions we had – Obadanjo, Ndiomu, Akinfosile and Ekwensi and myself. It would seem there had been a lot of rumours.

Obasanjo said he had heard that he had sent away his workers and turned his farm into a training camp to go to Abuja to fight the President. He wondered how he would be so stupid.

I told him many Nigerians believed he was going to get back into uniform, and this was being credited to him, and swear in Abiola at Tafawa Balewa Square on August 27. There are British and American ships waiting and they would move in to give Abiola the support he needs. Obasanjo roared with laughter. How could he, a retired officer, get back into uniform and swear in Abiola? He is not, nor is the head of state, the one who swears in the President. That is the role of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

But the truth is that there has been a lot of tension. Southerners are moving from the North. Easterners in Lagos are moving their families home. Everyone is stocking food because it is expected there would be an explosion.

The NEC has met the parties (the SDP attending the meeting only at the third call, having boycotted it on two previous occasions). But the SDP has made it clear they are not taking part in any elections. The NRC wants an election and is ready for it. But at this rate, how does anyone conduct an election on August 14?

No candidates have been selected and NEC has done no clearance. It would obviously be impossible to hold an election before August 27. What happens then?

If Abiola cannot be accepted, then the military would have to work out a programme, but what type of programme?

The whole country (or is it only the Western part) is at a standstill. When will the economic life at Government level start again?

Today, editors and other operatives of the media (NUJ and BON) are invited to Abuja for a meeting. Last week, the Concord papers, Punch and Sketch were sealed up. Even the Ogun State Broadcasting station was sealed up and was re-opened, allegedly, on the undertaking of Governor Segun Osoba to watch what goes on at the station. I was even told that the Observer in Benin had also been sealed up.

As is obvious, things are degenerating and if we are not careful, we would end up shooting at ourselves and then all the political gains (by way of blocks in the country being broken up) would be lost.

Last night, I had a most worrying dream. The weather in the firmament turned fearfully sour and the sky showed lots of fleeting manifestations. I recall trying to draw Ferdinand Orbih;s attention to the various manifestations as they formed.

Dreams are spiritual experiences but they must be dreams, not hallucinations. I would not know if I was hallucinating. If I was, who wouldn’t in the circumstance?

July 27, 19993: IBE AND GODWIN

Chief Ibe is from the Eastern part of Nigeria. So also is Godwin, the Nigeria Airways driver assigned to me. Yesterday, Godwin told me he would like to take his family home on Monday this week.

The reason is that his people had asked him to bring his family home. Besides, everyone at their residence at Gowon Village had sent their families home.

Chief Ibe this morning asked what I thought he should do. Should he send his family home? My answer was that he should do what strikes him. As for me, I would not send my family anywhere.

I tried to look at the matter philosophically and wondered what would have been resolved if those taking their families home were involved in an accident.

The worry of Chief Ibe and Godwin is only reflective of what every one is going through at the moment because of the political impasse. Would these problems be resolved? Would there be war? Etcetera. Time will tell.

July 28, 1993: RUMOURS, RUMOURS

My wife Jane has just returned from Britain (time is 8.10 a.m) where she went to attend the wedding of Hon. Justice Momoh’s daughter. Jane and Sef (Col. Momoh’s wife) almost simultaneously informed me when I said I would be going to Abuja this afternoon, that Arthur Nzeribe was in London and was pounced on to be killed by Nigerians but was rescued by security men. I asked whether they saw Arthur as they sounded so authoritative and they said that was what they heard, but that they had no reason to believe it was false.

I do not myself have any reason to believe it was false but the story bespeaks of the amount of story-telling going on now as happens everywhere there is this much tension.

Nigerians have a duty to resolve the problem they created themselves. The President did say on Television last night when he received some ambassadors that a solution to the impasse was in sight. He also reiterated his promise to have sworn in on August 27, a democratically elected President. It would seem that if a President democratically elected is to be sworn in on August 27, then it may well be Abiola. For how possible is it to carry out any elections between now and August 27? The August 14 planned election is impossible because NEC and parties have not even resolved a thing.

