Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), has provided insights into why he annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Late business mogul and philanthropist, Chief MKO Abiola, was presumed to have won the election on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
But days into the election result collation by the electoral commission headed Prof. Humprey Nwosu, Gen Babangida inexplicably annulled the election, which was considered by most Nigerians as the freest and fairest poll in the country’s history.
The election was contested between Chief Abiola and Alh. Bashir Tofa of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC).
It was widely believed that the candidate of the SDP was leading when Babangida annulled the election.
The former dictator continues to receive criticism for that decision.
He, however, shed light on what led to the sudden annulment of the election.
Babangida, while speaking on AriseNews TV on Friday, revealed that if he had not annulled the election, a coup d’etat would have occurred.
“If it materialised, there would’ve been a coup d’etat — which could have been violent. That’s all I can confirm.
“It didn’t happen, thanks to the engineering and the ‘maradonic’ way we handled you guys in the society. But that could’ve given room for more instability in the country,” Babangida revealed.
He said the pressure at the time was from both within the military and outside the military.
“Both. The military can do it because they have the weapons to do it, and others (civil society groups) can use agitation,” Babangida said.
Speaking on how he acquired the nicknames of “evil genius” and “Maradona”, the former head of state said the sobriquets were manufactured by the media because of his “deft political moves”.
“That’s the very good thing about the Nigerian media and Nigerian people, you have to anticipate them. If you anticipate them, then you live well with them. They call me ‘evil genius’, I marvel at that. The contradiction — you can’t be evil and then a genius.
“The definition of Maradona I got from the media is because of deft political moves. That’s the way the media described it,” he said.
Why MKO Abiola’s June 12 Victory Was Annulled – Obasanjo(Opens in a new browser tab)