Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo says the June 12, 1993, presidential election presumably won by MKO Abiola was annulled because of “bad belle”.
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), former military ruler, issued the proclamation that officially nullified the election adjudged to be one of the most credible poll Nigeria has ever had.
Abiola, the Social Democratic Party candidate, was leading Bashir Tofa, his National Republican Convention rival, by a wide margin but the exercise was stopped ahead of the final announcement of results.
The annulment of the election threw the country into chaos as protesters hit the streets, calling on Babangida to step down. Abiola was later arrested by the regime of Abacha and he died in detention.
Speaking on Sunday after his investiture as a trustee of the Abeokuta Club, a sociocultural organisation of Egba people of Ogun state, Obasanjo lamented the annulment, saying it was done out of “bad belle,” a pidgin word for jealousy.
Abiola was also awarded a posthumous vice-patron of the Club. Obasanjo said the cancellation of June 12 election results denied the people of Egbaland the privilege of having three of its sons occupy the seat of the president.
Seemingly referring to Ernest Shonekan, former head of Interim National Government(ING), himself who ruled as military head of state and later as civilian president, Obasanjo added that Abiola would have become the third if the 1993 election was not annulled.
“When Abeokuta Club was in the process of being birthed, things in Abeokuta were not as rosy as they are today,” Obasanjo said.
“And the sons of Abeokuta, who were in Lagos, put their heads together in late Chief Sobo Sowemimo’s residence to think of what they could do to improve the development of Abeokuta as a city.
“I pay tributes to all those founding members, those who have departed this world and those who are still here.
“I want to thank the club for this honour being bestowed on me and the honour being bestowed on my school mate, MKO Abiola, which he richly deserved.
“Kabiyesi, the Alake (of Egbaland) alluded to it. Normally, when you win a cup three times, you keep that cup. Isn’t it? If not for bad belle, Abeokuta would have produced President of Nigeria three times, in which case, we should have kept it permanently.
“But be that as it may, we have a great heritage. And we should be proud of our heritage. On this note, I will say on this occasion, I thank the President, the patron and grand patron, members of Board of Trustees, the executive.
“I want to say this, I will continue to contribute my quota to the development and growth of this club and by extension, the development and growth of Abeokuta, of Ogun State, of Nigeria, of African and indeed the of world in whichever way I could.”