General Sani Abacha, who ruled the country from 1993 until his death in 1998, deceived politicians to get into power, according to General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, popularly known as IBB.
In an interview with Trust TV, IBB spoke on how Abacha outfoxed them and got into power.
Abacha, whom IBB described as his “very good friend”, also served as the Chief of Army Staff during the latter’s military regime from 1985 and was subsequently appointed the Minister of Defence under the same government in 1990.
IBB said, “Abacha’s government was very smart. They knew who were the most vociferous discussants about the election, about the coup, about June 12 and so on. They started talking to them and sold a dummy to them and encouraged them to get rid of the interim government; ‘when we get rid of the interim government, we will bring you back to come and take over your democracy so that a civilian government would be installed’.
“They sold that dummy to the public and to some prominent persons within the society, and when Abacha stepped in, there were drumming and sighs; ‘Good thing! Next thing is going to be a democratically-elected government’. I knew, we knew, that it wouldn’t be because the argument was: ‘Why should I risk my life only to come and hand over power to you?’ That was what happened.”
He also admitted that despite being close allies, Abacha’s military coup did not surprise him.
“I knew it will come as a surprise because even though I was outside – outside the service – I knew what was going on,” he explained.
Abacha had served as the Minister of Defence and the most senior military officer had come to power by ousting the interim national government formed by IBB and headed by Ernest Shonekan, by forcing the latter to resign.
In a widely circulated broadcast on November 17, 1993, Abacha announced to the nation that he had taken over from Shonekan as a result of sociopolitical uncertainties as the time.