The Abortion of the Third Republic by the Military in Nigeria

Cite this article: Albert, A. O., Foluso, F. M. and Baitei, F. (2022). “The Abortion of the Third Republic by the Military in Nigeria”. Sokoto Journal of History Vol. 11. Pp. 144-154.


The military has made considerable efforts in punctuating nation building and sustainable democracy in Nigeria. This has undoubtedly increased security challenges in the country and has attracted both national and international reactions as they relate to transition especially from military to civilian rule. These challenges have resulted in the loss of lives and properties, fear, insecurity, distrust and economic dislocations. They have also resulted in large streams of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. Protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria including life and properties of the citizens as one of the vital roles of the military has generated a lot of issues in the country in recent times. This paper examines the abortion of the Third Republic by the military in Nigeria in 1993. In examining this, the paper focuses on the historical ascendancy of military in African body politics with special reference to Nigeria, the roles of the military as an institution, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida‟s Military administration and the formation of political parties, the emergence of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). Finally, the paper concludes with the abortion of the Third Republic in June 12th 1993 and the political rumpus that bedeviled the Nigerian states during the time. Primary and secondary sources were used in the collection, collation and interpretation of data.

Keywords: Military rule, Democracy, Administration, Nigeria

DOI: 10.36349/sokotojh.2022.v11i01.003


Awofisayo Oladipupo Albert

Department of History, 

Lagos State University of Education, 

Otto- Ijanikin, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Phone: +2348033813930 



Fakayode Michael Foluso

Department of History, 

Lagos State University of Education,

Otto-Ijanikin, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Phone: +2348037151088  


Fukpene Baitei
Lagos State University International School,  
Lagos State,   Nigeria.
Phone: +2348039275312
E-mail: historicbaitei@gmail.com

The military has made considerable efforts in punctuating nation building and sustainable democracy in Nigeria. This has undoubtedly increased security challenges in the country and has attracted both national and international reactions as they relate to transition especially from military to civilian rule. These challenges have resulted in the loss of lives and properties, fear, insecurity, distrust and economic dislocations. They have also resulted in large streams of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. Protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria including life and properties of the citizens as one of the vital roles of the military has generated a lot of issues in the country in recent times. This paper examines the abortion of the Third Republic by the military in Nigeria in 1993. In examining this, the paper focuses on the historical ascendancy of military in African body politics with special reference to Nigeria, the roles of the military as an institution, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida‟s Military administration and the formation of political parties, the emergence of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). Finally, the paper concludes with the abortion of the Third Republic in June 12th 1993 and the political rumpus that bedeviled the Nigerian states during the time. Primary and secondary sources were used in the collection, collation and interpretation of data.


The military under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida made frantic efforts to change governance and political institutions in Nigeria by transforming his own status from the Head of State to President. He also created two political parties namely, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC), but in the process he destroyed the political structure he started. This was because he was too diplomatic in the process. This diplomatic tactics of the military manifested itself in the annulment of the June 12 1993 election which consequently made the making of the Third Republic a still born (Adu and Ibiyemi, 2006).

The Evolution and the Roles of Military in Nigerian Politics Up to 1979

The military of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is composed of the Army who are trained to fight on land, Navy that are trained to fight on Water and the Air Force that are trained to fight in the air. Hence, the military refers essentially to the combination of the Army, the Navy and Air Force. Military Organizations are structured for the co-ordination of activities meant to ensure victory on the battlefield. In modern times, these structures have increasingly taken the form of permanent establishments maintained in peace-time for the professional military. Accordingly, the military professional is an officer who pursues a lifetime occupational career of service in the Army, Navy or Air force. To qualify as a professional in the military, such an officer must acquire the expertise necessary to help manage permanent military establishment during the periods of peace and to take part in the direction of military operations if war should break out. In this era where might is fast replacing right, it becomes indispensable for any country, developed or developing to have a body of military that would cope with the security challenges and the well-being of her people. (Fatai, 2014)

Historically, the Nigerian army was formed in 1863 by Captain John Glover initially with eighteen

