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A Toast to GLOBACOM Chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr.

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By Michael Effiong

It is just like yesterday when Nigerians awoke to the birth Globacom, the only indigenous telecommunications company and national carrier-and 19 years after, it has become one of the most recognisable brands not only in Nigeria but on the continent of Africa and beyond.

The monumental success of Globacom can be attributed to the vision of the company’s chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, GCON. Fondly called the Great Guru or most recently, the “Spirit Of Africa” as christened by our Publisher, Dele Momodu, Adenuga’s persona as a hard-working risk taker, towering symbol of enterprise, undisputed game changer and  someone with an unquenchable quest for excellence are all encapsulated in Globacom.

Globacom, like its Chairman, entered the market in a bullish and bold way. The per second billing that the foreign-owned operators had said was impossible was implemented on day one. And with that audacious step, Globacom democratized the telecommunications industry and has catapulted him to the position of Nigeria’s richest billionaire by far.

Though Forbes Rich List will tell you other wise, Adenuga, with his investments in oil & gas, telecommunications, financial services, construction, real estate and more has no rival. But he likes it the way it is at the moment because he will never give out his financial data or details. He likes to keep us all guessing, while he is smiling to the bank every second!

But who really is Mike Adenuga? Adenuga is one of the very few humans in the world that is in a world of his own. He is comparable to no one-an enigmatic personality who is a typical Taurean: Tough as nails, audacious, patient and very reliable.

It is because of his zodiac sign that some call him The Bull. He has the insignia of the bull almost everywhere around him. Indeed, a bull is part of his personal crest. This is easily recognisable on all personal correspondences and envelopes. When you arrive Globacom’s Corporate Headquarters in Nigeria aptly named: Mike Adenuga Towers, you are welcome by an intimidating bronze bull sculpture, just like the famous charging bull that stands proudly on the famous Wall Street in New York. That is not all, the Headquarters of one his companies, Conoil in Marina, Lagos is called The Bull Plaza and golden bull sculptures are used to accentuate his new home in Banana Island, Ikoyi in Lagos.

His bullish nature is not only by pictures or sculptures, he breathes it, lives it and exhibits it in real life. Just like an ill prepared matador gets ripped, Adenuga, The Bull, usually crushes those who underestimate him or take him for granted.

He is a stickler for perfection who has zero tolerance for sloppiness or indolence, that is why the minutest of details in his operations interest him. He is not one of those arm-chair businessmen, he is hands-on and that always strives for nothing but the best, and his never-give-up attitude is exemplary.

Perhaps a good indication of his penchant for turning one’s travail to triumph was the birth of Globacom. With Globacom, he showed that failure is not final but an avenue to show your inner strength and strong will. For him, impossible is non existent.

The American owner of Orlando Magic basket ball team said ” The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants in life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible”

This point was also reaffirmed by Orison Swett Marden, Author and Founder of Success Magazine, who said “Great men have found no royal road to their triumph. It is always the old route by way of industry and perseverance”.

 His initial setback in the telecoms industry was enough to break any ordinary businessman, but not Adenuga. In 2001, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) announced that the nation was ready to auction Global System Mobil (GSM) licences and called for bids.

At the end of the process, four companies, including Adenuga’s Communications Investment Limited (CIL) were declared winners. Everyone was to make a mandatory payment of $20million (Twenty million dollars) as commitment and then pay $265million as licence fee in 14 days.

While Adenuga was in the process of making payment, his technical team discovered a problem. They found that his allocated frequency was in dispute.  He was now in dilemma, should he pay such a huge amount on a venture that is a subject of litigation or withdraw? The lion-hearted Adenuga decided to effect payment with a condition as any smart businessman would do to protect himself. To his chagrin, government announced that CIL failed to meet the payment deadline and the licence was revoked.

Mike Jituboh, Globacom’s Executive Director, Special Duties who was part of the CIL team during the 3-day auction recalled the painful incident in an interview with Technology Times of Nigeria.

