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Facts as former Nigerian leader, Ernest Shonekan, dies

Facts as former Nigerian leader, Ernest Shonekan, dies

Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, who headed the Interim National Government that succeeded the junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, has died.

He died in Lagos today at the Everest Hospital in lekki aged 85 years.

He was the interim head of the Nigerian government between August 26 and November 17, 1993 when he was ousted in a coup led by late General Sani Abacha.

Shonekan was a Nigerian lawyer and statesman who served as the interim Head of State of Nigeria from 26 August 1993 to 17 November 1993. He was titled Abese of Egbaland in 1981.

Prior to his political career, Shonekan was the chairman and chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria (successor of The Niger Company), a vast Nigerian conglomerate, which at the time was the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Shonekan was educated at CMS Grammar School and Igbobi College. He received a law degree from the University of London, and was called to the bar. He later attended Harvard Business School.

Shonekan joined the United Africa Company of Nigeria in 1964, at the time a subsidiary of the United Africa Company which played a prominent role in British colonisation. He rose through the ranks in the company and was promoted assistant legal adviser.

He later became a deputy adviser and joined the board of directors at the age of 40. He was made chairman and managing director in 1980, and went on to cultivate a wide array of international business and political connections.

On 2 January 1993, Shonekan assumed office simultaneously as head of transitional council and head of government under Ibrahim Babangida. At the time, the transitional council designed to be the final phase leading to a scheduled hand over to an elected democratic leader of the Third Nigerian Republic.

In August 1993, Babangida resigned from office, following the annulment of the 12 June elections. He signed a decree establishing the Interim National Government led by Shonekan who was subsequently sworn-in as head of state.

Shonekan released political prisoners detained by Babangida. Shonekan’s administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government. Babangida made the interim government weak by placing it under the control of the military.

He lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the election annulment, most of the Western powers had imposed economic sanctions on Nigeria. Inflation was uncontrollable and most non-oil foreign investment disappeared. The government also initiated an audit of the accounts of NNPC, the oil giant, an organisation that had many operational inefficiencies. Shonekan served as an Executive of Royal Dutch Shell while acting as the interim president of Nigeria.

He tried to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from ECOMOG’s peacekeeping mission in Liberia. General Sani Abacha, was the minister of defence and chief of defence staff who had full control over the military.

In November 1993, three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in palace coup by Abacha.

In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group an advocacy group and think-tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy.

Since then Shonekan went on to feature prominently as an elder statesman.

 

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