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Why I Dumped M.K. O Abiola – Baba Gana Kingibe

On Monday, 8 July 2019, the annulled 12 June 1993 presidential election will, after the Democracy Day celebration, become a topic of discussion again.

This is because, Aremo Segun Osoba, former governor of Ogun State, who will be 80 this month, will mark his birthday with the public presentation of his autobiography, entitled “Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics” at Eko Hotel, Lagos. He is one of the heroes of June 12.

As this will go on, another individual who played a prominent role in the June 12 saga was Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, who was the Vice Presidential candidate to Chief MKO Abiola in the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

While people like Osoba stood firm with Abiola and even endured detention and other forms of indignity, Kingibe jumped ship and worked as a minister for the late dictator, General Sani Abacha.

In this interview, published in TheNEWS hard copy of 2 May 1994 (old copies available for sale), Kingibe explained himself. The interview is entitled:

“Why I Dumped Abiola”

Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, for three hours, spoke with TheNEWS team, Dapo Olorunyami, Seye Kehinde and Bagauda Kaltho

Your decision to take up a job offer under the Abacha regime came to many as a surprise. Why did you abandon the mandate and agree to serve a military regime?

Let us really understand that the mandate of 12 June was the mandate of the people of Nigeria. It was one entrusted to Chief Abiola and myself. But primarily it was the mandate of the people of Nigeria. When the elections were annulled, it was the mandate of the people of Nigeria that was annulled and the affront was not really on Abiola or Kingibe, it was against the people of Nigeria as a whole but the primary responsibility for resisting that assault was with the people. That is number one.

I am perfectly aware of the social, economic and cultural setting in which our people live and the stage of development that we reached in terms of protecting their rights under the circumstances. Our people struggled valiantly to resist but in vain. I think it is all easy now, nine months after the annulment, to speak out of context. When I decided to go into politics and to offer myself for elective office, it was out of a belief that I could somehow make a positive contribution to the lives of Nigerians. It was never my intention to make their lives worse than I found it and I think there is a limit to the dictum that it has to get worse before it gets better, there is a limit and that limit I think was reached by October.

Are you saying your acceptance to serve was a statement of discontentment

What I mean is that the people on whose behalf I was in politics and for whose betterment I campaigned were getting to the point where it wasn’t that the ailment was getting worse with a view to getting it better, but was getting worse and threatening to be terminal. I was in Lagos most of the time and I saw the general insecurity of citizens, suffering citizens, work stoppages, the stay- at- homes, the strikes. I saw the sacrifice that people were making and it got to a point where one could not give an adequate answer as to why they were making it and why they had to continue to make it because the political class, of which I was a part, failed to give the requisite leadership to make their sacrifice worthwhile. Aside from the people, the nation of which I looked forward to being the vice president was first being threatened with non-existence, disintegration. That is the truth. And if the situation had continued, the very gains of 12 June were also being fast reversed and eroded.

Read the rest of the interview by clicking: TheNEWS

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