A meeting planned for yesterday has been rescheduled for today. And it is most unlikely that the meeting would be accepting to hold elections on August 14.

As has been said, time will unfold what it has in it’s bowels for us, we having chosen this most ignominous path of self-delusion.

August 1, 1993: ANOTHER VIEW

I returned from Abuja Tuesday. I did not go there because of the problems of the country, but because of the problems of Nigeria Airways. But there was no way I would be in Abuja and not reach out to discuss the problems of the country.

Dr. Patrick Dele Cole was the first major actor I saw when we disembarked at Abuja. He was on his way to Lagos. I asked him what they were doing as elders of the SDP.

On many occasions, Dr. Cole has reported as one of the elders of the SDP, either meeting to resolve the party problems or meeting with the NRC for resolving the country’s problems.

He told me he does not believe that my friend (meaning IBB) was ready to go. He asked what my programme was like and I told him. He gave me his cellular telephone numbers (he was carrying two of them) and asked that I should call him later. I did call him and I said it was not likely I would be in Lagos the next day as I had thought. He said he himself would be coming to Abuja and could we speak then. I did not get to speaking with Dr. Cole as I had been otherwise engaged in meeting some of the party leaders to be sure they saw what I myself thought had happened. I had the privilege of meeting and discussing with Saleh Jambo who was an NRC Presidential aspirant and Chief Tony Anenih, Chairman of the SDP.

Jambo represents the confident “Northern” front who, in my view, would have been part of the explosion in the North if Abiola had been declared winner. His analysis is ruthless but understandable. He believes there were widespread abuses, in spite of what the world was made to believe. He said what happened after June 12 was the only thing that would have kept the country together. If the election has not been cancelled, the country would have been on fire.

He even went on to discuss the experience of those who stood election before Abiola and who had been disqualified and took the disqualification in good faith. He wondered why Chief Moshood Abiola would not take what had happened in good faith.

He asserts that Chief Abiola was instrumental to the seizure of power from Shagari in 1983. He said Abiola had even boasted that he helped the Military return to power. If he was part of the toppling of Shehu Shagari, an elected civilian President, why should he be upset at being toppled himself? This, he said with an imperious air of satisfaction, is called “Natural Justice”.

Jambo it was from whom I read the agreement of the two parties that election on August 14 and indeed before August 27 was not feasible. The two parties again floated the idea of Interim National Government that would take over from the military on August 27. My encounter with Jambo was at the office of Prince Oladele Olashore, Secretary of Finance. It seems Jambo and Olashore are very close. When I met him (Jambo) at the office of Chief Kuye at the Presidency, he had been arguing heatedly with the Nigeria Airways Team of MD Joji, Company Secretary Idakula and Area Manager Abuja, Lar. I heard him saying that the present Transitional Council would have to go in the new arrangement but since they (meaning himself and others) can vouch for people like Olashore, Olashore would remain. “We don’t want those who will stick a knife in your back when you are not looking”, he said.

It would seem then that the government was thinking of an interim type government to take over on August 27. Jambo and I were to discuss this further at the waiting room of Olashore. He believed IBB must be forced to remain, to prosecute the election and effect necessary changes. If he allowed another military man to take over, such surrogate would derail the programme and normalize his own stay.

I told Jambo that IBB has to go. Even if he was indispensable, he should tell Nigerians that he is going. The fact is that many Nigerians blame IBB, rightly in my view, as he is the leader, for everything that happens. And so much is wrong now that only his going will lessen tension. It is one thing to be in power, sustained by guns, it is quite another thing for the people you lead to radiate love in following you and confidence in doing your bidding. The military has outstayed its usefulness, I said. But you cannot rule the military out of our lives or wish them away, Jambo said. I agreed but said the country just has to move on and I believe that even if IBB is indispensable as I had said, the country does not merit him.

Dr. Joseph Wayas was another person I met at the Presidency. I asked him what was wrong in the two parties coming together and asking that Abiola should be installed.