(18) stalwart men allegedly trying to escape from slave dealers. These people were believed to be from the northern part of Nigeria. This was later increased to six hundred (600) by October 1863. As the country was then under British Imperial authority, Nigeria had no direct control of this unit and so, by 1865, the British imperial government gave it official recognition and thus, it was to be named Hausa Constabulary that was available only in Lagos Colony; and its functions then was not clearly defined because it combined army and police functions. By 1895, it was divided into two forces; the Army  and Police Forces. What was  then known as Hausa Constabulary was  later changed to Lagos Constabulary (Adu and Ibiyemi, 2006). Significantly, the Lagos Constabulary was restricted to the maintenance of law and order. By virtue of her power over Nigeria, Britain also created other armed forces; and by 1886 the Royal Niger Company Constabulary was established to protect British trading interest. Between 1891 and 1892, Ralph Moor who was appointed a High Commissioner after the merging of Oil Rivers (Niger Coast) Protectorate and part of the Niger territories South of Idah to become Protectorate of Southern Nigeria raised the Oil Rivers Irregulars. The Oil Rivers Irregulars was later called Niger Coast Constabulary with headquarters at Calabar (Ojiako, 1981).

The Royal Niger Company Constabulary as earlier pointed out was to protect British imperial interests, but this Constabulary was highly emasculated to face the French competition in Niger area. This necessitated the creation of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) by Lord Lugard in 1889which subsequently took over the command of the area by the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) and later transformed it into Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) in 1901. Further metamorphosis saw the emergence of the Nigerian regiment within the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) and in 1955 this regiment was separated from the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) and constituted into a separate command in 1956. The Nigerian Regiment was re- christened the Queen‘s Own Nigerian Regiment (QONR)that became the Nigerian Army in 1963 after Nigeria attained republican status. By an Act of Parliament, the Royal Nigerian Navy was established in 1963 and later the word Royal‘ was expunged leaving the name as Nigerian Navy. However, the third wing completed the three forces when the Air Force Act 1964 established the Nigerian Air Force (Fatai, 2014). Theroles of the military in any nation are enormous, sensitive and crucial to the development of that nation. According to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) chapter IV part III, the roles of the military are as follows;

i.                    Defending Nigeria from external aggression;

ii.                  Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air;

iii.                Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and

iv.                Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999)

The advent of Military in Nigerian politics

The history of military involvement in Nigerian politics is not peculiar to Nigeria alone as most African countries have at one time or the other experienced military intervention in their politics. The advent of military in African politics all started in 1952 when late Col. Abdel Nasser of Egypt overthrew King Farouk. In West Africa, the first military intervention in politics occurred in Togo on January 13, 1963 when the then Togolese president Sylvanus Olympio was killed by a group of the country‘s army officers (Oyeweso, 1990). In Nigeria, the first military intervention took place in January 15, 1966. Since then the military have been a factor in the economic and socio-political history of Nigeria except for the brief period of 1979 to 1983 and 1999 to date. Of the country‘s sixty three (63) years of nationhood since independence, the military has ruled for thirty (30) years.

In Nigeria like in other Third World Countries, the military would usually give a catalogue of reasons for imposing itself on the country. Fundamentally, none of these reasons appears to stand the test of time because they are laden with goal displacement. What, for instance, can be said of a regime that claims to be a corrective one but within the short space of time after its assumption of political power, became highly riddled with corrupt practices. Throughout the First Republic however, Nigeria was caught up with the problem of nation building. The situation of Nigeria during the first coup d‟état shows that, by the time the coup took place, the country was really on the brink of collapse. However, as it turned out the coup failed to stamp out those vices. In fact, the officer who masterminded the January 15, 1966 coup d‟état had accused the civilian government of allowing the ship of the nation to drift too long because of ethnicity, regionalism and other vices. Ironsi in his frantic attempt to unite the country found solace in the unification Decree No. 34 of 1966 (Madiebo, 1980) which changed the country from its former federal structure to the unitary system. Nevertheless, this resulted into violent reactions because it was seen as a disintegrative measure, but what else did the Nigerians want? Actually, at that trying period for the country, it needed the welding together of diverse elements of the nation, but it appeared as though Nigerians did not want to be governed along unitary line. However, an uneasy political atmosphere pervaded the country after the establishment of military rule headed by Major-General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi. The new regime received the good will of many Nigerians, but unfortunately, the good will became short-lived when Aguiyi Ironsi made some incalculable errors. One of the mistakes he made was that he appointed mainly Igbo tribal loyalist as advisers; and this made the coup to be perceived as an Igbo organized coup. Matters became complicated because of the refusal of Major-General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi to try and punish the leaders of the ill-fated coup. Trailing behind the inaction of Aguiyi-Ironsi over the trial of the coup plotters and the lopsided promotion of 19 Igbo out of 21varmy officers in the country created more tension in the country (Awofisayo, Odu and Fukpene, 2018); and consequently sectional favoritism increased and this brew so much and many people lost confidence in the government.

