June 12 presidential election anniversary – Part 4
A friend of mine, Senator Mahmud Waziri had shown interest in contesting the Presidential election under the platform of SDP.
He then pleaded with me to help him in his Presidential bid.
A friend needed my help and I could not refuse. I knew the nomination would be won by Major General Musa Yar’Adua (rtd) or Chief Samuel Oluyemisi Falae (79).
I knew Senator Waziri in terms of finance could not match either Major General Yar’Adua or Chief Falae. Chief Falae had the backing of a lot of bankers, civil servants and numerous friends, including another friend of mine Chief Julius Olawale Adewunmi, the Chief Executive of ABACHUS Merchant Bank while Major General Yar’Adua had the backing of men like Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih (87) from Uromi in Edo State and Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Akanji Adedibu (1927-2008), the strongman of Ibadan politics.
Senator Waziri appointed me as the deputy director general of his campaign organisation while the Director General was Professor Ben Obumselu (1930-2017), a gifted man from Oba in Anambra State.
My experience at that time taught me the complexities of the Nigerian politics.
More difficult and complex than what we read about.
Nigeria is an interesting country and our tragedy is that we know what is right and we never do what is right.
On July 30, 1992, Professor Humphrey Nwosu’s NEC cleared all politicians who scaled through SDP and NRC screening exercise.
On August 1, 1992, the first round of staggered Presidential primaries were held in five states-Katsina, Borno, Kwara, Abia and Delta states.
And on August 7, 1992, Presidential primaries were suspended and a new time-table announced. The nation was divided into 3 zones of 10 states each and the elections were due for September 5, 19 and 26.
On September 23, 1992, the 10 SDP Presidential aspirants met in Lagos in the guest house of Senator Mahmud Waziri at Roman Gardens, 10th floor, Loius Solomon close, Victoria Island, Lagos.
I was the Secretary at that meeting. And those who attended were Chief Olu Falae, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Chief Arthur Nzeribe, Alhaji Datti Ahmed, Senator Mahmud Waziri, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Dr. Olusola Saraki, Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, Dr. Layi Balogun and Professor Jerry Gana.
The decision taken at that meeting was that they would withdraw from the Presidential primaries due for September 26.
The allegation was that the SDP leadership under Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe was bent on imposing Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua on the party.
They also demanded for the dissolution of the executive of the SDP under Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe.
I then transmitted the decisions taken by the aspirants to the SDP headquarters in Abuja and copies were sent to General Babangida at the villa in Abuja.
On September 31, 1992, another meeting was held at Roman Gardens in Lagos. This time it was attended by all the aspirants of both NRC and the SDP. I was also the secretary of the meeting.
It was at the meeting that Major General Yar’Adua informed the meeting that he had heard from the grapevine that General Babangida was planning to ban all of them and had decided to hand over government to Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
The news was like a bombshell to all those present.
Chief James Ajibola Idowu Ige (1930-2001), who later the Minster of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, captured the mood of what happened during that time, in an article he wrote on August 23 1998 in The Sunday Tribune when he declared “Seven Years ago, I publicly declared that I would siddon look.
It was my reaction to what I perceived to be a fraudulent transition programme unfolded by our then military President, General Babangida.
Actually, my decision not to take part in his transition programme was reached immediately after I listened to his forty something minutes’ broadcast in which he announced that none of the thirteen political associates which had applied for registration was good enough.
And he announced his creation of the Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention (NRC).
I felt affronted on two grounds. First, it was obvious that his speech had been drafted months earlier, very likely before he asked Nigerians to run round forming political associations, with funny requirements made by the Electoral Commission.
I was very active in organising the People’s Solidarity Party (SDP) and we had gone to great lengths collecting membership lists and registers from ward level, collecting information about party officers, etc., and in the end delivering lorry loads of documents to the National Electoral Commission.
At the end of the exercise, PSP had the highest overall score. Babangida who has never taken part in organising political associations, not to talk of parties, had the temerity to speak about inadequacies of the political associations!
The second affront in my view was that Babangida took over a job that properly belonged to the National Electoral Commission.
As far as I was concerned, Babangida, by and in that broadcast, was telling us without any dissimulation that he controlled the National Electoral Commission and ultimately would decide the electoral process.
As soon as he finished that broadcast, I determined not to be part of his charade.
I was surprised that quite a few of my colleagues did not see or read the handwriting on the wall.
When some of them were scrambling for positions as presidential candidates, I was amused, and told those of them who were my friends that they were falling for a dummy.
After a lot of money, energy and time had been spent by twenty three presidential aspirants, Babangida declared ALL of them unfit! The rest is history.”
Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, stays in Lagos.
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