Friday , January 28 2022

Former Nigerian Head of Interim Govt. Ernest Shonekan dies at 85

Chief Ernest Shonekan, the former head of the Interim National Government that succeeded the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, is dead.

Shonekan, a boardroom guru before his selection to head the Interim National Government, died in Lagos at the age of 85.

He was the Chairman of the interim National Government between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in a palace coup led by late General Sani Abacha who was Secretary of Defence.

Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, GCFR born on 9th of May, 1936 was a lawyer and statesman who served as the interim Head of State of Nigeria from 26th August, 1993 to 17th, November 1993.

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

Chief 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 colonization. He rose through the ranks in the company and was promoted to an 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.

In the wake of the political crisis of the Third Republic, Chief Shonekan on 2nd January 1993 assumed office simultaneously as head of the transitional council and head of government under former Military President General Ibrahim Babangida.

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

Shonekan was unable to control the political crisis which ensued following the election annulment. During his few months in power, he tried to schedule another presidential election and a return to democratic rule, while his government was hampered by a national workers’ strike. Opposition leader and acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, viewed Shonekan’s interim government as illegitimate.

Shonekan released political prisoners detained by General Babangida. Shonekan’s administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government.

In November 1993, three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in a palace coup by late former Head of State, General Sani 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.

He died on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 at the age of 85.

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