Indeed, the way and manner General Ironsi carried out his administration reflected that he was out to plant a particular tribe in power. The situation became rather worse with the unification Decree No. 34 of 1966 earlier pointed out. The Decree abolished the regions and united the public services under a single Public Service Commission. The northerners viewed this act as an attempt to bring the northern region under southern control and Igbo domination. Discontent and anti-government demonstrations and riots broke out in many cities of the North on 26th May, 1966. The demonstration was against the unification Decree. To placate the people who lost their relatives in the riots, General Ironsi decided to go on tour of the regions. The climax of the tour was to address traditional leaders at Ibadan on 28 July, 1966. A second coup d‟état took place on 29th July, 1966 and Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Adekunle Fajuyi, the Military Governor of the Western region were abducted and later killed. It was a counter coup that brought Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon into power after a prolonged, but usual consultation within the ruling military caucus (Okege, 1993). The demise of Major General Ironsi marked the birth of military leadership tussle for political control in Nigeria. However, in fairness to late Major- General Aguisi-Ironsi he never arrogated professional superiority to himself. He was militarily and politically handicapped by lack of basic education. His attaining the height of his profession was based on compromise rather than excellence. Therefore he should not be crucified as a traitor for relying on his kinsmen for advice and guidance (Aworawo, 2003).

Gowon‘s period could be described as the most difficult era in nation-building. The new military Government was marked by leadership crisis when Lt. Col. Gowon announced himself as the Head of the Government, an act that attracted criticism especially from the governor of the Eastern Region, Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu. This and other problematic domestic issues culminated in the Civil War that lasted for about three years, 1967-1970 (Akpan, 1971). The military administration under Gowon preserved the unity of the Country. The Gowon regime managed the Civil War and declared a ‗No-Victor-No-Vanquished‘ verdict at the end of what Gowon called ‗\Thirty Months of Sacrifice and National Agony.‟ (Awofisayo, Odu and Fukpene, 2018). His government pursued a full integration of the Igbo into social, economic and political life of Nigeria through the principle of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (RRR). Another attempt of the Gowon administration towards national unity was the introduction of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which is a key instrument of nation-building. It was to correct biases hitherto harboured by people from one ethnic group against other ethnic groups. However, Gowon‘s regime was terminated by the coup of 1975 which brought in General Murtala Mohammed. After assuming office, the ephemeral administration of General Murtala Mohammed was seen to be action packed (Adu and Ibitoye, 2006).

Upon assumption as Head of State, Major General Murtala Mohammed announced a new transition programme that was to lead to the transfer of power to the civilians in October 1979. His military government also created seven (7) additional states on 3rd February, 1976. He equally announced the creation of a new Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at Abuja. On the foreign scene, Nigeria for the first time was noted to have articulated a genuinely non-aligned position on major foreign policy issue. Indeed, Murtala was noted to be popular leader in Nigeria, both in the home front and abroad. This also meant that he equally must have stepped on the toes of those who were benefiting from the decadence and corrupt system entrenched in the system before his emergence. Thus, in a military coup on 14th February, 1976, General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated in an abortive coup led by Lt. Col. Bukar Sukar Dimka. On the heels of the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, Brigadier (Later General) Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as the new Head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the federation. A point to note at this point is that the Obasanjo Administration adhered to and implemented all the programmes that were put in place by late General Murtala. He also handed over power to the elected civilian administration on 1st October, 1979 (Alonge, 2005).

