The Former Military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, has explained that he was compelled to nullify the June 12, 1993 Polls, because of security threats to the enthronement of a democratic government at the time.
He pointed out that the Armed Forces Ruling Council, AFRC, he headed then, knew that MKO Abiola, if installed as President, would be toppled through a military coup, which his government did not want .
IBB, stated this on Sunday evening, in his hilltop mansion in Minna, Niger State, through his trusted aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Former Army General, amidst the rumour of his death, has just come back from Germany, after a surgical operation.
Recall, that Babangida had annulled the June 12, 1993 election, when MKO Abiola was already coasting home to victory, on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party, SDP.
Speaking on the issue, IBB said his regime decided that it would be the last that would ascend the seat of power through coup, adding that, it would make no sense to install a democratic government that would be truncated within another six months.
He admitted that the polls was the best ever conducted in Nigeria’s history, saying: “June 12 was accepted by Nigerians as the best of elections in Nigeria. It was free and fair. But unfortunately, we cancelled that election.
“I used the word unfortunately, for the first time. We were in government at the time and we knew the possible consequences of handing over to a democratic government .
“We did well that we wanted ours to be the last military coup. To be honest, the situation was not ripe to hand over at the time.
“The issue of security of the nation was a threat and we would have considered ourselves to have failed, if six months after handover, there was another coup. I went through a coup and I survived it. We knew that there would be another coup, but not many people believed what we said”.
He added: “They could have allowed me to go away and then they (coup plotters ), would regroup and stage another coup”.
According to records, though the result of the election was inconclusive before it was annulled, everyone knew that Abiola won.
Initial figures released by the then National Electoral Commission, NEC, showed that he was already coasting to victory, before the military junta directed it to stop further announcement of results, from the remaining few states.
This prompted Abiola’s insistence that he won the polls, although the claim was a subject of debate for years, until Professor Humphrey Nwosu, who then headed the electoral body, set the record straight 15 years later (June 12 , 2008 ), when he affirmed that the Ogun-State born business mogul, won the election.
Nwosu, in his book Laying the Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12 , 1993 Presidential Election and its Annulment, stated that, out of the 14, 396, 917 votes cast in the election, Abiola, who was the candidate of the defunct SDP, polled 8, 223, 305 votes, while his opponent, Bashir Tofa, of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC, had 6, 073, 612 votes.
The book further explained, that Tofa had one-third of the votes in 23 states, out of the then 30 states in the country and Abuja, while Abiola had one-third of the votes in 28 states, thereby satisfying the constitutional requirement to be declared winner.