NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 195

I then proceeded to deal with the questions of who were these “they” and for what reasons would they want to kill the President and the President-Elect if the June 12 election were allowed to go forward. He named them in military and in ethnic categories: Sani (meaning General Sani Abacha)9 is opposed to a return to civilian rule. Sani cannot stand the idea of Chief Abiola, a Yoruba, becoming his Commander-in-Chief at all; Sani seems to have the ears of the Northern leaders that no Southerner especially from the Southwest should become the President of this country. Sani seems to rally the Northern Elders to confront me on the matter. He is winning; the Sultan and the Northern leaders are of this frame of mind. Where do I go from here? They do not trust me. Without Sani, I will not be alive today; without the North, I would not have become an officer in the Nigerian Army and now the President of Nigeria. I don’t want to appear ungrateful to Sani; he may not be bright upstairs but he knows how to overthrow governments and overpower coup plotters. He saw to my coming to office in 1985 and to my protection in the many coups I faced in the past, especially the Orkar coup of 1990 where he saved me and my family including my infant daughter.” He went on, Sani, you know, risked his life to get me into office in 1983 and 1985; if he says that he does not want Chief Abiola, I will not force Chief Abiola on him. I just have to end the whole matter and go back to the place of my birth. That is the way I feel now. He also named Lt. General Dogonyaro10 and Brigadier General David Mark 11 who were too close to him and who would want the issue resolved within the shortest possible time. In fact, he quoted David Mark as saying: I’d shoot Chief Abiola the day nec pronounces him the elected President. I wish I can just call the “boys” and hand over to David Mark and pack my luggage and go to Minna. I thought this was strange; but that was how his mind was working as of that date and time (1:00 pm on June 21, 1993). ... I decided to probe further. I asked: “Is this all the ‘they?’ Are there still more?” To which he said, “Yes.” GEO-ETHNIC FACTOR The next set of people unhappy about June 12 was represented by the then Sultan of Sokoto who warned him not to undo the many years of Sardauna’s achievement for the North. The Sultan told him that the election of Chief MKO Abiola, whom he liked as a person and as a fellow Muslim, would enable the Yoruba to reverse the gains which the North had recorded since 1960.13 {13 This was a reference to the succession crisis of 1955-1960 and how it was resolved in favour of the North. For how the North took over from Britain in 1960, see the account of the man who presided over this phase. Sir James Robertson, Transition in Africa, (London, Hurst and Company, 1974.)} (164-167) L———————————————— BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE MILITARY FACTOR I then asked what he would want done in the circumstance and he said 193 It was clear that General Babangida was in a fix as of June 21, 1993 and was in a desperate search of how to escape the wrath of his “boys.” He had lost the battle over the crucial weekend between June 18 and 21st at Minna. I asked the President what he would want me to do in the face of the threat to his life and the life of the incoming President. He again volunteered another issue from out of the blue which I shall discuss later. The President was in fact at that stage thinking of the military successor when he said: