The Senate chief whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, has said that the late former premier of the western region, Obafemi Awolowo, told him he refused to work with the Ibrahim Babangida’s military regime because he never trusted his government.
The Cable reports that the former governor of Abia state said he turned down an offer to lead a campaign seeking to keep Ibrahim Babangida as military head of state.
Kalu in his newly released autobiography – My Life, recalled how top officials of the Babangida regime had contacted him to lead the sit-tight campaign but he declined as he was “guided by national interest.”
Kalu said Awolowo had rejected the invitation of the political bureau set up by Babangida after they asked him to join in their search for recommendations regarding Nigeria’s political future.
He said he saw the sage’s refusal as a red flag and decided to visit him to find out why.
Senator Kalu wrote about his meeting with Awolowo:
“He told me he did not trust the military and that nothing in his crystal ball suggested that the military was sincere about bringing the country back to civil governance.
“I learnt from him that there existed two types of the military which he described as professional and mercenary military. He told me the military government was of the latter type (and) assured me that he had not seen anything in the IBB regime to assure him of their messianic mission.”
The online medium said that Babangida became military president in August 1985, following a coup that ousted the then head of state, Muhammadu Buhari.
He promised to hand over power to civilians in 1990 under his first transition to democracy programme before later changing the dates – first to 1992 and then 1993.
He then annulled the June 12, 1993, presidential election, further confirming fears that he wanted to sit tight in office.
Kalu according to TheCable, Kalu, who was a member of the house of representatives at the time, said he personally resisted every pressure to prolong that regime even against the decision of the National Republican Convention (NRC), his party at the time.
“I was extremely disgusted when the 16 state governors who were elected on the platform of our party paid a solidarity visit to IBB in Aso Rock and pledged their unflinching loyalty to the military leader.
“Indeed, legislators on both sides received ‘encouragement’ from both Abiola and the military government for support. Abiola’s battle to win the support of the National Assembly meant a lot of money for the legislators. The government also sent its lobbyists to work at the National Assembly with a huge financial arsenal.