The June 12, 1993 Saga and its political rumpus on Nigerian States

In the annals of Nigeria‘s political history, if there was any scenario that generated so much interest and tension was the annulment of June 1993 Presidential election. Before the election, speculations were riffed that the military government headed by former president Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was nursing a hidden agenda through which he hoped to elongate his stay at the expense of the much awaited democratic Third Republic. Prior to this time, there were in existence myriad of Human Rights/Democratic Groups operating in the capacity of political pressure groups such as Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Constitutional Right Projects (CRP), Democratic Heritage (DH), NADECO just to mention a few. All these Human Rights/Democratic Groups mustered their resources together in the wake of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida‘s hide and sick game to disengage military from politics (Fatai, 2014).

However, it became obvious to the generality of the people that General Babangida was not willing to disengage but instead using clandestine interest groups such as the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) headed by a multi-millionaire, Chief Arthur Nzeribe, a politician and a one-time Senator in the ill-fated Second Republic. Ostensibly use by Babangida, Nzeribe called for extension of the transition programme to allow military stay for more years. Babangida found an easy tool to use after the latter had failed in his presidential bid having lost in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries. Though Nigerians saw Nzeribe as a shrewd politician and one who was set to destroy what he was not able to get, the obvious fact was that Babangida intended to abort the Third Republic, and he needed those who could cleverly do that and he found out Chief Arthur Nzeribe, the „evil genius‟ (Olawale, 1999) as he was popularly referred to. It was Babangida who wanted the transition programme extended and he had attempted it through the shifting of dates which he used to test and try the patience and reactions of Nigerians (Adu and Ibiyemi, 2006). The June 12 presidential election had been monitored and uncharacteristically endorsed by pool-watchers from developed countries. Of the 3,000 observers accredited by the government to monitor the election, 135 came from foreign countries. The roll-call included United Kingdom, which sent in the highest number of observers (24), United States of America (8), France (5), Denmark (5), Canada (4),

Netherlands (2), India (4), Belgium (1), China (1), Jamaica (1), Ethiopia (1), International Organizations like the United Nations, the Group of Seven Industrial Nations or (G-7 Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States of America), also sent observers. The consensus among the international observers was that the election had been well conducted, free, fair and therefore credible. Even the normally feisty Nigerian media welcomed the conduct of the election as a significant and laudable departure from past patterns (Oluwasunmi and Bamidele, 2006).

These acknowledgments made the government‘s stoppage of the announcement of the election result ridiculous. To many Nigerians, it was as if the military government was consciously boxing itself into a corner. As it turned out, the results and the announcement of the winner were technically delayed. The chieftains of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) from all over the country met to discuss the fate of the party. The gathering discussed intensively and generously for what seemed endless hours before opinions finally crystallized around the view that there were only two options before the military government. It could either pull the brake on the election process entirely; or allow the results to be released and tell whoever felt aggrieved to go through the judicial process, such as challenging the result at an election tribunal. When these options were scrutinized, the consensus was that, the military would in all probability choose the second option. It was the belief among many Nigerians that the military regime would not want to plunge the country into an avoidable chaos. This suggests that Nigerians did not consider the inclination of the head of the regime, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida have nursed a desire to remain in power. Babangida‘s ambition to perpetuate himself was well known. As a matter of fact, it has been the cause of many ingenious tinkering with the transition to democracy programme, which his administration has taken eight years to see through. The presidential election was meant to be the very last stage of the transition programme (Olawale, 1999).

The last problem that greatly robbed the country and impaired Babangida‘s disengagement programme was the annulment of the presidential election results of 1993 for some excuses framed by his humble self and his cohorts. It was against this background that the annulment of the results of the June 12, 1993 election which was widely believed to have been won by Chief M.KO Abiola, on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) reinforced the people‘s fear that the military might want to perpetrate its stay in power. The result of the election came in from fourteen (14) states of the federation including Abuja and it was observed that Chief M.K.O Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won with majority votes even in state of his opponent–Late Alhaji Bashir Tofa of National Republican Convention (NRC). This was devoid of ethnic colouration of previous elections in Nigeria. The great expectation was however short-lived, when a particular association called  Association  for  Better  Nigeria  (ABN)‖  contrived  a  plan,  went  to  court  and  got  a  court injunction that the announcement of the election results be stopped. Some other counter orders from Lagos, Benin and Ibadan that the remaining results be released were ignored (Nzeribe, 1990).

