June 12: Abiola ignored all our danger warnings, was too ambitious to be president – Agbakoba

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… Says Kingibe is a traitor, doesn’t deserve national honour

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and one of the prominent human rights activists who led the struggle in the actualisation of June 12, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has said the winner of the June 1993 Presidential elections, late MKO Abiola was so engrossed with his presidential ambition that he (Abiola) ignored all their danger warnings.

The outspoken lawyer also faulted the GCFR title bestowed on late MKO Abiola’s running mate by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

Recall that President Buhari had on Tuesday, conferred MKO Abiola with the nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR) – a honour exclusively conferred only on presidents and former presidents.

While MKO Abiola was given a posthumous award GCFR, his then running mate, Babagana Kingibe, will be awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Also, late human rights activist and senior lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, was awarded the GCON.

However speaking on the development in an interview with The Punch, Agbakoba said Kingibe was a traitor and does not merit the award.

In his words: “He is a traitor; he is a big time traitor. I warned Abiola. Abiola didn’t listen to us, that was the problem. If he had listened to us, he would have been the president. We said this guy, we were not sure about him o. But Abiola is also at fault because he was so driven to become president that he lost sight of some very fundamental points. Then, he made a mistake of not following the advice of the pro-democracy community, Rather, he was listening to the politicians who wanted to be ministers. That was all they wanted. So having failed to follow advice, he very quickly fell into many errors, the first being that he now kowtowed to Abacha. There was a very nasty picture of him stretching across the chair to Abacha when Abacha was talking to him. It was very-very degrading to the point where he was not able to see that the northern emirs would not support him. He kept saying oh, they are my friends, I know them very well. And in my presence, he phoned Babangida, they put him on hold. He was shocked. He didn’t get to speak to Babangida. It was Kudirat who had a great sense of decency; Abiola was a bit a too ambitious in wanting to become president.

He went to Aso Rock to meet with Babangida in the course of which Babangida’s wife and Kudirat started fighting. It led to a fight. Babangida and other people had to rush out to separate them. My point is that Abiola really failed to see some of the pitfalls. I had meetings with Kingibe to say ‘don’t you think that being appointed foreign minister under Abacha’s government when the mandate was still alive and being pushed for, betrayed the mandate?’ He tried to justify it by saying it was Abiola who caused it. He said Abiola was not communicating with him, strategy, what to do, blah blah blah. So (he) said okay, ‘if Abiola himself has virtually rubbished the mandate, then why would he be fighting for it?’ Those are the circumstances under which he took the appointment. I said ‘I don’t think anything justifies it, I think you should have stood by the mandate notwithstanding what Abiola did. But you see, the irony today is that he is benefitting from something he did not fight for even for one day. That is the irony of life. He didn’t fight for it for one day, but well, he is entitled since he was Abiola’s running mate.

Agbakoba further insisted that if he had his way, Kingibe wouldn’t receive any national honours because he (Kingibe) never believed in the June 12 mandate

“Yes, I would say he should not have been given because he didn’t believe in June 12 and why would I give somebody who didn’t believe in June 12 an honour? For me, it is an irony. He is hypocritical,” he said.