According to him “A day after winning one of the three GSM licences, a CIL team led by Adenuga  (an evidence of his penchant for being hands-on and in the thick of action) headed for Paris for negotiations with BNP Paribas. After several days of protracted negotiations, agreements were reached on terms and conditions for a loan facility for $265million for paying the balance for the GSM licence. The deadline for payment was 5pm of February 9th, on that fateful day, all was set for a transfer by SWIFT instruction then word came in from our colleagues in Lagos that the frequecncy allocated to CIL was the same as the one hitherto allocated to Motophone, owned by the Chagoury’s. The later was in court to challenge the frequency’s withdrawal.

“With its assigned frequency under litigation and the deadline of payment almost elapsing, we had to decide whether or not to pay the huge sum of $265million. With no time left to resolve this knotty issue with the government, we decided to make payment with the condition that the money should be released after the government gives CIL indemnity to cover the possibility of Motophone’s winning its suit and retaining the litigious frequency”

“Consequently, payment of $265million was made by BNP Paribas before the deadline directly to the JP Morgan, New York designated account along with the aforementioned condition.

“As most Nigerians will recall the government rejected the condition and cancelled the CIL licence. The government refused all entreaties and the funds were eventually returned to BNP Paribas” This first hand account puts paid to the rumours that made the rounds at the time that CIL licence was cancelled because Adenuga did not have the funds to pay.

His elder brother, Otunba Ademola Adenuga had this to say about that setback ” Mike lost $20million but he never lost hope. He never gave up hope, that is one thing about my brother, he is an eternal optimist. Something kept propelling him not to give up on the matter”

And like the dogged fighter that he is, Adenuga took that upper firmly on the chin, brushed it aside and waited for another opportunity. And that opportunity soon came in August 2002.

The government decided to embark on another auction of licences, and interestingly, this was a bigger pie as it was about to sell the Second National Operator (SNO). The licence entitles the winner to operate a GSM, fixed wireless and more. The price was even lower $200million. Omnitel Nigeria Limited, AFZI (Telecommunications ) Limited and CIL now rechristened Globacom met the deadline-and it was only Globacom after paying the initial $20 that was able to pay the remaining $180 million and that was how Globacom was born.

Through Globacom, Adenuga is propagating his philosophies of life to the African continent. Glo has taught us to “Glo with Prride”, It has encouraged us to “Rule The World”, it has helped us to believe that opportunities for success on “Are Unlimited” and has reinforced the spirit of dedication by urging us all to start “Driving To Future” success.

Apart from spreading these messages of hope, it is an indigenous brand that elicits pride in all Africans for its top notch service and consistent innovation. Its contribution to sports, entertainmet and culture has been massive. Glo is it! Little wonder that Adenuga so believes in his brand that he sometimes personally voices commercials!

Despite his humongous success, some people still habour the long-worn story that he is fronting for some people. Those who are close to the Chairman laugh derisively at these set of people.

Those close to him have since confirmed that Adenuga is not a fan of partnership. The business guru is a one man riot squad who likes to be the main man and not part of an orchestra because he has his own set of rules.

All the business ventures he has been involved in, he reports to no one except God Almighty.

Yes, he loves God. He strongly believes in the God factor in the affairs of men and that is why as true Catholic, he goes almost everywhere with his chaplet, sometimes he is silent in prayers. He also has his own chapel at his expansive home.

He knows full well though that prayer alone is not the key and that is reason he is a workaholic. He has very little interests outside his business.

He is the sort of billionaire who loves his work. Like Rupert Murdoch, another hard work-loving fanatic said, Adenuga also believes that “Working is not a means to an end, it’s the end”. He has his own terms and time of doing things.

And that is why he chooses those around him carefully, he is someone who cherishes loyalty to the max and pays loyal workers handsomely. The work can be back-breaking, including putting in you all at odd hours but the reward for working close or for the guru is usually handsome.

Talking of reward, he is one of Nigeria’s most open-hearted and silent philanthropists. He is extremely generous and gives without much fanfare. His philanthropy budget is indescribable and touches so many lives.  He never forgets people who have been good to him. His official donations are now channeled through the Mike Adenuga Foundation.

 

And maybe because of this innate propensity to give, he steers clear of many people, he is not one of those we see at every social event. He is very private and strict about his security which we gathered was due to an incident many years back. Even at his company’s functions, it is no longer news that Adenuga will be absent. He has his own set of rules.

This not mean he does not create time to relax, he usually catches his fun with inner circle of family and friends. There they banter and share fund moments. As a connoisseur of fine wine and exotic spirits, they savour these beverages, munch on hors d’oeuvre and gourmet meals. It at occasions  like these that his joie de vivre becomes obvious.

To his children though, he is their dear doting dad. He, like his late sweet mother, Chief (Mrs) Oyindamola Adenuga, who was his business mentor, is firm but fair.

He always tries to show them the right path and now he has within the family, a chip of the old block, in his daughter, Mrs Bella Disu, who is is breaking barriers in the business world not only as Executive Vice Chairman of Globacom but sits atop the board of top companies including as non Executive Director at Construction giants, Julius Berger.

Mrs Disu once told Ovation in an exclusive interview that her father is very caring but firm. According to her when they were younger he encouraged them to play the piano, the family used to have carols at home during Christmas. “It used to be fun and the best piano player got good gifts” she reminisced.

Then she added “He has always said that he would never stand in our way if we are follwing the right path. He dotes on us so much more that other regular fathers would

Without any shadow of doubt, through Globacom, he has firmly planted his feet on the sands of time, and the world is proud of this prodigious son of Africa. We are all proud of his accomplishments and that is why as Globacom clocks 19, we raise a toast to the Chairman of Chairmen, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr, GCON.

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Tinubu’s 50k Bazaar: Govt Weaponizing Poverty – Dele Momodu

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By Eric Elezuo

Following the announcement of the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government of Nigeria of its intention to distribute N50,000 to 3.7 million homes/persons across the country among other cash induced benefits to cushion the effects of the over one year hardship that erupted on the first day of the administration, most prominent Nigerians have risen to condemn the move.

Among the loudest of voices against of the voices is the celebrated journalist and former presidential aspirant, Aare Dele Momodu, who described the move as the latest bazaar of the Tinubu administration, adding that it is subject to weaponizing poverty among the already very poor and anguished Nigerians.

The Chairman of Ovation Media Group took to his Instagram handle to caution the government against throwing money at anything and everything, stressing that it’s never the way to go,  in an article he titled ‘Tinubu’s Latest Bazaar’. He took a swipe at successive administrations, tracing back to the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan of presidents, whose stock and trade has remain doling out money to to people as if it is confetti, without enabling environment of utilisation.

The revered community leader, who has been honoured with various titles across the Nigerian traditional and ethnic divide, analyzed the length 50,000 can go in the present economic dispensation, informing that the amount is just an equivalent of US$30, and cannot, on its own, buy a small quantity of tomatoes, rice, beans, garlic, elubo, yam, fish or any other stable food. He therefore, queried how the government expect the money to go a long way.

Proposing a way forward however, Momodu advised the government as matter of urgency to produce a million millionaire entrepreneurs with one trillion Naira, who in turn will churn out more entrepreneurs through employment and training, and so the circle will continue.

He further suggested that the measure can be achieved through a setting up of a non partisan committee, who will conduct a meticulous screening of presentations from applicants.

“Each applicant would be expected to employ minimum of 5 others in their chosen vocations. Another trillion can go into vocational trainings. Nigeria must focus aggressively on vocational revolution. Our youths are extremely gifted and hardworking. Throwing peanuts at them is only an extension of hopelessness. We can do much better,” the media entrepreneur said.

Below is Momodu’s detailed statement:

TINUBU’s LATEST BAZAAR…

For anyone who knows how to weaponize poverty, throwing money at anything and everything becomes an addiction. It is so disheartening seeing how government after government in Nigeria continues to spend money as if it is mere confetti. This is not the first time I’m complaining before the defenders of bad policies descend to accuse us of anti-Tinubu criticism. My position has been consistent since President Goodluck Jonathan started distributing telephones to farmers. Not that it was a totally bad idea, but knowing my country well enough, it was an invitation to free food. The logistics of it alone was dizzying. The originators had fantastic ideas but the executors were, majorly, artful Dodgers.

When PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI came, the principalities managed to convince him to spray cash in parts of the country, even if it will ultimately get to less than one percent of the populace. The BUHARI bazaar was so obscenely bizarre that Nigerians queued in public places to collect raw cash. I have never seen anything so demeaning…

It is now the turn of PRESIDENT TINUBU. Just in case he is not aware, let me break it down. N50k is approximately 30 USD today. A scanty basket of tomatoes the last time my wife checked in Ibadan was N140k. We are not talking of pepper, onions and vegetable oil yet. Oh, we are yet to add gaari, elubo, rice, beans, yam, semovita, meat, fish and sundries. In my view, distributing 50k in many homes will only create further frustrations, big in title but useless in the market place.

So, my humble suggestion is that we can produce a million millionaire entrepreneurs with one trillion Naira. A non partisan committee can achieve this through meticulous screening of presentations from applicants. Each applicant would be expected to employ minimum of 5 others in their chosen vocations… Another trillion can go into vocational trainings. Nigeria must focus aggressively on vocational revolution. Our youths are extremely gifted and hardworking. Throwing peanuts at them is only an extension of hopelessness. We can do much better…

It would be recalled that President Tinubu on Thursday, gave the directive at the 142nd National Economic Council meeting attended by state governors and some deputies at the State House, Abuja, announcing a National Construction and Household Support Programme which will see 100,000 families in each state getting ₦50,000 federal government grant for three months, ₦155,000,000,000 to be disbursed for assorted foods, ₦540,000,000,000 for household grants even as 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory will get ₦10,000,000,000 allocations each for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses.

The ₦50,000 federal government grant planned for 3,700,000 households across the 36 states and the FCT, the ₦10,000,000,000 allocation each for CNG buses in the 36 states and the FCT, as well as the ₦155,000,000,000 spending on assorted foods, are estimated to cost over ₦1,000,000,000,000.

While emphasising the urgency of boosting food production in the country, Tinubu urged state governors to work together to meet the needs of Nigerians, stating his willingness to provide the needed support to ensure that Nigerians are relieved of hardship.

“We must deliver on our targets at all levels. Please report back following your consultations and submit it to my office within seven days.

“How much support do you need from me and in what form? I am prepared to provide it. But we must achieve the result.

“There is nothing we are doing that is more important than producing high-quality food for our people to consume, buy, and sell. We create jobs in the production of it. And that is before we generate wealth by exporting the excess. It is not beyond us to achieve this for Nigerians,” President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said.

In recent times, multiple economic challenges have bedeviled the country with high inflation driven by the removal of fuel subsidies and exchange rate depreciation reached 27% year-on-year in October 2023.

This price surge, coupled with high food insecurity has increased the cost-of-living crisis, leaving Nigerians struggling to afford necessities, and languishing in abje t poverty, and increasing the rate of crimes.

In spite of certain policy reforms like fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate unification adopted by the Tinubu government, the challenges of poverty, stalled per-capita growth, and a weak business environment persist.

Also in July 2023, Tinubu announced the sharing of eight thousand Naira to 12 million vulnerable families for six months.

Again in October 2023, Tinubu announced another conditional cash transfer to 15 million households. The announcement coincided with the celebration of World Poverty Eradication Day.

There had been more and more cash  intervention programmes since the May 29, 2023 ‘Subsidy is Gone’ infamous declaration, and none is yet to lift Nigerians out poverty as economic realities continue to bite harder, and the Nigerian public coming out worst on a daily basis.

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Peter Obi Right to Condemn Planned Purchase of New Aircraft, Says Dele Momodu

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By Eric Elezuo

Veteran journalist and Chairman, Ovation Media Group, Aare Dele Momodu, has exonerated Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, on his description of the planned purchase of Presidential jets for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kasheem Shettima as insensitive and unacceptable.