Humphrey Nwosu, the National Chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC), suspended all actions on the June 12 election, and on 23rd June, 1993,the government of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida announced the annulment of all the elections and consequently disqualified the two presidential candidates on the basis that, hand-over to Chief M.K.O. Abiola who was assumed to have won the election would not be in the best interest of the military and the country. In his annulment speech, Babangida, he said;

There were allegations of irregularities and other acts of bad conduct leveled against the presidential candidates but NEC went ahead and cleared them. There were proofs as well as documented evidence of widespread use of money during the party primaries as well as the presidential election‖… (Nwosu, 2008).

Aworawo, (2003) was more emphatic when he described the action of General Ibrahim Badamisi Babangida this way;

The results of the election, which show clearly that Chief Abiola had won, were cancelled by Babangida on 23rd June, 1993. This was greeted by condemnation and riots which forced Babangida to step-aside on 26th August, 1993, when he handed over to an ―illegal Interim National Government (ING) headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. Thus, the Third Republic became stillborn.

Such a situation aborted the Third Republic, and undermined the supremacy of the 1979 Constitution. The reactions and crisis that followed were spontaneous. The people rose against the government; and refused an attempt to disallow democracy to flourish. There were strikes virtually everywhere in the country (Nwosu, 2008).

Pro-Democracy Groups Committee for Democracy and National Democratic Coalition called people to boycott work and movement and the people obeyed. There were no light, water, fuel and people openly demanded the removal of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as the Head of State and the termination of military rule in Nigeria. Arising from the persistent pressure from the Civil Society, Babangida offered to ‗step aside‘ as Head of state

It was along such development that Chief M.K.O. Abiola declared himself the President Elect, and for this he was arrested, detained and charged for treasonable felony and conspiracy. The detention earned Abiola international sympathy and deepened civil disorder. It won for Nigeria bad image within the International Community until the sudden death of General Sani Abacha on 8th June, 1998. Chief M.K.O Abiola too, later died in the custody of the military junta in a very mysterious circumstance on 7th July, 1998. As earlier stated, following the crises generated by the cancellation of the elections, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was forced to ‗step aside‘ on 26th August, 1993. However, before leaving office, General Babangida tried to safeguard the position of the military by constituting an Interim National Government (ING) Headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan and late General Sani Abacha, a supposed key player in the Babangida administration, was made the Deputy Head of the Interim National Government. Protests, riots and civil unrest continued throughout the Interim National Government (ING) Period. The government itself lacked credibility as it was declared illegal by a Lagos High Court presided over by Mrs. Dolapo Funlola Akinsanya on 10th November, 1993. The Interim National Government (ING) which was itself alien to the constitution could not secure the support of the citizen of the country. It was more or less a stalemate until General Sani Abacha intervened in a coup which brought down the whole transition programme.

Sani Abacha later sacked on 17th November, 1993 and took over the government. This again caused fresh riots and protests in the country which left many people locked behind bars and some dead. (Adele, 2001)

For some reasons, M.K.O. Abiola believed that Gen. Sanni Abacha, the new Head of State, will hand over power back to him and therefore persuaded many of his followers to support his administration. Abacha did not do what M.K.O. Abiola had expected him to do. In a speech titled

‗Enough is Enough‘, Abiola said,

As of now, from this moment, a new Government of National Unity is in power throughout the length and breadth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, led by me,

M.K.O. Abiola, as President and Commander-in-Chief. The National Assembly is hereby reconvened. All dismissed governors are reinstated. The State Assemblies are reconstituted, as are all local government councils. I urge them to adopt a bi- partisan approach to all the issues that come before them. At the national level, a bi-partisan approach will be our guiding principle. I call upon the usurper, General Sani Abacha, to announce his resignation forthwith, together with the rest of his illegal ruling council. We are prepared to enter into negotiations with them to work out the mechanics for a smooth transfer of power. I pledge that if they hand over quietly, they will be retired with all their entitlements, and their positions will be accorded all the respect due to them. For our objective is neither recrimination nor witch-hunting, but an enforcement of the will of the Nigerian people, as expressed in free elections conducted by the duly constituted authority of the time I hereby invoke the mandate bestowed upon me by my victory in the said election, to call on all members of the Armed Forces and the Police, the Civil and Public Services throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to obey only the Government of National Unity that is headed by me, your only elected President. My Government of National Unity is the only legitimate, constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as of now. Abiola proceeded, I cannot surrender (my mandate) unless the people so demand and it is by virtue of this mandate that I say that the decision of the Federal Military Government to cancel the results (of the elections) is unpatriotic and capable of causing undue and unnecessary confusion in the country (Nwosu, 2008).