He said that was not on. He said those who negotiate for the SDP go out to say what was never discussed or agreed. He specifically mentioned the report of Alhaji Lateef Jakande that his understanding of the acceptance of an Interim Government was that it would be led by Chief Abiola. Wayas said “We discuss one thing and they go out and say another.”

I met Tony Anenih after I had called Albert Legogie, Deputy Senate President, who informed me of where Tony was.

I took off and went to see him and tabled the matter of the Nigerian problem. I told him that my understanding of what had happened is that there has been a coup d’etat.

In the military today, only the Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani are represented in all cadres. The representation of the old Bendel and old Benue Plateau States was decimated after the failure of the Orkar coup in April 1990 and the crash of the C – 130 aircraft.

The people in charge now are by and large Brigadiers-General. They hold the different formations. They are the ones who said they did not want Abiola or Tofa. If IBB Insisted that Abiola and Tofa should contest the election after their nomination and was successful in getting them to contest, is it not logical to believe that the annulment of the results was a coup against IBB. Abiola and Tofa? If it is so, is IBB for once a pun on the chessboard of political intrigue being acted out by the military? Even if IBB was the brain behind all that was happening, is it not reasonable to accept that there has been a coup against Chief Abiola even before he assumed office as President of Nigeria?

If we accept there has been a coup d’etat, the SDP as a party should assess its chances of success or the chances of making it fail. If the coup cannot be aborted, what next? This is the issue that must be addressed, I told Anenih.

August 11, 1993: INTERIM OPTION

Interim What?
The parties have again opted for an Interim Government and Admiral August Aikhomu was appointed Chairman of a Committee of Government and party representatives to fashion out the shape of an Interim Government. The Committee has submitted its report. Yesterday at Abuja the Governors met and they were given an update of what’s been on.

A summary of the Government position now, even as Abiola continues to unrelentingly assert that he would not forgo the mandate of the people, the clear verdict of June 12, is that June 12 is gone and gone forever. The election has been cancelled and this decision is irrevocable.

The Interim Government option then, in my view, is the worst of the best scenarios and the best of the worst scenarios. I should explain. As the worst of the best scenarios, there are the options that June 12 sticks and Abiola is sworn in. This is the best scenario. If Abiola is not allowed to form the government of the SDP but concessions have to be made, then another scenario is that Abiola is asked to form a government comprising both parties. He can even be asked to head a government of all parties, political and otherwise.

Another scenario is that in which the interim Government option features. Being interim, it can only be charged with a specific function to be done within a specified time frame. This is the worst of the best scenarios.

But it is the best of the worst scenarios where the break-up of the country is envisaged. Must the country be allowed to break-up under any circumstances! Are we aware that no Briton or American would come in here to ensure that, say Abiola, is sworn in? They would come only to preside over the dismemberment of Nigeria, when we have exhausted ourselves fighting a civil war. But is what we have on our hands an occasion for a civil war? If the choice is between breaking up the country and having an Interim Government to address issues that are basic to justice and fair play and national duty, then it is the best of the worst scenarios.

But what shape will it take? There is no need to speculate. Chukwumerije announced last night after the meeting with the Governors that the Interim Government would be announced next week. That will help draw sharper lines or lead to other consequences we may not now be in a position to fathom. We must always remember, though that we are as much the architects of our own fortunes as of our own MISFORTUNES.

The only genuine prayers then should be to thank the Most High for the harvest that comes from our sowing.

August 20, 1993: ‘KILLING UCHE’

Alhaji Alade Odunewu, Chairman of the Nigerian Press Council, and I are going to Abuja this morning. The time now is 5.45 a.m. We should be taking the 7 o’clock Lagos – Abuja flight of Nigeria Airways.

We are going to see Uche, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije, Secretary for Information. Uche is easily the most visible member of the Transitional Council. He has taken or has had to take frontally the Abiola Organisation by which I mean the whole massive apparatus of Abiola’s Presidential effort. These include men and media, and the International Community that believes that the election of June 12 was free and that the results have to be declared and Abiola who is believed to have won, sworn in on August 27.

Uche is now being accused of beating the war drums, where no war is threatened, and of mobilising all the government media, after successfully incarcerating the Oduduwa Press or the Lagos – Ibadan Axis Press.

