Former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election has tendered a private apology to the family of late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the presumed winner of the election.
Abiola’s daughter, Tundun who disclosed this in an interview with Channels Television said Babangida privately apologised to the family for his role in the controversial incident which eventually led to Abiola’s death.
Tundun said in the interview that Babangida admitted that he annulled the election because his life was threatened by certain people in the military who didn’t want Abiola to become president.
Tundun was speaking in reaction to the declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 conferred a post-humous award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on the Abiola and also announced that June 12 will replace May 29 as the nation’s official Democracy Day because it is a more symbolic date.
After Abiola refused to give up his mandate, he was imprisoned in 1994 where he died in custody under suspicious circumstances on July 7, 1998, four years after his arrest.
She said: “Regarding IBB, he has actually apologised to the family. IBB has said in public, but stopped short of apologising in public, that his life was threatened. He was afraid for his life.
“He was told by certain factors that, ‘Abiola must never become commander-in-chief of this country. we will kill him and we will kill you’. so, he was afraid; he has actually admitted to that publicly.
“He did not want to die, so he annulled the election. It does display the way the military perceived those they were ruling over. The entire country was in support of this man (MKO Abiola), but the military were like ‘We will not allow MKO.’ Who are you to say you’ll not allow when millions of Nigerians have spoken?”
When asked why she thinks Babangida had not publicly apologised for his role in the annulment, Tundun said he must be finding it hard to humble himself.
“Ego. It’s difficult to humble yourself. A whole IBB, the evil genius, Maradona, to be sort of remorseful. Even for him to publicly admit fear with all of that legend around his person must have been difficult for him to do. He regrets it,” she said.
She further Babangida to tell the Nigerian public exactly what led to the infamous annulment decades ago without fear of jeopardising his reputation.
“I would really urge him to just make himself vulnerable and just be honest. A mistake was made and we can never rewind time.
“There are three aspects to this: the annulment, the incarceration of my father and his murder. Babangida is responsible for the annulment but not his incarceration and not his murder.
“I feel like Babangida needs to publicly express himself fully and tell the story fully. What has been done cannot be undone but it would also unburden him, I believe.
“I would hope that Babangida would one day just express fully, but ego is such a difficult thing to surmount. I hope that he can just beat his ego and just express this to the Nigerian public. We need to hear it,” she said.
On the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 as president, Tundun said the former president was appointed by the then military regime to compensate the people of the South-West region for the death of Abiola.
“Obasanjo was appointed the president, he was not elected president. We did not have any election in 1999, we had a coronation,” she said.
She criticised Obasanjo for failing to recognise her late father for his contributions to the nation’s development.
“When you know you were not elected, you know you were selected and just appointed president by the military, it is galling for him to have acknowledged a democratic process.”
“President Obasanjo and my father had a relationship then; so what happened in their lifetime continued even after my father was dead. He cannot bear the idea of Moshood Abiola – so he did not do it,” she said.
With Pulse and Channels TV reports