Former head of state, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) has said there could have been a violent coup if the June 12 presidential election which M.K.O Abiola is adjudged to have won was not annulled.
The June 12, 1993, general election which was considered by most Nigerians as the freest and fairest poll in the country’s history, was contested between Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
Chief Abiola who was arrested by the regime of General Sani Abacha for declaring himself a winner of the election, later died in detention during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Speaking in an interview on Arise TV ahead of his 80th birthday, IBB explained what led to the sudden annulment of the general election.
“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.”
On if the pressure was from both within the military and outside the military, IBB said;
“Both. The military can do it because they have the weapons to do it, and others (civil society groups) can use agitation.”
Commenting on how he got 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.”