The former Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was speaking via his social media handles, said “there’s nothing wrong with what Peter Obi said and suggested”, and called on the Tinubu-led administration to demonstrate the sacrifice he preaches by using his own jets and downsize his retinue of hangers-on during traveling.

He maintained that acquiring new aircraft at these hard times is an overindulgence, and urged Tinubu to stay away from the outlandishly flamboyant lifestyle of politicians.

He wrote: “In these hard times, there’s no compulsory reason for a country to own Presidential jets. In fact, it is an overindulgence. ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU owned private jets ever before he was declared President. He can demonstrate the SACRIFICE he preaches by downsizing and returning to them and requesting his retinue to go commercial when absolutely necessary. AIR PEACE has a fleet of Boeing 777 that can be hired for long haul flights and this will keep them in business. Trouble is our politicians are outlandishly flamboyant… There’s nothing wrong with what PETER OBI said and suggested…”

Recall that a House Committee on National Security and Intelligence had recommended new aircraft for the president and his vice. The recommendation was approved by its sister Senate Committee. The decision has since raised just among Nigerians as regards the gain at a time Nigeria is battling with serious economic downturn and outright hunger in the land.

However, a spokesperson of President Tinubu, who is the special adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, defended the planned purchase asking Nigerians if they want Tinubu to die like the former president of Iran and former Vice President of Malawi, both of whom died recently in a plane crash.

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ICYMI – June 12: The Heroes, the Villains

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By Eric Elezuo

June 12 has become an official national day, after many years of the agitation to recognize it. It was the day that Nigerians set aside tribal and religious sentiment to vote massively for MKO Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe in an election everyone described as the freest and fairest.

But the presumed winner never took office because nidway into the release of the results, the then President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida annulled the process, and there began a crisis.

While many agitated for the restoration of Abiola’s mandate, many sold out, and joined the Babangida, Shonekan and Abacha oppressors.

Below is an abridged list of those in support and against the June 12 mandate. You can add more names if there are:

MKO Abiola

The story of Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola is better compared to the beautiful bride, so beloved and cherished all because of how she distinguished herself. MKO, as he is popularly called, was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the disputed June 12 1993 Presidential election – an election acclaimed by not a few persons as the freest and fairest the country has ever had. The Ogun state born billionaire entrepreneur was leading handsomely when the Babangida junta suddenly annulled the election.

Abiola will not easily let go of his mandate, and with the people solidly behind him, he fought the Babangida and later Abacha junta to a standstill, and finally paid the supreme price when he died in detention on July 7, 1998, a day he was supposedly to be released, in the presence of notable world leaders. His death was a great blow to democratic and June 12 struggle.

One striking thing about Abiola’s democratic struggle was the fact that he didn’t actually need it. He was stupendously rich, and could have let go but he didn’t. He died fighting for the masses. He died a selfless democrat at 60.

Gani Fawehinmi

One of Nigeria’s finest lawyers, late Abdul-Ganiyu Fawehinmi was a human rights activist, who defended the masses without equivocation. He was fearless in his approach to matters so long as it provides succor to a citizen. Before he was recognised and awarded the coveted Senior Advocate of Nigeria, his followers had ‘honoured’ him with the ‘Senior Advocate of the Masses.’

Late Fawehinmi reported that he was arrested, detained and incarcerated a total of 32 times by successive military regimes, including those of Gen. Yakubu Gowon (six times), Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (three times), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (17 times) and Gen. Sani Abacha (six times).

Babangida said of him, “I appreciate you that you have a strong conviction and fight for it consistently. This is the context in which I see Gani.” He added that the arrest of Gani is ‘all in a day’s work. It’s just part of the job description’. Today, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has posthumously honoured him with the GCON award.

Frank Kokori

As the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) at the time, Kokori singlehandedly paralysed the country’s economy by calling out workers in the petroleum sector to go on strike. The mass action significantly paralysed the economy, and gave the government a wake up call.

