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FLASHBACK: When Yakassai, Brigadier Abba Kyari tackled Ekwueme over Abacha’s self-succession

FLASHBACK: When Yakassai, Brigadier Abba Kyari tackled Ekwueme over Abacha’s self-succession
May 12
09:46 2020

With less than one month to the 22nd anniversary of the death of Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s military from 1993 to 1998, Olusegun Adeniyi, celebrated journalist and author, has made his book, ‘The Last 100 Days of Abacha’, available for free download here.

The book, first published in 2005, chronicles the events leading to the sudden death of the general who was on the verge of transmuting from a military head of state to a civilian president.

After all the five political parties had adopted him as their sole presidential candidate, Alex Ekwueme, former vice-president — who died at 85 in 2017 — and 33 other eminent politicians, including Adamu Ciroma and Bola Ige, asked Abacha to reject the nomination.

In an eleven-page memorandum, the group of 34 urged Abacha to discountenance the nomination by the political parties in order not to “create the impression that Nigeria is degenerating to a state of outlaw and anarchy, thus bringing the entire transition process and the Head of State himself to ridicule and disgrace”.

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The group urged Abacha to “promptly and unequivocally decline the purported nomination, and in doing so, to have an eye on the verdict of history and his place in it”.

In a counter-reaction, the Northern Patriotic Front (NPF), made up of Abba Kyari, a retired brigadier and former governor of north-central Nigeria, Tanko Yakassai, presidential liaison officer to the national assembly in the second republic, and Ibrahim Tahir, a former minister who had a PhD in social anthropology from King’s College, Cambridge, singled out Ekwueme for attack.

Ekwueme was accused of trying to break up the country through his advocacy for “confederacy” or loose federation.

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The NPF wrote: “It is regrettable that the group has arrogated to itself the sole wisdom for the generality of Nigerians, including the true political parties on what should or not be done in the on-going transition to civil rule programme. We find it ironical and reprehensible that this group of Nigerians would trade the peace and progress of this nation with some unsubstantiated technicalities. We are aware that a leading figure in that group was working with forces which in recent years advocated confederacy in Nigeria. He went as far as to sponsor a memorandum during the last constitutional conference calling for a loose federation which had the potentials of breaking the country.”

They said a former US president was allowed a third term in office contrary to US constitution.

“Are they working to create a political crisis to bring back their agenda of breaking up the country despite the fact that Nigerians have overwhelmingly rejected the idea?” they asked.

While Yakassai is still alive and clocked 94 last December, Kyari died in 2018 at 80 and Tahir in 2009 at 71.

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‘The Last 100 Days of Abacha’, which is written in a diary format, climaxes in the death of Abacha on June 8 — the same day his associates had put together a seminar, with Ebenezer Babatope, former UPN stalwart, slated to be the lead speaker.

All the national newspapers published the advert by Movement for National Stability (MNAS) announcing a national seminar with the topic ‘Should General Sani Abacha, GCON, contest the Presidency?’

Lead speaker: Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Senator-elect with a panel of discussants.

Chairman: Lt General Jerry Useni.

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Mother of the Day: Mrs. Maryam Abacha.

Royal Father of the Day: Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido

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Special Guests of Honour: Mr. Dan Etete, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu, Mr. Laz Unaogu and Chief Bode Olajumoke.

Chief Host: Sir Emeka Offor.

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“By mid-day, that same 8th June, it was glaring to all Nigerians that God had rendered the question irrelevant with the death earlier that morning of General Sani Abacha,” Adeniyi wrote.

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