By Emeka Ejere
Former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido, says the historical June 12 election was annulled because the military did not want to pay MKO Abiola’s N45bn debt.
Lamido who was speaking in an interview with Punch, said the military told him that the election was cancelled because if Abiola, presumed winner of the election, became president, he would have taken the money, causing the country to go bankrupt.
Lamido, who was then national secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said Abiola made the claim after the death of Murtala Muhammed, former head of state, but the military turned his request down.
“When (General) Murtala (Muhammed) died, Abiola came in with a claim that he was owed, I think, about N45bn for contracts executed by International Telephone and Telecommunication for the ministry of communications,” Lamido said.
“Murtala and Abiola were very, very close. One of the reasons they gave for annulling June 12 was that if they made him president, he will take his money and the country will run bankrupt.
“The military high command at that time said no. He went round the emirs in the north to lobby and the emirs asked that they (military) should please pay the money. They (military) said they cancelled the June 12 elections because if they made him president, he would take his money and the country will become bankrupt.
“Those who were close to Abacha should know this, because Abacha was then one of the big shots; they were all aware. There was this Bosnian war going on in Yugoslavia. I said sir, the Nigerian people are very innocent. This is like the case of a Bosnian woman raped by a Christian Serb who got pregnant. Yes, it is true that the pregnancy is a product of rape but this is also my flesh and blood, I cannot kill it. This (election) is my baby, my flesh and blood, I will not kill it. I said so.
“We went through a process and expenditure, the campaign, the Election Day and even the entire government machinery was involved in the election which we won and you are now coming with the excuse that you owed some money. That’s your problem. The baby is my baby. Yes, it is a product of rape but I can’t kill it. At that time, the Nigerian mood had been worked to go against June 12.
“After the annulment of June 12 (1993), I was called by the people who were then holding forth and I made it very clear that we were through with elections; we will only come back to it in 1996 because we ran an election, you cannot annul it and say we should go back and hold another one. They then told me the reason why they annulled June 12.”
Asked his position on the conferment of the GCFR and GCON honours on Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, Lamido said “It was a case of opportunism”.
He described the annulment of the election as “a pattern that had been established, a continuation of a tradition of disqualifying candidates to annulling conventions.”
Lamido, who is seeking to contest the 2019 presidential election, said he would withdraw the honour from Kingibe if elected president.
“I will go into the archive and bring out the genuine results and if Abiola is the winner, I will call INEC to announce the results and I will then go through the process and make sure we pay the N45bn he was owed because to me that was the main reason behind the annulment of June 12,” he said.
“After that, I will strip Kingibe of the honour. I will withdraw it, because there is nothing like honour there. He was the first to betray June 12. He was the vice president-elect, but he followed his kinsmen, Abacha to undermine June 12.
“When Abiola was picked up, did they pick Kingibe? He was not picked because he was willing to trade it off, and that was why he was made a minister. After withdrawing Kingibe’s title, we will then find a better way to honour Abiola properly because the title giving him posthumously is only given to someone that has been sworn in.”