He allegedly refused carrots dangled by the Abacha regime all because of the democratic struggle.

Wole Soyinka

An intellectual of repute, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, was not left out in post-June 12 struggle. It is on record that the literary icon used his international connection to draw the attention of the international community to events in Nigeria.

He was one of the brains and voices behind the much talked about Radio Kudirat, which was set up at a time when the military had their foot on media organisations and journalists. He was also a strong pillar of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) made up of pro-democracy fighters.

Kudirat Abiola

She was the second wife of MKO Abiola, who stood stoutly behind her husband. While Abiola was in detention, Kudirat took up the mantle, and was in the forefront of the fight for his release. Joining forces with other activists and civil rights giants, she became a painful thorn to the Abacha led regime.

Her fearless journey was cut short when she was brutally murdered at the Oregun area of Lagos on June 4, 1996. She was only 44.

A partaker in her assassination, Mr. Mohammed Abdul, aka Katako, in 2007, confessed that Kudirat’s murder was state sponsored.

He said: “On the day of the attack, we followed Kudirat Abiola’s white Mercedez Benz from Ikeja to Allen Avenue and then to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. When we got to the Toll Gate area, (Sgt. Barnabas) Rogers asked me to get close to the Benz and I did. Then, he (Rogers) leaned out of the window and started spraying the victim with bullets with the P90 rifle. After that, we immediately drove to Dodan Barracks.”

Anthony Enahoro

Also a leader of NADECO, Enahoro led the coalition in the Diaspora while on exile. He was the Chairman of NADECO; the Chairman of the Movement for National Reformation and was the leader of Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO).

The statesman, known for moving a motion for Nigeria’s self-rule, never relented in his call for the recognition of the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by Abiola.

On many occasions, he escaped assassination. He died on December 15, 2010, at 87.

Beko Ransome-Kuti

Beko formed what has been described as Nigeria’s first human rights organisation, the Campaign for Democracy, which was used to tackle Abacha’s dictatorship in the post-June 12 struggle. The CHDR is also Beko’s brainchild.

Under the regime, a military tribunal in 1995 sentenced Beko to life in prison for bringing the mock trial of Obasanjo to the attention of the world. His freedom came with the death of Abacha in 1998.

He died on February 10, 2006.

Ndubuisi Kanu

He is one of the few Igbo men who fought ceaseless for the restoration of the June 12-Abiola mandate.

After his retirement from the military, Kanu joined the pro-democracy movement and was one of the leaders of NADECO during the period; he later became chairman of the coalition in 2013.

Kanu also had his share of the bitter experiences like other pro-democracy activists like him. During the struggle, he reportedly escaped assassination by a stroke of luck

Alfred Rewane

Rewane was a successful businessman, a major financier of NADECO in the post-June 12 struggle. He used his means to support his compatriots in the opposition to the Abacha regime.

He was murdered on October 6, 1995, in his Ikeja residence, at the age of 78.

Abubakar Umar

Umar was another soldier, like Kanu who opposed to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.

He masterminded Abiola’s installation as president, and was caught, but was lucky to get away. He left the Nigerian Army in the heat of the struggle in 1993, and became a social critic and founded a political party called the Movement for Unity and Progress.

Ayo Opadokun

Chief Ayo Opadokun spent a sizable part of his life behind bars in the battle to actaulise June 12.

Alao Aka-Basorun

A former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Aka-Basorun was one of the pioneers of legal activism. Fondly referred to as ‘The Lion of the Bar,’ he was said to be one of the earliest proponents of national conference and restructuring of Nigeria’s federation.

He was one of the leading lawyers who defended Abiola during his “treason” trial, aftermath of his ‘Epetedo Declaration.’

He suffered a memory failure at the assassination of Kudirat Abiola and never recovered.

Abraham Adesanya

Adesanya, as  the leader of the Afenifere and deputy leader of NADECO remained at home with the likes of the late Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba and a host of others while many fled the country.

He mysteriously escaped the assassins’ bullets in 1997. It was during the trial of those suspected to have attacked him that revelations were made that he was marked for assassination for being a member of NADECO, a group already outlawed by the military regime.

