How MKO Abiola handpicked ministers for Abacha’s cabinet

Olisa Agbakoba also said that Abiola believed that Abacha was going to hand over power to him.

Abacha came into power after ousting the interim government led by Ernest Shonekan in 1993.

Shonekan was appointed by former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida who bowed to pressure by stepping aside, following the annulment of the 1993 elections.

According to Agbakoba, Babangida planned with Abacha to seize power from Shonekan and hand over to him after sometime.

“…the plan was to return power to Babangida. That was why Babangida stepped aside; he had planned to reclaim it from Abacha. They had planned it, but Abacha played him because when he became the head of state, he retired all of Babangida’s boys. He reshuffled the military too and strengthened his own hands,” he added.

The lawyer said that Abiola believed that Abacha was going to hand over power to him.

According to Punch, Agbakoba said “Here is where we differed from Abiola; we told him it was a trap because there was no way Abacha would give him power. He didn’t listen to us; rather, he listened to greedy politicians – people like Ebenezer Babatope and co.

“They packed the cabinet for Abacha because Abacha had told Abiola to bring him some cabinet ministers, so, many of the ministers were nominated by Abiola. I don’t understand why he didn’t see this as a trap.”

Speaking further on why Abacha did not stick to the agreement he had with Babangida, the lawyer had this to say: “The simple reason is that the military didn’t want to leave power because they were enjoying the pecks of the office and the money involved; it was too sweet. That is all. You can see what is happening in North Korea. But of course, if Nigerians had been silent, Babangida would have remained in power perpetually.

“If you look at some African countries, some of their leaders have been there for 40 to 50 years. It is only when people rise against it that you can stop tyranny. Babangida was interested in looking for a way to stay in power but he was also forced to deal with the human rights and pro-democracy communities.

“If you look at the transition train, he would create like 16 parties and in another few months, he would ban all of them. The power was too sweet. That was why they kept finding ways to keep shifting the transition to civil democratic rule until they started to confuse themselves.

“The place became completely riotous and the civil and human rights community had also created a lot of tension and by August 26, 1993, Babangida was forced to step aside. He banned the late Olusola Saraki; it got to a point where he got confused quite frankly. But eventually, there was enough pressure from inside and outside to push him out and if you watch his broadcast, you would realise that he was not ready to leave.

“That was why he used the words- stepping aside. It is like stepping aside for the time being, to give it to Abacha and allow things to cool down before coming back. So his plan with Abacha was to pretend to give to Shonekan and then Abacha would seize power again and pretend to return it to Abiola.”

Agbakoba, who said Abiola was too ambitious, also narrated how late Kudirat Abiolafought with the wife of the former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida in Aso Rock.

The former NBA chairman also referred to Baba Gana Kingibe, MKO Abiola’s running mate during the June 12, 1993 elections, as a traitor.

Agbakoba said that Kingibe did not believe in the June 12 struggle.

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