This heroic action of Abiola led to his arrest and subsequent death on the 7th of July, 1998 at his residence, 5/7 Moshood Abiola Crescent, Ikeja, Lagos. Also, General Sani Abacha‘s iron handed regime came to an end on the 8th of June, 1998 due to his death which cause, till today, remain controversial. General. Abdulsalam Abubakar took over the government on 9th June,1998 and handed power over to the democratic government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th May, 1999 (Fatai, 2014).

National and International Reactions to the Annulments of June 12 Election Results

Several professionally oriented officers such as Lt. Col. Salihu Ibrahim, Major General Ishola Williams, Major General Chris Ali, Colonel. Abubakar, Col. Umar and others also opposed the annulment. Colonel Umar offered his resignation letter in protest against the annulment but Babangida refused to accept the resignation letter. Major General Ishola Williams was reported to have asked his colleague “when did it become the function of the army to sanction negatively the will of the Nigerian people?” (Olawale, 2002). Other officers also opposed the annulment but could not openly speak out for fear of being accused of disloyalty, which is a very serious offence in a military regime. When General Ibrahim annulled the electoral victory of Chief M.K.O Abiola, the Committee for Unity and Understanding (CUU) that gave full support to Chief M.K.O Abiola‘s election gave a swift reaction. However, CUU continued with its activities and spear-headed the demand for the de-annulment of the election while at the same time reaching out to other Organizations for the purpose of putting up a united front against the military government. General Akani Akinrinade made strenuous efforts to bring into CUU the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). Ken Saro-Wiwa (Famous author and Environmentalist who led the MOSOP) would not agree, arguing that, MOSOP‘s objectives were not political but environmental. Meanwhile the Committee for Unity and Understanding (CUU) found a ready ally in the Movement for National Reformation (MNR) led by Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Mokwugo Okoye, Dr. Olu Onagoruwa and top Afenifere Leaders (Fatai, 2014).

The possible impact of what the annulment meant had hardly begun to weigh in when other developments started to unfold. First, a general sense of insecurity began to envelope the country. Nigerians living or working elsewhere in the country started to move back to their states of origin. For understandable reasons, the movement towards the eastern part of the country was unprecedented. Even the normally well cocooned northern elite, resident in the Western part of the country, especially in Lagos, began sending their families back home to the north. Rumour of an impending military seizure of Lagos, of a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the Yoruba nation made the rounds. It was as if another civil war was imminent (Olawale 2002). In spite of all these immediate reactions, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and his clique that annulled the election spent the accompanying few days digging it. They needed strategies of containment, and one of these involved the supervision of the Federal Legislative Arm.-the Senate and the House of Representatives. A dirty trick task force, whose purpose was to destabilize the federal parliament, was set up under the office of the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The Task Force sprang into action immediately by appointing quislings in the House of Representatives, whose duty was to execute a ―Babangida Must Stay‖ agenda among the Federal legislators. That agenda was unfolded in August 1993, on Babangida‘s birthday, and the day he chose for addressing a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. After making the official position of the House of Representative known in his first press statement on the annulment, the House speaker, Aunwa Anaekwe maintained a health distance from Aso Rock. He was backed by the leadership structure of the House, which strongly felt that not only must the Parliament not be part of the annulment conspiracy, it must also henceforth assert its independence of the executive and be seen to be so independent. Apart from Anaekwe himself, the prominent players in the House leadership then included the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Rabiu Musa, the Majority Leader, Alhaji Sanni El-Katuzu, and the Chief Whip (Aworawo, 2003).