Tunji Braithwaite

Braithwaite was one of the brains behind the ‘June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations,’ another pro-democracy advocacy group. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he rejected offers by successive military juntas and remained in the country even as a good number of activists fled the country.

Olusegun Osoba

One of the finest journalists Nigeria has ever produced, Chief Olusegun Osoba, was the Editor and Managing Director of government-owned Daily Times Nigeria Ltd under Babangida’s regime. He had bitter experiences like his compatriots.

Osoba revealed that Babangida sacked him three times while Abacha made attempts on his life three times due to his alignment with NADECO.

Osoba said in parts, “I will call him by his name. Three times Babangida sacked me. Three times he re-instated me. At last, he converted my sack to resignation. Three times Abacha wanted to kill me. I was in hiding for one year,” he said.

Other notable activists in the June 12 struggle are Frederick Faseun, Ibrahim Tahir, Balarabe Musa, Bola Tinubu, Ebitu Ukiwe, Walter Carrington, Bolaji Akinyemi, Bola Ige, Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba, Yinka and Joe-Okei-Odumakin, Dele Momodu, late Chima Ubani, Debo Adeniran, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Omoyele Sowore, Segun Maiyegun, Segun Okeowo, Femi Aborisade, Tokunboh Afikuyomi, Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Joe Igbokwe, Solanke Onasanya, Kayode Fayemi, Shehu Sani, among a host of many others.

 

The Villains

Ibrahim Babangida

Perhaps there is no greater villain of the June 12 struggle that Babangida. He will be remembered for his infamous annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. In fact, he started the imbroglio when on June 23, 1993, in a nationwide broadcast, he annulled the election.

Though he took full responsibility for the annulment of the election he claims it was a collective decision.

Sani Abacha

Abacha had the opportunity to right the wrongs of IBB, but failed to do so, instead he constituted himself as a terror, and planned to perpetuate himself in power.

During his regime, many lives of activists were cut short, and he caused others to flee the country. He did not stop at denying Abiola his mandate, he arrested him and held him inncustody until his death in 1998.

In his quest to kill June 12, and democracy in general, he lured and lobbied friends and associates of Abiola to serve in his government. Many of them such as the running mate to Abiola, Babagana Kingibe, Ebernezer Babatope, Lateef Jakande among others, withdrew their loyalty to the presumed president-elect.

Tony Anenih

Chief Tony Anenih was the National Chairman of the SDP, on which platform Abiola contested the 1993 election. Anenih, alias ‘Mr. Fix It,’ He practically failed to fix the people’s mandate, and forced forces with the oppressors.

Babagana Kingibe

Many see Babagana Kingibe as the greatest let down of the June 12 struggle. He was Abiola’s running mate in the 1993 contest, and common sense assumed he will stick with his principal to the end, but he became a turncoat and sold the mandate when he joined Abacha’s regime with the likes of Tony Anenih.

A lot of people have said that he does not in any way deserve the honours of GCON bestowed on him by Buhari. He didn’t fight at all before giving up. He never believed in June 12.

Uche Chukwumerije

The late Sen. Uche Chukwumerije became Babangida and Shonekan’s Information Minister while activists were fighting to reclaim the June 12 mandate. His propaganda theory was so potent that many wondered where he gets them from. He fought activists to a standstill.

In later interview, he supported the annulment based, according to him, on ‘security report…at the time’. He eventually benefitted from the democratic process as elected senator.he died on April 19, 2015,

Daniel Kanu

Kanu came from nowhere to become Abacha’s henchman and perpetrated serious anti-democratic activities, including organizing the infamous one million march for Abacha with his ‘Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha’ group. He basically dined and wined with the autocratic government.

Kanu was reported as saying, “The destiny of this nation and the transition to democracy under the present dispensation can only achieve its viable potential if handled by prudent, purposeful, and transparent leadership of General Abacha.”

