Ibrahim Babangida And The Nigerian Presidency
By Chippla Vandu
Having seized power via a military coup in 1985, Ibrahim Babangida went on to rule Nigeria for eight years. During this period, his government kept putting off programmes that were meant to usher in an era of democratic civilian rule.
This was also a period of mass looting of the country's treasury by Babangida and his henchmen, giving rise to a clique of multi-millionaire army generals.
By 1989, when the storm became too turbulent, the dictator finally gave in and lifted the ban on politics. His government approved of (or rather, created) only two political parties—the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
These were modeled after the American system. Massive rigging resulted from presidential primaries which followed in mid 1992. The electoral commission swiftly proceeded to cancel the primaries.
A few months later, out from obscurity came a gentleman called Bashir Tofa, who won the NRC presidential ticket. The well known, affluent and hugely influential Moshood Abiola won the SDP ticket. The presidential election was held on the 12th of June 1993. The moment results started trickling in, and it became apparently clear that Abiola had all but clinched the presidency, General Babangida "annulled" the election.
Then began Nigeria's nightmarish political crisis, fondly described as an "impasse" by Babangida's state propaganda machine.
Ibrahim Babangida never did lead Nigeria to the Promised Land. He was pressured to leave office in August 1993 by national strikes and public disobediences. Before leaving office (or "stepping aside" as he put it), he handed power over to an interim national government led by Ernest Shonekan, a seasoned industrialist but an utter political novice.