June 12 presidential election was annulled to prevent coup – Babangida
Former Nigeria military head of state Ibrahim Babangida said he annulled the June 12, 1993, presidential election to prevent a coup in the country.
The June 12 1993 election is widely regarded as Nigeria’s fairest election with Moshood Kashimawo Olalekan (MKO) Abiola in the lead to become president before it was annulled by Babangida.
Decades after the election, Babangida, in an interview on Arise TV on Friday said that some top officials in the military would have staged a violent coup if he did not annul the election.
“If it materialised, there would’ve been a coup d’état which could have been violent. That’s all I can confirm,” Babangida said.
“It didn’t happen thanks to the engineering and the ‘Maradonic’ way we handled you guys in the society with a tinge of disdain. But that could’ve given room for more instability in the country.”
The annulled presidential election had two Muslim candidates – Bashir Tofa (National Republican Convention) from the North and Mr Abiola (of the Social Democratic Party) from the South.
The election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of the country was later annulled by Babangida.
A national protest followed the annulment and forced Babangida to step aside and handed power over to Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993, as the head of an Interim National Government.
Weeks after, late military dictator General Sani Abacha stagged a coup that usurped the interim government to return Nigeria to military rule.
The Nigerian government in 2018 announced that June 12 would be celebrated in the country as Democracy Day – a national holiday. The day was hitherto marked on May 29. Nigeria’s first elected in about three decades was sworn in on May 29, 1999.
Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 election, and his running mate were conferred with Nigeria’s highest and second-highest honours – Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, and Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON, respectively.
“June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement on June 6, 2018.
“The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.
“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal government has decided that henceforth, June 12th will be celebrated as Democracy Day.”