For many concerned citizens, two paramount but very sensitive issues needed to be resolved for the country to move forward. The first being the need to peacefully ease the military out of power by August 27th 1993 which was the terminal date for the aborted transition programme and the second was the need to actualize the June 12 mandate widely believed to have been given to Chief M.K.O., Abiola by the fourteen million(14) voters. (Omonijo, 2004). Meanwhile, another dimension to the problem which indeed split Nigerians into two was the issue of whether the military should stay to complete the transition programme after the annulment or be forced out of office through mass action by the people.

The unresolved political situation however gingered the formation of more radical pro-democracy groups and associations both within and outside the country. Among these were the Labour Militant and Youth Defense Committee (LMDC), Patriotic Movement of Nigerian Youths. (PMNY), Association of Nigerian Patriots (ANP), The Eastern Youths Forum (EYF) and the Washington Based Nigeria Democratic Awareness Committee (NDAC). The pro-establishment destabilization team in the House was becoming very strong. Its early recruits were mostly from the membership of the National Republican Convention (NRC). Having felt crushed by the loss of control of the legislature, and their impeding loss of the executive arm of government, the NRC seemed all too eager to play the spoiler. But more crucial, however, was that even on the floor of the House, the fear of the unknown was being quietly but effectively induced amongst members from the north. Gradually, some of these members were asking openly “why should they support a shift of power away from the north to the south? or who would be expected to protect their interest if Abiola became the new president?”. (Olawale, 1999). The shifting consciousness towards the ethnic self- interest was not peculiar to the NRC membership of the House as even some members of Abiola‘ Social Democratic Party (SDP), who hailed from the North, started shifting ground. Initially the shifting was innocuous, later it became offensive. Then it reached an almost warfare level when three SDP Governors from the north became virtual proponents of annulments, on no other basis than that Abiola was Yoruba, and a southerner. It was the destabilization team, armed with the on-going ethnic bigotry that confronted the leadership of the House, challenging it on the content of the speaker‘s press statement on the annulment. Their objective was to make the speaker issue a conciliatory statement. They lodged regular reports on the activities of the leadership of the House with top government officials in Aso Rock. But while they were well known, their antics were generally ignored (Omonijo, 2004).

On the international scene, there was a general disapproval of the annulment. But it was the words of the then British Foreign Secretary, Sir Douglas Hurd that made enormous impact on most Nigerians. Speaking on the BBC Network Africa, he said that Nigeria was not the sort of country where anyone would expect a democratic election to be annulled. On the part of the United States, Babangida regime annulment of the June 12 election was considered a rape of the democracy in Nigeria as perpetrated by the Nigerian Armed Forces. A dramatic twist, however, ensued in the Nigeria-United States relations in the international scene in 1993. After the June 12 1993, Nigerian presidential election was annulled, and in the light of human rights abuses and the failure to embark on a meaningful democratic transition, the United States imposed numerous sanctions on Nigeria. These sanctions included the imposition of Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to refuse entry into the United States of senior government officials and others who formulated, implemented, or benefited from policies impeding Nigeria‘s transition to democracy, suspension of all military assistance and a ban on the sale and repair of military goods and refinery services to Nigeria. The United Sates Ambassador was recalled for consultations for four (4) months after the execution of the Ogoni Nine (9) on November 1995. After a period of increasingly strained relations, the death of General Sani Abacha in June 1998 and his replacement by General Abdulsalam Abubabar opened a new phase of improved bilateral relations. It is however shameful and regrettable that, the June 12 Saga earned Nigeria a bad name in the international political system. The United Kingdom suspended all military assistance to Nigeria and also refuses to issue Visa to Nigerian military personnel. The European Union and most Non-African countries condemned the annulment (Olawale, 1999).


From the above, it is clear that the history of political administration of Nigeria is largely that of military. This is because of the sixty three (63) years of Nigerian nationhood since independence the military has been in the helm of affairs for three (3) decades. General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida started the journey towards the third republic which never saw the light of the day. However, his regime was accused of causing the biggest setback to nation-building in Nigeria for it midwifed the longest and most expensive transition programme in the history of the country. To cap it all, the greatest crisis that the regime had to contend with was the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections which consequently triggered off reactions from both within and outside the country.



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