Uche is also accused of visiting the states of the country to explain why the government cancelled the election but had marginalised the Oduduwa States. He is accused of blatantly lieing about the correct situation in Lagos after the July 5/6 demonstrations gone-sour; about plans to blow up pipe-lines and bomb Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna; about starting a guerilla war; about massive importation of arms and ammunition; about closure of selected Media houses, and subsequent proscription. Et ce tera.

But Uche, others believe, only fought back for Government, using as much banter and invectives of the western media as any serious person who has a similar role would play. The closure of the Concord, Punch, Sketch and Observer groups was in exercise of powers of government to ensure that no blatant seditious and treasonable matter is allowed.

How could you call Abiola President-elect when results of elections had not been declared, they say. Even if results had been declared, you cannot call him President-elect until Tofa had conceded defeat or. If the election was challenged, all due processes had been exhausted and Abiola had been declared winner.

But Alhaji Odunewu and I are not going to see Uche in Abuja because of all the foregoing, but because of the role which the Press Council should not only be playing but should be seen to be playing.

Chief Segun Osoba, Executive Governor of Ogun State, has since August 5, 1993 written formally to the Press Council asking that the Council investigate the insinuation by Uche that he was responsible for writing some Editorials for the Sketch. Uche had been giving reasons why the Sketch, among other papers, was closed down by the Federal Government in July.

Segun had written to Uche on July 25 asking him to substantiate the allegation or apologise to him. He has sent a copy of the letter to Uche to the Press Council. Then on August 5, he had written to the Press Council formally protesting the “unsubstantiated allegation on the authorship of Sketch Editorial”.

The Council did send a communication to Uche to respond and up to now, he has not. That is one reason Alhaji Odunewu and I are going to Abuja. If Government believes in the Press Council, then the complaint against Uche does not have to go unanswered.

The second reason I am personally going to Abuja is to protest the promulgation of a decree that would force every newspaper to be published to pay a non-returnable deposit of N1000,000 and then a pre-registration fee of N250,000. A newspaper registration board is being inaugurated tomorrow (21/8/93) and any existing newspaper that does not meet the demands on the new law within the next three weeks will have to be shut down.

This law is the most constraining piece of legislation in the history of law-making in regard to the Press since 1903. In an interview granted to the Guardian, I did wonder how a regime that flowed into power by the annulment of the notorious Decree 4 of 1984, would be leaving behind it a worse heritage.

I am going to Abuja to yell.

August 21, 1993: WILL IBB GO?

I did go to Abuja, with Alhaji Alade Odunewu. We drove straight from the Airport to the Fort Obasanjo abode of Uche Chukwumerije, Secretary of Information.

Uche was surprised to see us but happy. We were there for some two hours. We discussed the Press Council letter to which we discovered he had already reacted. He also came out openly to say his side of the story of the Media war he is said to have waged.

He was upset, he said, by the blatant falsehood that had been published and the concentrated attacks on persons. He said he thought the newspaper registration law was a good law but agreed that it would in retrospect serve no useful purpose if its area of enforcement would be eventually reduced to Abuja. I did make the point emphatically that the law was a thoroughly bad law and that I would attack it. What do I suggest he should do! I said he should meet the President and postpone the inauguration of the newspaper board.

We also discussed the proscription of some newspapers and magazines and he confessed he was surprised that there was that law. He had not been consulted. We said he should work for repeat of the law. I had decided I would issue a statement condemning the law. I would be acting in my capacity as Chairman of the Rights and Privileges Committee of the Press Council.

After meeting Uche, I wondered whether it was not better to document my opposition and send the paper to government than making a loud issue that would only be ignored. I have not yet finalised what to do.

But at the Airport at Abuja this morning, I met many people including Peter Enahoro, Chairman of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. He was himself very unsettled about the newspaper registration law and said we ought to meet as veterans and discuss the matter. I promised to reach him on the phone.

In the Aircraft, I met a young man, quite brilliant, who works in the Presidency. We discussed Babangida throughout, and in a very intimate way. I expressed my anger at the law to register the newspapers and certain other decisions that were taken recently, including the cancellation of the June 12 elections.

