Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) former Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih has told Nigerians that former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida from the onset never planned to hand over to anybody despite the now famous June 12 presidential election.
He said hidden calculated political gamble by Gen. Babangida on the presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Othman Tofa, to win the June 12, 1993 presidential election became his greatest undoing.
Mr. Anenih revealed the hatched plan by the former military ruler to truncate the transition to democratic governance at the time in his autobiography, My Life And Nigerian Politics. The book was unveiled in Abuja on Saturday
However, the victory by the business mogul and philanthropist, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, who contested on the platform of the rival Social Democratic Party (SDP), shattered Babangida’s evil plan and halted his dribbling on the political arena.
Anenih, who was national chairman of the defunct SDP, said Babangida banked on Tofa’s victory to give him cogent reasons to annul the poll, knowing that Tofa was not qualified to contest the election in the first place.
He stated that when Babangida’s plethora of excuses to annul the election failed to convince the leadership of the party, he then brought out a dismal “dossier” on Tofa.
On page 91 of his book, Anenih said, “He (Tofa) had used in his nomination form a woman’s membership card number. The photocopies of the Kano NRC membership register showing the woman’s form, name and other details were produced, meaning that at the time Tofa was nominated as NRC candidate, he did not have an NRC membership card.
“He was not an NRC member after all, but could be regarded as an independent candidate. He could easily have been disqualified by the government if he had won the election on the NRC platform as security reports earlier indicated.
“The discomfiture of the military arose from the fact that it was Chief Abiola, not Alhaji Tofa, who won the election.
“Having set the machinery ready to disqualify Tofa after his assumed victory by getting all the documents in readiness for that action, the military got caught in their web when they found that their plans did not fit into the new equation of an Abiola victory.
“All the clumsy steps taken by them at the tail end of the election stemmed from this fact.”
On Abiola, the former PDP BoT chair said the only accusation Babangida could raise for denying him the presidency was that all the contracts executed for the Federal Government by the ITT, in which Abiola had major interest, were “grossly inflated”.
Anenih narrated how Babangida mounted pressure on the leadership of the two political parties to agree to a fresh election, even when it was clear to all that a fresh presidential election was not feasible.
According to him, he he resisted the suggestion for fresh election but said the NRC, led by the late Dr. Hemmed Kusamotu, jumped at the offer, a sign that showed that the NRC was a lackey of the Babangida regime.
After he failed to get the parties to go for a fresh election, Babangida then suggested the formation of an Interim Government as an alternative, which Anenih said the NRC leadership again agreed to.
Anenih said while permutations were going on, Chief Ernest Shonekan, who Babangida eventually handed over to as head of the Interim Government, was in the background, attending meetings from the Babangida camp.
He said that he leadership of the two parties eventually met and agreed on the Interim Government things – as the only way to get the military out of power. However, SDP still insisted that forming the Interim Government should not in any way invalidate Abiola’s mandate, Anenih added.
“We had it in our plans that once the Interim Government was put in place, and the military was removed from office, we would start again with our demand for release of the June 12 election results.”
The PDP chieftain also revealed how Babangida mobilised military chiefs and top police officers under his government to resist a handover to Abiola.
Babangida’s reluctance to play by the rule became more glaring when he stopped attending meetings with leadership of the two parties and later sent his deputy, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, to meet with the politicians with a prepared speech at each meeting, Anenih wrote.
According to him, Aikhomu’s utterances and body language at the meetings, obviously showed Babangida government had made up its mind on the direction it was headed.
The politician from Uromi, Edo State, regretted the imposition of Interim Government and the subsequent overthrow of Shonekan by the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
“The Abacha regime sounded the final death knell on June 12 and the last nail on the coffin of June 12.”