When he contested and won PDP’s ticket for the House of Representatives in AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency in 2002, he was paid back in his own coin as his was ‘annulled’ over “unverifiable certificates” and “unclear antecedents.”

Arthur Nzeribe

He was Babangida’s own henchman, and was in the forefront of truncating the June 12 election with his infamous Association for Better Nigeria.

The ABN had made taken a major step to ensure the junta remained in power by approaching a court to prevent the conduct of the June 1993 presidential election. Its argument: leader of the NRC and the SDP were corrupt politicians.

The Campaign for Democracy challenged them and won.

Nzeribe’s association, again, went to court after the poll to prevent the release of the election results. Babangida listened and the political crisis ensued.

Nzeribe later boasted of his role in the cancellation of the June 12 election.

Abimbola Davies

He was one of the directors of the Nzeribe-led pro-Abacha ABN, among several others. He has been criticised for his links with the anti-democratic forces. Davies made a u-turn shortly after, and exposed the ABN motives.

Ernest Shonekan

A kinsman of Abiola, Shonekan happily accepted the interim leadership role. He could have used the opportunity to cause, but he never did. He revolved round the presidency until Abacha sacked him three months later.

Abdul-Azeez Arisekola-Alao

The late Ibadan-based billionaire businessman pitched his tent with Babangida in as much as he was Abiola’s friend and Yoruba Islamic leader. He spoke vehemently against the June 12 mandate.

He said, “Wallahi tallahi billahillazi la’ila ha illahuwa – and we are in the month of Ramadan; that is what happened at that time. It was after the election that members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council threatened to kill both MKO Abiola and IBB, if he insisted on releasing the result of the election. They threatened to kill both IBB and Abiola.”

Lamidi Adedibu

The late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, was said to have ‘arranged’ the infamous conditional bail to be granted to Abiola while in incarceration, a move that would have denied Abiola his mandate if he accepted the offer.

IBB was later quoted as saying that Adedibu supported the June 12 annulment.

Jerry Gana

Prof. Jerry Gana was one of the civilians co-opted into Abacha’s transition and being the Minister of Information, he was one of earliest people to sing the dirge of June 12.

Gana had in May 1994, almost the first year anniversary of June 12, reportedly said, “The military administration (Abacha’s regime) did not actualise the June 12 election, in spite of its opposition to the annulment, for fear that certain sections of the country could rise against it. If they actualised June 12 when they came in, another section would rise.

“The annulment is a painful one but we cannot because of it allow the people of Nigeria to be destroyed. Somebody has made a mistake like somebody made in 1966, like somebody made in 1984, like somebody made a mistake by stopping Jerry Gana from becoming a president by annulling my own primaries.”

Al-Mustapha, Sofolahan, Others

Abacha’s former Chief Security Officer, Maj. Hamza Al-Mustapha; Kudirat’s former Personal Assistant, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan; a son of late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, Mohammed Abacha; and Rabo Lawal were in December 1999 charged with conspiracy and murder over their alleged involvement in the assassination of Kudirat Abiola.

After 13 years of instituting the case, which was presided over by five successive judges and during which the accused persons were in prison custody, Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan were sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court on January 30, 2012.

Lawal Pedro, who led the prosecution, had accused Al-Mustapha of ordering Barnabas Rogers, (alias Sgt. Rogers), a member of Abacha’s Strike Force, to kill Kudirat. However, the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday, July 12, 2013, discharged and acquitted al-Mustapha and Shofolahan, saying there was not enough evidence to incriminate him in the murder of Kudirat. The verdict overturned the death sentence passed on al-Mustapha by the Lagos High Court.

Similarly, the likes of Bashir Tofa, the candidate of the NRC, who has yet to openly admit that Abiola won the election; Chief Tom Ikimi, the chairman of NRC, who defected to Abacha’s camp; Humphrey Nwosu, who couldn’t muster the courage to release the remaining results and others.

The Five political parties that adopted Abacha as their sole candidate for the election are also great enemies of the June 12 struggle. Someone had described them as the ‘five leprous fingers of Abacha’.

Additional Info from The Punch

First published on June 10, 2018

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