He informed me of the immense pressure to cancel the primaries in Jos but that the President insisted that the election be conducted. He said the interim Government was supported by all the political actors, and many other well-meaning people besides. He confirmed what I head earlier in the gravevine that Shonekan was heavily tipped to head the government. Mathew Mbu had also been considered. There was no doubt that IBB would be leaving for Minna although lots of pressures were on to make him stay.

On the situation in the Army, he believes that Babangida has done so much for them – construction of barracks and general welfare – that they would rise and sink with him.

My impression is that August 27 will come and go, like any other day and that the tension built ever since the annulment of the elections will lessen. I believe. Babangida will not only step aside as President, he may leave the Army. If he does not, I believe he will be seen as the issue for resolution and tensions will mount the more.

As for Abiola, it seems the coup d’etat against him has succeeded. I believe that the West has been successfully isolated and that they may end up being in opposition, or more correctly, not being in government, as has happened since independence.

The Light knows better. May we be rightly guided. Amen.

Friday August 27: SO IBB LEFT

The long awaited day is here. Is today going to be a day of destiny for Abiola? Is he going to be sworn in as President in a submarine so that thereafter, Lagos would be bombarded and he would emerge on the scene as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with British and American troops sustaining him? Or is today going to be like any other day?

Yesterday at Abuja, President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida formally quit the political scene having been President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for eight years. He also quit the army and is leaving for Minna, capital of Niger, his home state, today. The service chiefs are also quitting.

Also yesterday, Chief Ernest Shonekan was sworn in as the head of the Interim National Government. Members of the Federal Executive Council were also announced and will be sworn in today.

Since Wednesday August 25, Lagos area has been witnessing a slowdown of activities as a result of the stay-at-home order from the campaigners for democracy. It is effective in Lagos and I understand in the Western States but it is not noticeable anywhere else.

Today or tomorrow begins a new phase in the history of Nigeria’s march on the road to democracy. But in the circumstances we find ourselves in, can we “reach” democracy without marching? And what brand of democracy?

The exit of Babangida confirms my assertion to friends since last year when August 27 was named as the day the military will also disengage that he would go.

Those who have agreed that he did leave have been quick to say that he was forced out. If that was what happened, then let those who forced him out glow in their victory. All I know is that IBB is, like he said of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as being for 40 years the issue in Nigerian politics, the issue; and he has been since he took over rulership of Nigeria in 1985. Time will tell if IBB made or marred Nigeria. Time shall tell.

August 28, 1993: IF JUNE 12 HAD STAYED !

August 27 has come and gone. Someone asked me some time ago what I believe would happen on August 27. I said I was sure the world would not end on August 27. Today is August 28 and it is therefore correct that the world did not end on August 27. I also said that IBB would go to Minna. Well, he went to Minna yesterday, retiring from Government and the Military, after 31 years of active service.

I drove to Ikoyi and Victoria Island and then Surulere yesterday. It rained a good deal. Everywhere was quiet. Traffic was sparse. I called at the Victoria Island annexe and met a friend who is a self-employed professional. He expressed his agony at what was happening and I shared his mood. The truth is that Nigeria will never be the same again. We are at a phase in which we should confront anyone with perception of what is right. Gone should be the days when people were intimidated to keep quiet and accommodate indiscretions in the name of Gods.

God willed Creation into being, through the WILL, and endowed man in Creation with the ability to will, to take decisions, for which man would bear full responsibility. There could therefore be no way God would have willed that Nigerians would be devilled by corruption, by military interventions in Government and by denial of rights to people who are entitled. We must seek God’s Will only in the operation of His Creation that is anchored in Law. There is the law of sowing and reaping which is the same as the law of reciprocal action.

If we had not annulled the election of June 12, for instance, we would perhaps have been hosting foreign heads of state in Nigeria on August 27, instead of the mourning that Lagos have experienced during the days of boycott.

Another phase begins today, August 28. The story begun on June 24 therefore ends and another chapter begins elsewhere.

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