Twenty-three years after the military administration of President Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12,1993 presidential elections, emerging revelations have shown that the action was partly based on the government’s possession of some damning secret dossiers on Chief MKO Abiola, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) long before the elections.
Unknown to Nigerians, Abiola, a business mogul and close ally of successive military regimes, had ran out of favour with his military friends after security reports indicated that the contracts he handled for the regime was grossly inflated.
On the other hand, security reports in the hands of the then military government showed that Tofa emerged the candidate of the NRC in a fraudulent manner.
These were some of the startling revelations contained in “My Life and Nigerian Politics,”the autobiography of Chief Tony Anenih, which was launched at the weekend.
In the book, Anenih, who was the National Chairman of the SDP, the party on whose platform Abiola contested the illfated election, said that Babangida, who took Nigeria through its longest political transition programme, neither wanted to hand over to his bosom friend and acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Abiola nor Tofa.
Both candidates, according to Anenih, were mere pawns on the chessboard of power as the erstwhile military ruler and his colleagues in arms were unprepared to quit the political stage and had laid landmines on the path of the two candidates.
In spite of Abiola’s popularity, security reports available to the Babangida administration at that time favoured Tofa as the likely winner of the poll, hence the military high command was shocked that Abiola got the majority votes cast at the historic election.
Either way, that election was doomed ab initio as the military had some secret dossiers on whoever emerged as the presidentelect and was going to knock each of them off in order to remain in power.
Anenih said that following the annulment of the election and the outrage it generated across the country, IBB summoned a meeting of the leadership of the two political parties where he told them to go back and prepare for fresh election with fresh candidates as the military will not accept Abiola or Tofa as their Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“I, therefore, asked him for the reasons for this objection to Abiola and Tofa. At this point, he asked Gen. Aliu Mohammed, later to be National Security Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, to take me to his office after the meeting to show me the dossiers on these two presidential candidates.
“The reports I was shown indicated that the contracts under the ITT, which Chief Abiola executed for the federal government, were grossly inflated. That was the security report on Chief MKO Abiola. On Tofa, it was a different and more dismal story. He 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 had earlier indicated.”
Anenih said that having set the machinery ready to disqualify Tofa after his presumed victory, the military was caught in its own web when they found that their plans did not fit into the new equation of an Abiola victory.
He said that while the NRC was prepared to play along with the military on holding fresh elections, the SDP insisted on the actualisation of the June 12 mandate, but later had to concede to have an Interim National Government (ING) with the intention of easing the military out of power and getting the ING to hand over power to Abiola in line with the popular mandate of the people.